Brian Rakowski, the Google Chrome product manager, dishes out the details on the Official Google Blog. The Google Chrome betas for Mac and Linux, he says, were engineered to meet the demanding expectations of both platforms. Mac users, he says, will be impressed with the almost instantaneous launch time--so fast “there’s hardly even time for the icon in the dock to bounce!” The Mac version integrates with Mac features, such as the Keyhain, spell check, and SandBox for enhanced security.
For the Linux beta, Google remained faithful to the open source community, with more than 50 contributors contibuting to Chrome's foundation, Chromium. Google Chrome for Linux fits natively with the operating system where possible, including integration of native GTK themes, and updates managed by the standard system package manager.
Google, according to Rakowski, is all too aware that a browser without extensibility just isn’t a browser. But, at the same time, Google didn’t want to jeopardize Google Chrome’s speed and stability. Extensions, according to Rakowski, accomplishes these objectives. Extensions, says Rakowski, “are as easy to create as web pages, easy to install, and each extension runs in its own process to avoid crashing or significantly slowing down the browser.” Rakowski says there are more than 300 extensions now ready for use, but only for Windows and Linux boxes.
Opera Software, the Norwegian-based browser maker, today announced that some 12.5 million people downloaded Opera 10.10 within a week's time, shattering previous Opera records and marking an increase of 25 percent when compared to the download rates of Opera 10 launched two months ago.
"With such remarkable download numbers, I am confident that we truly appealed to the needs of the Web-using public. Opera 10.10 is visually more compelling, and technologically speaking, it goes where no browser has gone before," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "We believe that, over time, Opera Unite has the power to erase preconceptions of how we access and share information on the Web."
Including the latest downloads, Opera now resides on the desktops of 45 million active Web surfers. That doesn't include the millions of mobile Opera users surfing the Web from their handheld devices and game consoles.
Opera's most recent download numbers are pretty impressive when you consider that version 10.10 is an incremental update. But in addition to Internet Explorer and Firefox, it will also face stiff competition from Chrome, which inches ever closer to offering extensions support to the general public.
I'm sure many readers of Maximum PC--this one included--have jumped onboard the Google DNS ship, lured either by promises of increased speed versus one's own DNS server or a simple fascination at anything Google does. Fair, at least with the latter. Because it would be erroneous to just switch over to an alternate DNS server without any kind of assessment that what you're doing is actually the best-case scenario for your home or office setup.
That said, it's important to first give props to Google for delivering a DNS service that appears to be free of any kind of takeovers or unexpected redirects. Just try hand-pounding your keyboard after clicking on your browser's address board, then hit enter. If the resulting "fasdfljsajdf.com" isn't actually a Web site, you'll notice how... nothing happens, save for the standard "what are you doing?" error page (depending on your browser of choice). That's a bit different than OpenDNS, which routes you over to one of its own landing pages--oddly, a rebranded version of Yahoo! search--that's stacked with advertising related to whatever it is you mistyped. Weak.
Redirects aside, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into when you start fussing around with going a step beyond your ISP's default DNS servers. Like a tangible product review, you should really assess what you're gaining and losing through the use of either OpenDNS or Google DNS from both a performance and features standpoint.
After the jump, I'll share my own personal results with using both Google DNS and OpenDNS, and show you exactly how you can figure out the best-case scenario for your own browsing needs!
The method is simple: pop up a ‘ballot’ that lists browsers options and let the user choose. While simple browser makers didn’t see it as fair. (Except, perhaps, for Apple.) The list of browsers, complete with icons, was presented alphabetically. That meant “Apple Safari” always appeared at the top of the list. Since users can be lazy, the top browser on the list has a decided advantage, which didn’t set well with other browser makers: Google, Mozilla, Opera. The other browser makers also weren’t too happy with Microsoft using and IE-formatted web page to present the choice information.
Microsoft has decided it’s better to placate the whiners than to fight them. It has revamped the choice ballot so it is in a standard web page format, so no one has to see IE during the choice process, and will randomize the list of browsers for each installation.
The real victims, naturally, are the users. EU adopters of Windows 7 were forced to manually download a browser because the ballot selector screen wasn’t ready. Imagine the horror.
In an official blog post earlier this morning, the Opera team announced it has released its Opera Mobile 10 Beta 2 browser for both Symbian/S60 and Windows Mobile smartphones. According to the announcement, the use of a new cross-platform UI framework enabled the developers to port the same features and browsing experience to both platforms.
There are a bunch of new features in the latest browser release, including a more intuitive interface, faster browsing with page loads up to 50 percent snappier than with pervious versions, Speed Dial, which allows users to visit favorite websites with a single click, and tabbed browsing.
There are some known issues on both platforms to be aware of. Some of these include only partial IME (Input Method Editor) support (S60), persistent soft keyboard display even when the hard keyboard is out and in use (S60), no plug-in support (S60 and WinMo), certain HTC devices with TouchFLO will force opera back to portrait mode if visiting the home screen when Opera is in landscape (WinMo), and lack of support for non-touch devices (WinMo).
If you're a true geek, then you love experimenting with and comparing all the different Web browsers on the market today. You might have a default browser of choice for rendering most Web pages, but you still keep a number of other browsers available for their usefulness, their speed, or their compatibility in synchronizing to devices you already own (cough the iPhone cough). It's fun to surf the net in different ways. And, depending on the Web site, you might also need to have other options on hand in case a site fails to work in one rendering engine.
So how, then, do you toggle between these browsers? Sure, you could assign each to your right-click context menu and scroll through the "open with..." choices each time you need to switch to a new app. That's kind of ugly and tedious, don't you think? A fun little application called Browser Chooser improves this process by giving you a pretty little GUI for selecting your browser of choice whenever you want to pull up a page. It's a lightweight utility that's as easy to configure as it is to use, giving you the flexibility to pull up a number of different rendering engines at the touch of a button.
All extensions will have to pass through a fully automated review process, except for those extensions “that include an NPAPI component and all content scripts that affect "file://" URLs.” Extensions beyond the scope of the automated review process will be vetted manually. Developers can supplement their extensions with explanatory text, screenshots and/or YouTube videos.
“During the last few months, our team has been working hard to support extensions in Google Chrome's beta channel. Today, we are getting one step closer to this goal; developers can now upload their extensions to Google Chrome's extension gallery. We are making the upload flow available early to make sure that developers have the time to publish their extensions ahead of our full launch,” programmer Lei Zheng wrote on the Chromium blog.
Is your ultraportable overheating while surfing the web? As odd as it sounds, the culprit could be Firefox rather than a hardware issue. No, really, check out what one of Mozilla's support pages has to say on the matter.
"At times, Firefox may require significant CPU resources in order to download, process, and display web content," Mozilla states in a document titled "Firefox consumes a lot of CPU resources."
As CNet notes, this is a real problem that users are reporting, such as this Dell Mini9 owner. So what's the solution? Short of switching to a different browser, Mozilla recommends downloading and installing the latest version of the Flash plugin, which might help with Flash heavy sites like YouTube, and installing Flashblock, which allows end-users to selectively enable and disable Flash content.
Depending on when and where the high CPU usage kicks in, Mozilla also recommends updating the Adobe Reader plugin, configuring Firefox to open PDF documents outside of Firefox, and installing NoScript.
Have you noticed any unusual CPU activitiy or overheating woes while running Firefox? Hit the jump and let us know.
Internet Explorer users who have yet to upgrade to IE8 should take note. According to security firm Symantec, there's a pretty nasty Zero Day exploit that affects both IE6 and IE7.
"The exploit currently exhibits signs of poor reliability, but we expect that a fully-functional reliable exploit will be available in the near future," Symantec explained in a blog post. "When this happens, attackers will have the abilty to insert the exploit in websites infecting potential visitors."
Attendees at Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles got a sneak preview of IE9 yesterday. From what was presented it’s not really clear what type of personality IE9 will take on.
Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, stated Microsoft want’s IE9 to be “a good balance between things we know and have to do and moving the whole notion of browsing forward.” The task of delivering the “most world class browsing experience we can develop,” he added, has to be done “in the most responsible way.” Which suggests IE9 will be brought into line with existing browser potential, but won’t be pushing any cutting-edge technology.
Changes and improvements are plenty. First off, IE9 will use the Trident rendering engine, running on DirectX instead of GDI. DirectX will shift graphic processing from software to hardware, which will boost the display of graphics and text, and provide smoother rendering of animation and video.
While DirectX adds advantages, apparently it also tosses up some roadblocks. Dean Hachamovitch, the general manager of the Internet Explorer team, says DirectX is hard to get right: “there's a huge benefit but it takes a lot of work to get all of the details right – like how do controls like Flash work and what about printing?” Being best positioned to “get all the details right”, DirectX helps Microsoft, but may not help out cross-platform browsers, which may not want to make the commitment.
IE9 will better support standards, such as CSS, including CSS3. IE9 scores 574 out of 578 on the CSS3 selectors test--much better than the 330 out of 578 scored by IE8. (Again, Safari and Firefox on my Mac both score perfect 578s.)
IE9 is at best a work in progress. Right now there is no canvas or SVG support, and no real commitment to HTML 5 standards. But, with no release date yet announced, and a technical preview not available until sometime next year, it’s a good bet IE9 will evolve into something a bit different than what we’re seeing today.