The Tech News Blog

August 18, 2013

Mozilla to Launch Metro-Friendly Version of Firebox on Dec. 10

Firefox logo

If you've been waiting for a final Windows 8 Metro version of your favorite Web browser – assuming that's Mozilla's Firefox browser – then you have a bit longer to go, but there's hope in sight.

According to new notes from Mozilla's most recent Firefox planning meeting, the company plans to launch a version of the browser for Windows 8's "Metro" UI (technically, Windows 8's "new Windows User Interface," since Microsoft officially retired the "Metro" terminology for its tile-based design some time ago). The "preview release," as Mozilla dubs it, will officially arrive as part of the company's Firefox 26 release on December 10.

If you're looking to get your hands on a Metro-ized version of Firefox even earlier, however, you can always check out the new browser iteration by grabbing the Aurora build of Firefox on September 16. It's at that point that Mozilla will merge Firefox Metro into the "Aurora 26" variant of Firefox. While that means quicker access to features, it's also one of Mozilla's more unstable environments for browser releases – which is to say, don't be surprised or upset if your pre-beta browser starts getting funky.

Mozilla intends to push all Aurora features into the Beta channel on October 28 – a bit more of a stable environment for potential testers to play around with, given that Mozilla will be spending its time between September and October fixing and polishing features.

March 1, 2013

Report: EU to Fine Microsoft Over Browser Ballot Glitch

Browser Roundup European regulators could slap Microsoft with a fine over its "browser ballot" mishap by month's end, according to a new report.

Citing three people familiar with the matter, Reuters said the fine could be handed down before Easter, which falls on March 31 this year. Of course "procedural issues" could push that back, those sources warned.

The controversy dates back to 2009, when the European Commission announced that Microsoft violated European competition law by bundling its Internet Explorer browser with Windows. As a result, Microsoft said it would ship a version of Windows 7 with a "browser ballot" that would allow users to select which browser they wanted during the OS installation process. The EU approved that plan in Dec. 2009 and it started rolling out two months later.

Last year, however, the commission notified Microsoft that it had received reports of people not seeing the browser screen choice (BCS). Microsoft said it investigated and discovered that users of Windows 7 service pack 1 were not seeing the browser ballot due to a technical error. A fix started rolling out to PCs running Windows 7 SP1 in early July.

But the EU opened an investigation, and by October, regulators sent Microsoft a formal statement of objections.

"A statement of objections is a formal step in Commission investigations," the EU said at the time. "The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them and the parties can reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present comments."

January 22, 2013

Mozilla Unveils Firefox OS Developer Phones

Firefox OS Dev Phones

Mozilla today unveiled two new developer preview phones that feature the browser maker's Firefox OS.

The phones - dubbed Keon and Peak - are being developed via Spanish phone maker GeeksPhonein partnership with Telefonica.

"This week we are announcing our new Firefox OS developer preview phones because we believe that developers will help bring the power of the web to mobile," Mozilla said in a blog post.

The Keon (above) is described as "light and versatile but also powerful." It features a 3.5-inch touch screen, 3-megapixel camera, and 4GB of storage, as well as MicroSD, MicroUSB, Wi-Fi, GPS, and more. It runs a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 and a 1580mAh battery.

October 17, 2012

Internet Explorer 10 Coming to Windows 7 Next Month

Internet Explorer (IE) logo

Microsoft announced today that Internet Explorer 10 will be available to those running Windows 7 machines in November.

A preview version of the revamped browser will be available in mid-November and a final version will roll out shortly thereafter after incorporating user feedback, Rob Mauceri, group program manager for IE, wrote in a blog post.

IE10 will be pre-loaded on machines running Windows 8, which debuts on Oct. 26.

"We built an entirely new browser with Windows 8, with more performance and developer capabilities," Mauceri wrote. "IE10 brings improved real-world site performance and additional standards support to Windows 7 that Web developers have been asking for."

As PCMag's Michael Muchmore noted recently, IE10 "leads a double life" in Windows 8, given that you can run it in the traditional desktop view, as well as the interface formerly known as Metro. It also gets a speed boost and improved support for emerging Web technologies over its predecessor.

June 5, 2012

Firefox 13 Finally Adds New Tab Page

Mozilla Firefox logo

When you open a new tab in Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, or Opera, you'll see helpful links to recent, favorite, and most visited webpages. For several years now, Firefox has been the only browser that shows nothing but a blank white page when you open a new tab—until today.

Announced today on the Mozilla blog, Firefox 13 is a lucky one for those who've been yearning for some new tab assistance. And it's not just the new tab page that's been redesigned; Firefox users also get a new default homepage with the new release.

Firefox's updated new tab page, as in a lot of other things, mimics Google Chrome most closely. As in Chrome and Opera, Firefox's new tab page shows thumbnails of your most recently and frequently visited sites. And as in the other browsers, you can customize what's on these thumbnails, and they shrink and enlarge as you resize the browser window. You can also remove sites and pin and unpin them to the new tab page. But you can't specify which sites to include: They're chosen by frequency of your visits.

But where Google's browser only offers your most visited sites, Web apps, and recently closed tabs, the large icons on Firefox's new homepage give access to bookmarks, history, settings, add-ons, downloads, and sync preferences with shortcuts.

May 10, 2012

Mozilla, Google Irked by IE-Only Windows RT

Mozilla and Google have hit back at Microsoft over what they consider to be restrictive browser settings within the Windows on ARM version of the upcoming Windows 8 OS.

In a Wednesday blog post, Harvey Anderson, Mozilla's general counsel, argued that "Windows on ARM - as currently designed - restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation."

Microsoft will release a version of its OS - dubbed Windows RT - that is optimized for ARM processors. Like the other versions of Windows 8, it will include two environments: the classic Windows interface and the more Windows Phone-esque Metro style option.

According to Mozilla's Anderson, however, "Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged 'Windows Classic' environment."

"In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed," Anderson wrote. "Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can't do the same."

April 2, 2012

Internet Explorer Market Share Jumps as Rivals Drop

Browser Roundup

Microsoft's Internet Explorer saw a slight uptick in March, shaving browser market share from rivals like Firefox and Chrome.

The software giant, meanwhile, said that nearly 50 percent of Windows 7 users are now using its most-recent browser, IE9. About 14.6 percent are on Chrome 17/18, while 11.6 percent are on Firefox 11.

Overall, Microsoft saw IE usage increase from 52.84 percent global market share in February to 53.83 percent in March, according to data from Net Applications.

"With a gain of .99 percent last month and a net gain of 1.2 percent global usage share over the last five months, Internet Explorer has stabilized and even reversed its usage share declines of the last few years," Net Applications said.

February 23, 2012

Google, Mozilla Back White House ‘Do Not Track’ Plan

Google and Mozilla on Thursday voiced support for the White House's "privacy bill of rights" plan, which includes a call for browser makers to adopt an easy-to-use "do not track" option.

Google pledged to "adopt a broadly consistent approach" to "do not track" technology for its Chrome browser, while Mozilla said it was "firmly committed" to building a tool within Firefox that provides real choice and user control.

"Do not track" efforts are being spearheaded by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and Commerce Department. The group will work with tech companies and privacy advocates alike to find a solution that will protect peoples' privacy when they surf online.

At issue are ad networks and other companies that track Web users' online activity. Some of this activity is useful - serving up targeted ads based on habits, for example, or keeping you logged in on sites to which you surf frequently. But sometimes users are unaware that this tracking is going on, and there have been concerns about how companies use the data they collect about Internet users.

March 10, 2011

Mozilla Unveils Firefox 4 Release Candidate

By Chloe Albanesius

Mozilla on Wednesday released the Firefox 4 release candidate, the final update before the company formally unveils its next-generation browser.

Those who have been testing Firefox 4 will be automatically upgraded to the RC. Mozilla said it has fixed more than 8,000 bugs since the first beta release of Firefox 4, but encouraged RC users to test this latest release as well and provide feedback.

Mozilla executives expect the final Firefox 4 to be released later this month.

Firefox 4 is a major upgrade for Mozilla. It will feature a revamped plug-in architecture called JetPack, a redesigned minimalist interface, faster JavaScript performance, and greater support for HTML5, including Google's WebM HTML5 video format.