May 4 2010

Internet Explorer Usage Drops

This news makes me extremely happy because I absolutely cannot stand Internet Explorer. I hope that people are realizing that there are so many great alternative browsers out there to use. According to statistics published by Net Applications, Internet Explorer use is down to about 60 percent, which is quite a change from the 80 percent it had two and a half years ago. Firefox has nearly 25 percent of the usage, Chrome has 6.7 percent, and Opera 2.3 percent.

Alternative browsers use different rendering engines from Internet Explorer’s Trident and offer a vastly improved performance. Trident does not meet the latest web standards and has very slow rendering speeds compared to Gecko, Presto, and WebKit, the rendering engines of Firefox, Opera, and Chrome/Safari, respectively.

I would highly recommend switching from Internet Explorer if you are still using it. Firefox is a great alternative (it has lots of pretty themes that you can use to customize it), as is Safari (it’s really, really fast). I have heard great things about Chrome, though I have not used it myself. And if you’re a Mac user, Camino is a great choice as well—it’s based on Gecko and integrates really well with the Mac OS. I have tried Opera in the past and I found it a bit difficult to adjust to, but it is also a good alternative to Internet Explorer.

Via AppleInsider.

Apr 16 2010

Opera iPhone App is Hugely Popular

The Opera iPhone app, released two days ago, has already proven to be a huge success. It was at the top of the download chart within twenty-four hours of being released and has been downloaded over one million times since its release. Apple took three weeks to approve it for sale in the app store.

Opera Mini is not the first iPhone app that is an alternative to the Safari browser. A browser app called iCab was released in May 2009. However, Opera Mini is one of the first well-known browsers to be developed for the iPhone.

Apps have to be written for particular phones to offer a good quality experience. Opera has not developed an app for the iPad, instead saying that the iPhone version of Opera Mini will work on the iPad.

Via BBC News, image via Opera.

Apr 12 2010

Apple Approves Opera for iPhone

Apple has approved Opera Mini for the iPhone, which is big news because it is the first alternative web browser for the iPhone. Opera Mini will help users where the AT&T network is most congested, like San Francisco and New York.

Ironically enough, for Opera Mini to be approved, it had to be deemed not a web browser because of Apple’s developer agreement. The agreement does not allow alternative JavaScript rendering engines on the iPhone. Though the iPhone has had alternative browsers previously, all of them were actually skins for the Safari browser.

Technically, Opera Mini does not render web pages. Opera’s servers render the pages and Opera Mini renders a compressed markup language called OBML. This actually makes Opera Mini more like a PDF reader than a web browser.

People who have used Opera Mini have said that it is extremely fast, rendering web pages in ten seconds, as opposed to the thirty that Safari took. Opera Mini also reduces data traffic, which should give speed improvements to crowded areas.

Via PC Magazine, image via Opera.

Mar 24 2010

Firefox Releases Update to Fix Security Issue

Mozilla released its latest Firefox update yesterday, about one month ahead of schedule. The update fixed stability issues and security flaws, including a bug that could allow a hacker to execute a malicious code on a user’s system.

Firefox is a popular alternative browser to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and, in light of the attacks on Internet Explorer in the past few months, has been recommended as a replacement browser in some EU countries, most notably Germany and France. However, the German government recently recommended that users stop using Firefox due to the recent security flaw.

The recent security flaw only affects Firefox 3.6 running on Windows XP or Windows Vista—Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows 7 users are unaffected. Mozilla probably released the update early in order to prevent users from abandoning Firefox, and it also probably wants the browser to be updated in the time leading up to the CanSecWest security conference.

Via PC World, image via Firefox.

Mar 20 2010

Opera Making Major Grounds in the EU Due To Browser Selection Screen

We all remember or at least know of the famous Microsoft anti-trust trials of the late 90s and early 2000s, and of course its result was the creation of the mandatory browser selection screen in the European Union.  At first, there were questions on whether or not it would be truly a useful addition in spreading knowledge about alternatives to Internet Explorer. Common opinion held that people who hadn’t gone through the effort of finding a different browser on their own would simply pick IE and not worry about it.

Opera, however, seems to be reporting results to the contrary.  According to them, a “dramatic uptake on downloads” has occurred, and they have the numbers to back it.  They have experienced a 328% download increase from Poland due to the choice screen, meaning that 77% of the downloads of that country are due to the choice screen.  Across the EU, 53% of their downloads come from the choice screen.  It’s a shame that the US doesn’t have a similar policy.

Via Gizmodo

Mar 4 2010

Microsoft Browser Choice is Limited

I reported last month that Microsoft would, starting on March 1, be offering browser choices to its European users as a result of an agreement between Microsoft and the EU.

Microsoft has started offering browser choices, as they promised. But according to a web designer, users are not getting as much of a choice as they think they are, due to the fact that a lot of the browsers offered are basically clones of Internet Explorer. Many of the lesser-known browsers offered use the same rendering engine, Trident, that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer uses.

Of the twelve browsers offered, five use Trident, three use Mozilla’s Gecko, two use WebKit, and one uses Opera’s Presto. One of the twelve browsers can use either Trident or Gecko. Most web designers do not like Trident because it does not conform to rendering standards. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera are the browsers that adhere to rendering standards best.

Via BBC News, image via Microsoft.

Feb 19 2010

Microsoft to Offer Browser Choice

Starting on March 1, Europeans using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will have a choice of which browser to use. They will be able to choose to use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, Opera, or continue to use Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s offering this choice is a result of an agreement between Microsoft and the EU. The EU and Microsoft have long had conflicts over anti-trust issues.

The browser choice will arrive via an update for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 users, according to a Microsoft blog post. It is estimated that over half of people who use the Internet use Internet Explorer as their browser. According to analysts, many people never think about which browser they use and now will be forced to make a choice.

The chair of the Mozilla Foundation expressed pleasure at hearing this news.

Via BBC News, image via Microsoft.

Feb 17 2010

Apple’s Safari Predicted to be Hacked First

According to the organizer of the Pwn2Own hacking challenge, Apple’s Safari will be the first browser to fall to hacking. However, a researcher who won at Pwn2Own the previous two years is not so sure. Aaron Portnoy, the organizer of the contest, said that Safari is on Snow Leopard, which “isn’t on the same level as Windows 7.” But researcher Charlie Miller says Safari is not significantly easier to hack than other browsers.

The Pwn2Own contest has made headlines for hacking Mac OS X, Safari, Microsoft Windows, and Internet Explorer. There are cash prizes and laptops for those who successfully hack the browsers and operating systems. Last year, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox all fell to attack. Google Chrome did not.

There won’t only be operating systems to hack—there is a mobile component to the competition as well. Competitors will have the opportunity to hack an iPhone 3G S, a Blackberry Bold 9700, a Nokia smartphone, and a Motorola that will most likely be running Android. Portnoy said he expects the iPhone to be the easiest to attack. Miller said he does not expect any of the phones to be successfully hacked because there is not common knowledge about attacking phones.

Pwn2Own will be from March 24 to March 26 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The vulnerabilities and bugs discovered are used to help computer security.

Via Computerworld, image via Apple.

Jan 31 2010

Google Will End IE6 Support

Google is really not happy with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6. After all, it was a vulnerability in IE6 that allowed Chinese hackers to mount an attack against Google and target Chinese human rights activists’ Gmail accounts. Beginning on March 1, Google has said that some services, such as Google Docs, will not work properly with IE6, and recommended that users upgrade to a later version of the browser.

After the attack against Google was made public, people were urged to switch to a more secure browser. The French and German governments, as well as security analysts, urged users to upgrade or switch browsers for their own safety.

Approximately 20 percent of users are still using IE6. Many developers have expressed a desire to see IE6 phased out soon. However, Microsoft has promised to support IE6 until 2014. It released an update designed to correct the vulnerability and recommended that all users install the update or upgrade their browser.

Microsoft said it has known about the vulnerability since September 2009 and planned to patch it in February. The negative publicity in the wake of the attacks against Google have helped rival browsers such as Firefox gain market share. In fact, in Europe Firefox has almost as large a share as Internet Explorer, and even surpasses IE in some countries.

Via BBC News, image via Microsoft.

Jan 19 2010

It’s Time to Ditch Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser remains the net’s most popular browser, despite its many flaws and the plethora of better alternative browsers available for download. The recent attack on Google in China, however, has truly shown that it is time to stop using IE and switch to a better browser.

Both the German and French governments have called on web users to find alternatives to Internet Explorer. A government agency that monitors cyber threats, Certa, has warned people not to use any version of the browser. The malicious code that was used in the attacks on Google is now published online, compromising the security of every Internet Explorer user.

Microsoft continues to assert that the latest edition of its browser, Internet Explorer 8, is the “most secure browser on the market.” It is true that so far, the malicious attacks have occurred on Internet Explorer 6. But security researchers say that this could easily change. Since the code is posted online, hackers could modify it to target other versions of IE. Microsoft has yet to release a patch for IE that would alleviate these concerns.

It’s true that no browser is perfect and other browsers have potential problems that hackers could exploit. But right now, IE is simply not a safe browser to use. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari are much safer alternatives.

Via BBC News, image via Microsoft.

Jan 3 2010

Google Chrome Surpasses Safari

Google’s browser Chrome, as of today, now holds 4.63% of the browser market, meaning that is has finally surpassed Apple’s Safari. This gain is attributed to the release of Mac and Linux versions of the browser. Safari has stayed relatively static, losing a miniscule 0.15%.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the biggest loser this past month. It lost one percentage point, bringing its share down to 62.7%. Some people are predicting that if this trend continues, Internet Explorer will have under half of the browser market in six months.

Google is still continuing to improve Chrome. It released an extension today (currently only for Windows) that allows one to go to similar pages from the browser itself. More and more people may become dissatisfied with Internet Explorer and switch to Chrome, Safari, or Firefox (or another browser), which are, in my opinion, better alternatives to Microsoft’s product.

Via Computerworld.

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