Last week I reported on Opera dumping Presto as it's rendering engine and adoption the more developer friendly, open source Webkit. The news kept flowing when the company managed to pick up Skyfire for a reported $155 million shortly after the Webkit announcement.
It looks like Opera will blanket headlines today as well, as the reports coming in from the Norwegian publication digi.no. They have announced that the company is letting some of its long time devs go from its core technology developer team. The publication said that as many as 90 of the 100 man team were terminated.
A large percentage of those who lost their jobs actually took a large severance package before Christmas. Some higher ranking developers were shuffled around to new projects within the company. Opera HR Director Tove Selnes is quoted: "This reorganization has been resolved in cooperation with the individual. We've come to terms with about 90 people, both in development and not development-related departments."
Opera, the little web browser that could, has decided to ditch the Presto rendering engine in favor of the more developer friendly and open source Webkit. This announcement comes hot on the heels of reports that put its user base around the 300 million monthly user mark.
Switching to Webkit will be greatly beneficial to the open source project, web developers, and the Chromium project. Hakon Wium Lie, CTO of Opera Software said, it "makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further."
The switch to Webkit will not be an instant one though as Opera plans on rolling the change out to iOS, Android and PCs over the next year. CEO Lars Boilesen said that he hopes that the change will help the browser "claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market".
The latest Windows build of Google's Chrome browser seems to be alluding that big things are on the horizon. Google appears to be readying a new "Notification Center" for its popular browser.
When reading over the latest release's code, Francois Beaufor spotted what appears to be templated notifications which can be enabled by toggling a flag in Chrome's settings. This will allow users to create personalized notifications from within a Chrome extension.
Speculation is that the new Notification Center may be the hub for Google Now support in Chrome OS as a recent code revision in Chromium hints at Google Now support. Chrome OS has always supported notifications, but bringing Google Now to the OS could help it become the next big player in the OS market.
Microsoft is looking to bring back users by toying with their emotions in this latest appeal:
The video clearly plays upon the current generation's nostalgia for the '90s. I've seen plenty of posts from my friends on Facebook saying "Like this if you're a '90s kid" and the like, so I have a feeling this appeal may actually work well for Microsoft. What are your thoughts on the ad? Will it bring you back to Internet Explorer?
Microsoft announced the ad on their blog:
Last year was a pretty great one for Internet Explorer. From hitting a year high on worldwide share to making some new friends like Officer Cupcake and Eugene Filon, we poked some fun at our past while helping the skeptics learn about the latest version of IE. Performance tests continued to show Internet Explorer 10 as the fastest browser on Windows 8 and security reports showed it was also the best browser to protect users from malware.
Which is why we thought it was time to invite those of you who haven't thought about Internet Explorer in a while to take a trip down memory lane. Internet Explorer is a child of the '90s, but we have done some serious growing up. Maybe IE was your first browser, but you haven't used it in a while. We aren't sure if Pogs or trolls will make a comeback as well, but we do know a lot has changed with Internet Explorer.
Dolphin Browser, one of the most popular mobile browsers just made a huge leap into the future by building in Evernote's Web Clipper. This makes it the first such browser to let us save, annotate, and tag webpages on the spot and see the changes pop up across all of our Evernote Synced devices.
Also included in the update is a single-step sharing process that simplifies sharing to social media sites and email. Users can even share content between browsers if they are on the same local network.
Developers also upgraded Dolphin Connect, to better sync bookmarks, passwords, and history between devices such as PC using extensions and add-on's to popular browsers.
Google unveiled Chrome 25 beta today, with some notable improvements, such as voice search. Other changes include the disabling of silent extension installs, the inclusion of Web Speech API, and a new tab page that includes a search box.
You can pick up the latest Chrome beta on Google's website.
Google has released version 24 of its popular operating browser, Chrome. The update hit the streets today with little word of anything from the search giant.
Google released a short and sweet blog post announcing the update. "With today's Chrome Stable release, you'll be booting up a faster browser. Feel free to kick back after the holidays and enjoy Chrome's new year freshness through automatic updates", said Dharani Govindan, Technical Program Manager for Chrome, in the blog post.
The update fixes several bugs, some Flash updates, and support for MathML. Bookmarks are now searchable via the Omnibox, and that is about it.
Reddit has certainly been a smash hit since its inception, but just how big was it in 2012? Well, according to the numbers released by the site, they received a massive 37 billion page views. An incredible number that is even more impressive when you add that those page view numbers were generated by 400 million unique users.
The site also saw 30 million posts, which gained 4 billion votes. Averaged out, it works out to be roughly 133 votes per post. Reddit's AMA with Obama is the record post, bringing in 5.5 million page views.
Reddit has released a post with the top posts of 2012 and the Best of 2012 Awards.
Last month, Mozilla announced that they would be killing the 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows due to many bugs and insecurities in the version, coupled with the fact very few users actually used or needed the 64-bit version. Mozilla has now reversed that decision due to backlash from users of the 64-bit version.
Mozilla is still looking to transition the large majority of 64-bit users over to the 32-bit version, though they will continue to provide nightly builds of the 64-bit version. Users will be forced onto the 32-bit through an automatic update, but will be able to download the 64-bit nightly and reinstall.
"After I announced my decision to disable 64-bit Windows nightlies, there was significant negative feedback. After reviewing that feedback, and consulting with Release Engineering, I believe that we can keep a set of users happy by making a modification to the original plan," Smedberg said. "I do hope that the projects and developers who are interested in win64 will work together to maintain this build configuration. I am interested in hearing from volunteers who want to become the 64-bit build maintainer. I will also set up a discussion list specifically for win64 issues, if that would be valuable."
I've already said some great things about Google Now in my reviews of the OS itself, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, as well as the review of the Nexus 4 - it truly is an amazing addition to Android, and is becoming one of the standout features of it, too.
Well, it looks like the Google Chrome team have just added a "skeleton for Google Now for Chrome" to the browser, which is showing the early stages of seeing the alert system/personal assistant app within the Chrome browser.
Google have gone as far as confirming that they're working on Google Now integration into Chrome, apart from totally admitting it. Moving Google Now into Chrome would be the next logical step and would be a great addition to the already powerful and popular browser. It would also give Google Now much more information to aggregate and sort out for you.
Microsoft's latest ad for Internet Explorer is actually quite good, company says new IE "sucks... less"
When first watching this new advertisement from Microsoft about Internet Explorer, I really didn't know what to expect. But as the video rolls on, you see just where they're going with it.
Microsoft are not stating that they are the undeniable champion of the browser space, because, well, they know that Chrome and Firefox from Google and Mozilla, respectively, are hugely popular web browsers.
But, that hasn't stopped the software giant from releasing a new advertisement over it - involving a basement-living Internet troll who attacks IE on sites, forums and Twitter. Eventually, he sees that IE has evolved into something he can actually accept - rather than vehemently attack.
And just like that, Mozilla has ended nightly builds of Firefox 64-bit for Windows. The reasoning behind doing so is logical and was laid out by Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg. Only 5 days after his post on the mozilla.dev.planning discussion board, nightly builds were turned off.
- Many plugins are not available in 64-bit versions.
- The plugins that are available don't work correctly in Firefox because we haven't implemented things like windowproc hooking, which means that hangs are more common.
- Crashes submitted by 64-bit users are currently not high priority because we are working on other things.
- This is frustrating for users because they feel (and are!) second-class.
- It is also frustrating for stability team triage because crash-stats does not easily distinguish between 32-bit and 64-bit builds in the topcrash lists and other reports. We basically ignore a set of nightly "topcrashes" because they are 64-bit only. (See bug 811051).
Browsing through the discussions, it was clear that a large portion were against disabling the 64-bit version, however, some did agree with him. He then posted "Thank you to everyone who participated in this thread. Given the existing information, I have decided to proceed with disabling windows 64-bit nightly and hourly builds. Please let us consider this discussion closed unless there is critical new information which needs to be presented."
On the heels of yesterday's Firefox for Android update, Mozilla has released Firefox 17 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The popular browser has seen heightened competition as of late from Google's Chrome browser and the other browsers available, such as Opera and Internet Explorer 10.
The latest version comes just a month after Firefox 16, which was released back in October. Mozilla has increased the frequency of updates, likely to match that of Chrome, and Firefox is now rolling out updates, bug fixes, and improvements every six weeks or so, a similar schedule to that of Chrome.
Version 17 of Firefox removes support for Mac OS X 10.5. This could be a bit of a problem for some Mac users as nearly 10 percent of Macs are still running the old operating system. They'll still be stuck with the old version of the browser, but this isn't too big of a deal because version 16 is a solid Firefox version.
Head on over to Firefox.com and pick up the latest version of the browser, which should be showing up online sometime today. If you're already a user of Firefox, you'll get the update automatically.
Firefox for Android allows it to run on older devices, makes it accessible to 250 million more devices
Today, Mozilla has released a new version of Firefox for Android. The updated version now includes support for devices running an ARMv6 processor, which Mozilla claims is found in roughly 250 million devices. For comparison, there are roughly 500 million existing Android devices, so it opens it up to a large new group of users.
Previous iterations of the Firefox browser required devices to be running Android 2.2 or later and an ARMv7 processor. Users who have clung to their older Android device can now make use of the popular third-party web browser. The new browser also comes with many improvements for the visually impaired.
The accessibility improvements are now available in the mobile browser and will help visually impaired users navigate the web. If you'd like to pick up Firefox for Android for your older device, it's now available on the Google Play Store.
Google: Flash is now 'fully sandboxed' in Chrome on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS; everyone cheers
Three cheers for Chrome and the Chrome team. They have fully sandboxed Flash in Chrome for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chrome OS, which should help make everyone's system safer and more stable. Flash has long been the cause of security flaws and browser crashes, so Google's sandboxing of Flash should stop at least the former of the two problems.
The latest Chrome release features a new version of flash, along with full Flash sandboxing. Google says that the new Flash sandboxing is as strong as Chrome's native sandbox, and "much more robust than anything else available." Between the two changes, Flash should remain safe for a few more weeks before someone finds a new compromise.
This will be especially good for Mac users as Flash has been a major problem for the platform as of late. They suffered the Flashback malware, and several other security breaches. Flash makes a great exploit tool because of its wide use and cross-platform support. It's doubtful anyone will stop trying to exploit it for a long time to come, so this step by Google is much appreciated.
Google is apparently quite proud of their six week release schedule for Chrome. They've taken to their blog to post about how every six weeks, Chrome gets faster. They liken the release schedule and speed increase to " a mechanic stopping by every six weeks to give your car a new engine."
As you can see in the chart above, Chrome, according to Google, has gotten 26.3 percent faster since version 15. The latest version, 24, is currently available in the Beta channel meaning it will be a little bit before you get it on your normal desktop. They measured performance using their Octane benchmark, so the numbers could be a bit biased.
They do bring up the interesting point of most users not realizing their browser is being upgraded. To the end user, they see the same window, day after day, even though it's updating the back-end to make the browser run quicker and feel snappier. Google strives for speed, so you can be assured that they will continue to tweak Chrome to get the best performance.
Opera's latest iteration of their browser is now available, which includes improved support for both Windows and OS X, as well as enhanced support for touch-enabled Windows 8-based devices. Apple users aren't left out in the dark, either.
Users running Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion get some new features, too, with alerts from Opera in the new Notifications Center and improved support for the Retina displays on the latest MacBooks and iMacs. The new Opera 12.10 also includes a button added to the address bar that uses Mountain Lion's integrated social sharing functionality. There are also some other great improvements:
- Support for the SPDY protocol to improve and secure connections. Gmail and Twitter have already started using SPDY to supplement HTTP.
- The WebSocket API is supported and turned on by default in Opera 12.10. Opera now also supports ICC color profiles and color management.
- Support for Flexbox and and @supports to give website developers more control of how their website appear in the end users' browsers.
Last year, Google released a plug-in for the wildly popular Google Chrome. Like all things Google, this plug-in started out as a beta. The plug-in was a utility that would allow users to remotely access other PCs through Chrome. Today, Google has upgraded this plug-in from beta status with additional features.
To move the plug-in out of beta, Google added some extra features, some of which are really sweet. For instance, you can now have a real time audio feed from Windows, which should allow you to stream your MP3 collection through the internet to wherever you may remote desktoping in from.
Google is really trying to sell the plug-in as part of the Chromebook experience. You can take your highly "portable and easy-to use Chromebook with you on the go" and still remote into your PC or Mac at home to listen to music, do work that isn't possible on a Chromebook, or to just check on things.
Google says that they are still working on even more features to make Chrome Remote Desktop even more powerful. You can grab the plug-in from the Chrome Web Store.
Mozilla have taken to their Security Blog to update users on a security vulnerability they've found in their latest version of Firefox, version 16. The company have stated that there is an update arriving on October 11 on Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux.
This update should fix the problems with the security hole, which Mozilla have stated:
Mozilla is aware of a security vulnerability in the current release version of Firefox (version 16). We are actively working on a fix and plan to ship updates tomorrow. Firefox version 15 is unaffected.
The impact of the hole itself:
The vulnerability could allow a malicious site to potentially determine which websites users have visited and have access to the URL or URL parameters. At this time we have no indication that this vulnerability is currently being exploited in the wild.
For the meantime, Mozilla have cleared Firefox 16 from its current installer page.
In a continuing effort to make Google Chrome more secure, Google enters the browser into hacking competitions. One of the hacking competitions stopped requiring participants to fully disclose how an exploit was performed, so Google decided to start hosting their own. Known as Pwnium competition, Google hands out awards from $20,000 to $60,000 depending on the exploit.
In this case, a hacker managed to win $60,000, the highest award amount, for exploiting a security hole in Chrome on Tuesday. "We're happy to confirm that we received a valid exploit from returning pwner Pinkie Pie," Google announced in a Chromium blog. "This pwn relies on a WebKit Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) compromise to exploit the renderer process and a second bug in the IPC layer to escape the Chrome sandbox. Since this exploit depends entirely on bugs within Chrome to achieve code execution, it qualifies for our highest award level as a 'full Chrome exploit,' a $60,000 prize and free Chromebook."
Of course, Google's team immediately started patching the exploit as soon as it was discovered and had a patch pushed out in just 10 hours. The hacker who performed this exploit also picked up $60,000 in the first competition that was held earlier this year. If Pinkie Pie can keep this up, he could support himself nicely with this income.
With Windows 8 knocking at our door, Mozilla have unleashed a preview of Firefox for Windows 8, as you can see from the photo below, it is not looking too bad at all.
This version is from the latest nightly build of Firefox for Windows 8, and is available for download right now if you'd like to try it out. This preview of Firefox for Windows 8 includes "a new Metro style Firefox Start page, support for Firefox Sync, Metro touch and swipe gestures, integration with Windows 8 'charms', and a simple but powerful Australis interface that is streamlined, modern, and beautiful."
Mozilla has touted this nightly version to be part of their "Elm" development branch, and will be auto-updated as their development of the browser goes on. We should see the usual improvements to the browser as time passes, but for now the preview is all we have.