The labs team at Mozilla has been hard at work on Jetpack 0.2, and is actively looking for volunteers to help test out, and give feedback on the new experimental UI. For those who haven’t been following its development, Jetpack allows users to create custom sidebar applications. These can range from something as simple as a Twitter stream, to a fully functional media player that will allow you to view flash videos while still surfing the web in the same tab.
According to Jetpack designer Aza Raskin “Jetpack is two things at once: it is a platform for experimentation and it is also a solid set of APIs that anyone to easily build new Firefox features”. It’s pretty clear that the web browser, like most modern operating systems is a mature platform, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Mozilla is likely hoping that if Jetpack takes off (pardon the pun), it will be easier to break away from the pack in the future.
Users wishing to get involved in Jetpack’s development are encouraged to install the add-on, report bugs, or even just hop into the discussion groups to leave feedback. Hit the jump to check out a video of Jetpack in action, and make sure to leave your experiences in the comments if you decide to give it a try!
When it comes to handing out fines, the European Commission doesn't mess around. Just last month the EC ____ slapped Intel with a record setting $1.45 billion after finding the chip maker guilty of anticompetitive practices, while in 2004, the EC slammed Microsoft with what today would amount to about a $790 million fine.
The aforementioned incidents no doubt weighing on Microsoft's mind, the software maker will release a version of Windows 7 in Europe with Internet Explorer 8 stripped out.
"To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer," Microsoft said in a memo. "Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy an convenient for PC manufacturers to preinstall IE8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose."
Probably a good move, as European regulators earlier this year warned that bundling a browser in Windows would likely violate European antitrust law.
Apple, who knows a thing or two about marketing, released its Safari 4 web browser this week calling it the "world's fastest and most innovative web browser." Sound familiar? It should, because Apple made the same claim a little over four months ago when it released Safari 4 in beta form, only now the company has taken its self-praise a step further.
"The successful beta release helped us fine tune Safari 4 into an even better, faster version that customers are going to love," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Safari is enjoyed by 70 million users worldwide and with its blazing fast speed, innovative features, and support for modern web standards, it's the best browser on any platform."
But the "best browser on any platform"? Scores of Firefox users addicted to add-ons might have something to say about that.
Available in alpha form for some time now, Opera Software has just released its upcoming Opera 10 browser as a beta 1 download.
Speed appears to be the main focus for Opera 10, which sports a new compression technology called Opera Turbo. According to Opera, this will provide "significant improvements in browsing speeds over limited-bandwidth connections." In general, the company claims up to a 40 percent performance boost in Opera 10 with its Presto 2.2 rendering engine.
Other new features include a customizable Speed Dial for storing 4 to 25 websites, a resizable search field, new visual tabs and sleeker design, an inline spell checker, and a boatload more.
Opera 10 is expected to be released in final form before the end of the year. In the meantime, you can read more about the new browser here, and grab the beta here.
Mozilla announced it will start giving away Jetpacks to users, but you can't use them to fly around your neighborhood or to stir up general mayhem. So what exactly can you do with it?
Oh. Well that's cool too, we suppose. Apparently, Jetpack will be the tool for building the next generation of add-ons, and according to Mozilla, they can be written "in under a dozen lines of code." But it's not just developers who should be excited.
"More importantly, from a user-perspective, Jetpack will allow new features to be added to the browser without a restart co compatibility issues, resulting in little to no disruption to the online experience," Mozilla added.
Flock takes its Web 2.0 experience a few notches higher with the release of version 2.5 of its social networking browser. The new version updates its core code to Firefox 3.0.10, the latest Firefox build (in final release form) currently available.
New in version 2.5, Facebook Chat has now been integrated as an instant messaging service As has been Flock's M.O., users have the ability to drag content from web pages directly into the chat box. The Flock team also completely overhauled the browser's Twitter integration. Replies, now called @mentions, and direct mentions are now separated in the sidebar, and a new widget added to MyWorld makes it possible to perform and save Twitter searches.
Other new features include FlockCast, which allows users to broadcast actions from the web directly into Facebook, and the addition of Bebo as a People service.
Both Apple's Safari and Opera Software's Opera browsers have come under a bit of fire by Thomas Duebendorfer of Google Switzerland and Stefan Frei of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The two recently published a research paper on "Why Silent Updates Boost Security," noting deficiencies in how both aforementioned browsers go about rolling out security updates.
According to the paper, just 53 percent of users surfing with a 3.x version of Safari have applied a new update within the past three weeks, and only 33 percent of users had updated to version 3.2.1 three weeks after it had been released. The paper noted that Opera will check for updates weekly, but installing them requires "serious user activity," as the update follows the same procedure as if the installing Opera for first time.
"Opera browser users apparently don't update frequently," the researchers wrote. "After three weeks of a new release, a disappointing maximum of 24 percent active daily users of Opera 9.x have the newest Opera browser installed. It's a pity that 76 percent of Opera 9.x users currently don't benefit from the security improvements and new features of new Opera versions with three weeks of its release."
The paper went on to say that engineering time would be better spent on increasing update effectiveness rather than working on new features.
"All in all, the poor update effectiveness of Apple Safari and Opera gives attackers plenty of time to use known exploits to attacker users of outdated browsers," the researchers concluded.
A lot has changed in the browser landscape over the past 15 years, including some, like Netscape Navigator, going by the wayside. During that time, Opera has grown into one of the most web compliant browsers around, was one of the first to implement tabbed browsing, and introduced mouse gestures way back in 2001.
"Geir and I knew the web would forever change how people live, work, and play -- the web browser would be the tool to enable that transformation," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera. "Today, I am humbled by what our company, together with the worldwide community of Opera users, has achieved. In the next 15 years, billions of people will jon the web. I am confident we will give them even more reasons to choose Opera."
Outside of the desktop, Opera has been used in both the Nintendo DS and on the Wii. A mobile version of the browser -- Opera Mobile -- has also found a home on several smartphones and PDAs, as well as Opera Mini being used on many mobile phones.
You can read more about what makes Opera tick in our recent Browser Battle feature, right after you wish it a happy 15th birthday.
Mozilla yesterday made available its fourth beta release of the upcoming Firefox 3.5 browser, which the company says represents the sixth development milestone. As covered in our Browser Battle feature, Firefox 3.5 (formerly referred to as Firefox 3.1) is built around the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering platform, which Mozilla claims has been in development for the past 10 months.
Minus a handful of known issues -- choppy OGG video/audio playback on older computers to name just one -- Mozilla says the beta 4 release is considered stable, however still intended for developers and members of its testing community.
Google yesterday made available an updated version of its Chrome browser to prevent cross-scripting attacks, whereby visiting a malicious site with Internet Explorer could cause Google Chrome to fire up, open a bunch of tabs, and load harmful scripts.
"An error in handling URLs with a chromehtml: protocol could allow an attacker to run scripts of his choosing on any page or enumerate files on the local disk under certain conditions," Mark Larson, Google Chrome program manager, wrote in a blog post. "If a user has Google Chrome installed, visiting an attacker-controlled web page in Internet Explorer could have caused Google Chrome to launch, open multiple tabs, and load scrips that run after navigating to a URL of the attacker's choice."
The attack wouldn't work if Chrome was already running, Larson added. A new version of Chrome -- 126.96.36.199 -- is now available and will prevent the attack from working regardless. The update is supposed to be rolled out automatically, but in our case, we had to manually force the download. You can do so by clicking on the wrench icon in the upper right corner, select "About Google Chrome," and click on Update Now.