Microsoft and Adobe have been duking it out on the desktop to become the definitive platform for rich media content, and now it looks like that fight is going mobile. We'll file this one under the rumor category, but BoyGeniusReport (BGR) says it has "pretty much confirmed" that Research in Motion is planning on integrating full Flash and Microsoft Silverlight support into the Blackberry browser.
You might be wondering how today's Blackberry devices can pull off the power needed for full Flash (not Flash Lite) and Silverlight support, and the answer is, they won't. BGR says we won't see either one until next summer when RIM will release more powerful handsets along with a major overhaul of the software.
The next summer release gives the competition plenty of time to catch up. As it stands, just a few Nokia devices boast Flash support, and Flash Lite at that, along with the HTC Hero. As for Silverlight, we don't know of any smartphone that supports the platform, but come next summer, we can't imagine Blackberry will be the only one.
Mozilla isn't putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to upgrade to Firefox 3.5 (such a tactic wouldn't be feasible - we ran the numbers), but don't put it past the open-source browser maker to try and nag Firefox 3.0 users to death.
We suppose if you've gone this long without upgrading, you probably have your reasons why, or maybe you're just an overweight, forgetful gamer living in Seattle (it wasn't us that said it). Whatever the reason, Mozilla plans to send out messages to Firefox 3.0.13 users urging them to upgrade to Firefox 3.5 because it's "twice as fast."
Staunch holdouts who refuse to see what all the fuss is about are welcome to ignore the upgrade offer, but will again be reminded in 24 hours. Or select the option to never upgrade, but according to news and rumor site The Register, doing so will only remove the upgrade prompt for "several weeks or months," not permanently.
If the reminders don't bother you, the lack of security updates and patches might. Firefox 3.0 users have until January 2010 to upgrade before Mozilla cuts off support.
Nope, Google's Chrome browser still doesn't come with extension support (do'h!), but as of the latest developer build, it does come with built-in bookmark syncing (woohoo!).
"Many users have several machines, one at home and one at work for example. This new feature makes it easy to keep the same set of bookmarks on all your machines, and store them alongside your Google Docs for easy web access," Google wrote in a blog post.
Somewhat late to the bookmark syncing game, Chrome is the only major browser to make the feature both built-in and free. User's of Apple's Safari browser have been able to sync bookmarks for some time now, but it requires a MobileMe subscription ($99/year). Firefox users don't have to fork over any ducats, but they do have to install an appropriate extension, such as Xmarks.
If you're a Firefox user, you may want to check which version you're running. That's because Dana Blankenhorn over at ZDNet has apparently discovered that Firefox 3.5 kills support for Microsoft .Net Framework Assistant 1.0, and while that may put a smile on some open-source fans' faces who despise everything Microsoft, it's a different story for programmers who require .Net support.
As long as you're running the most recent version of Firefox, this looks to be a moot issue. Released earlier this month, Firefox 3.5.2 appears to play nice with .Net, with our add-ons manager showing Microsoft .Net Framework Assistant 1.1 installed. We're also given the option to uninstall it, which hasn't always been the case with previous versions.
If you've been surfing long enough to remember the heated browser battle between Netscape and Internet Explorer, then you also remember how Microsoft buried its competitor in the ground, unfairly some would claim. Netscape isn't making a come back, but its developer, Marc Andreessen, is barging back into the browser scene by backing a start-up called RockMelt, a company determined to build a new browser.
According to The New York Times, Andreessen isn't yet ready to elaborate on the project, but he did suggest the new browser would be unlike any that are currently available.
"There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch," Andreessen added.
RockMelt appears to be a good fit for Andreessen. The company was founded by Eric Vishria and TimHowes, both of which held executive spots at Opsware, a company Andreessen co-founded before selling off to HP for a cool $1.6 billion. Howes also was part of the Netscape team.
Opera Software today has made available for download the third beta version of its Opera 10 browser software. Performance and stability were prioritized for the latest release, Opera says.
"For us, it is a resounding success when more than one million people use your beta and are excited enough to give us so much actionable feedback," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "This third beta comes after a lot of careful improvements. We have never released such a solid piece of technology that not only runs seamlessly, but is so nice to look at as well. I am proud of this release, and I hope that the Web-using world will benefit from a browser that is truly ready to do some heavy lifting."
New features also find their way into Opera 10 Beta 3. These include tab tweaks such as more options for tab placement and the ability to view visual thumbnail tabs on the right or left side of the screen, a "more efficient" UI, support for up to 38 languages, crash prevention through an integrated crash logger, and refinements to Opera Turbo.
How much faster? According to Google, tweaks made to the engine have resulted in a 30 percent performance boost over the current stable version, at least when running the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks. But speed isn't the only improvement.
"We've also improved two of the most loved and most used features of Google Chrome: the New Tab page and the Omnibox. Plus, we decided to add a little bit of style by allowing you to deck out your browser with colors, patterns, and images," Google wrote in a blog entry.
Google also said it has started building HTML5 capabilities into the latest beta release, including video tag functionality and web workers. This is the first version of Chrome to do so.
Anyone interested in giving the beta a spin can start right here.
With Firefox 3.5 not long out of the oven, Mozilla has already cooked up the first developer milestone of its next browser release, Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1, now available for download.
"Unlike the year that passed between Firefox 3 and Firefox 3.5, we expect that this 3.6 release will be released in a small number of months," Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard said in a blog post.
If you try accessing the Mozilla store, you'll be greeted with a message saying "The Mozilla Store has been closed for maintenance." Follow the provided link and Mozilla offers a little more insight into exactly why the e-store has been temporarily shut down.
"Today, Mozilla discovered that GatewayCDI, the third-party vendor entrusted to run the backend of the Mozilla Store, suffered a security breach," Mozilla wrote on its blog. "Once notified, we took the immediate preventative step of shutting down the Mozilla Store to ensure that no additional users could be compromised."
Mozilla went on to say that it "immediately reached out to GatewayCDI and encouraged them to quickly inform individuals whose data had been compromised," which seems to indicate it was Mozilla who first discovered the breach.
It's unclear exactly what information was compromised and how many recent shoppers might have been affected, but those who are will be contacted directly by GatwewayCDI, Mozilla says.
The Mozilla Store sells promotional items, including logo'd t-shirts, backpacks, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and more. Shoppers can also pick up the Firefox browser on CD at the e-store.
Thanks to Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood, a pair of researchers at Hewlett-Packard who recently created a browser-based darknet, businesses may soon rest easier knowing their confidential information is safe from prying eyes.
For the uninitiated, a darknet consists of an encrypted peer-to-peer network most often used to communicate files between private groups of people. Darknets are often difficult to setup and maintain for the average user, but the HP researchers say that won't be the case for "Veiled," the name they've given to their browser-based darknet project.
"This will really lower the barriers to participation," Wood told ZDNet UK. "If you want to create a darknet, you can send an encrypted email saying, 'Here's the URL.' When (the recipient visits) the website, the browser can just get (the darkent application) going."
Perhaps best of all, Wood said HP isn't interested in turning the project into a commercial product and has no desire to patent or copyright it. Instead, Wood and Hoffman plan to open source their idea (but not the source code), so that other security researchers can "pick up the baton."