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.

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 22 2010

IE Takes Hits Across The EU Following Addition of Browser Choice Screen

The European Union won a very decisive victory in the anti-trust case against Microsoft and its integration of Internet Explorer into the Windows operating system.  The greatest spoil of war was of course the Browser Choice Screen.  This gives Windows users in the EU an initial choice of web browser, rather than dropping IE on them without formal consent. Opera has already announced that it has had impressive gains in downloads across Europe.  However, this trend isn’t exclusive to Opera.

Mozilla has also posted steady gains, and anticipates even more when the screen is used on new computers. 200 million computers have already used the system. And Microsoft is feeling the burn: France has seen a 2.5% drop of IE users, Britain had a 1% drop, and Italy had 1.3% drop.  Still, IE holds a massive 62%  market share and it will likely need some time before it is equalized out.

Via Engadget

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.

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 23 2010

Internet Explorer Under Attack, Again

As many have said, it is time to stop using Internet Explorer. It is simply too unsecure. Some new malware is now exploiting yet another vulnerability in Microsoft’s popular browser.

This new threat is not the same as the one used against Google in China. This malware replaces the code of “MessageBeep API” so that Internet Explorer cannot play a beep sound. Then the malware causes the IE window to be displayed again, which results in a malicious file being downloaded. The malware is on hundreds of websites, which contain a shell code that bypasses a warning dialog.

Part of the problem is the incredible number of people who persist in using Internet Explorer 6. IE6 is almost ten years old. It was designed in a time when people did not fully understand browser security, so it is extremely vulnerable. Yet, it remains the browser with the largest market share, despite the fact that Microsoft has released new versions of their browser that are more secure.

Via CIO Today, 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 14 2010

China Attackers Exploited Internet Explorer

Chinese attackers who mounted attacks on Google were able to do so by exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer, according to new info from McAfee. Microsoft was supposed to release an advisory about the Internet Explorer hole but has not done so yet.

The security flaw involves Internet Explorer’s handling of JavaScript. The malware involved opens a “back door” that allows the attacker to enter and control the entire compromised system. The attackers targeted only a few specific individuals. Internet Explorer is vulnerable to this attack on all recent Microsoft operating systems, including Windows 7.

Initially security researchers thought that a vulnerability in Adobe Reader was the problem. Adobe denied this, and it turns out they were right–their software appears to have no security issues associated with this recent attack.

Google released information about the attacks on Tuesday. They were not the only US company to be attacked: Adobe, Yahoo, Symantec, Juniper Networks, Northrop Grumman, and Dow Chemical were also targeted.

Via CNET, 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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