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.
Up north in Vancouver, the well known computer security conference CanSecWest got off to an impressive start with its famous Pwn2Own competition. The goal each year is to take down various different platforms to highlight their security holes. And this year showed that no matter what you run, you probably are not safe.
For example, German hacker “Nils” managed to take down a Windows 7 PC which was running Firefox. Using a previously unknown hole, he took total control over the PC. Before this, Charlie Miller managed to take down a Mac OS X machine running on Safari, and Dutchman Peter Vreugdenhil took down another Windows 7 PC using Internet Explorer 8.
Most disturbing, however, was probably the attack against iPhone users. Two Europeans by the names of Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf Phillipp Weinmann managed to lead an iPhone to a webpage where in 20 seconds the entire SMS database, including previously deleted messages, was stolen. All of the bugs were reported to the software’s creators by Pwn2Own and won’t be released until they are fixed.
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.
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.
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.
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Of course, Safari works better on the netbook than it does on an iPhone 3GS, completing the benchmark in only 3,606ms.
In general, default browsers that come with netbooks tend to be relatively slower than the competitors. Internet Explorer 8 is a better bet than IE7, but if you’re looking for even faster performance, try out Google Chrome. You can download it here.