Even though Steve Jobs retired, his mammoth, forward-looking hit-or-miss vision is still leaving its fingerprints all over the tech industry. Case in point: Adobe Flash. By now, everyone knows that Apple refused to allow Flash to run on iOS systems. For the Metro (read: mobile) version of IE10 in Windows 8, Microsoft’s not only blocking Flash functionality, it's jumping whole hog on the HTML5 bandwagon and restricting plug-ins entirely.
In case you missed it, Microsoft last night put its final coat of polish on Internet Explorer 9 and released the finished browser to the public. Not wasting any time, Google has made available its WebM video plug-in for IE9. It's not a finished release, but a technology preview that Google admits has some known issues. What those issues are is anyone's guess, as the page Google links too is still blank.
Google's Chrome Frame plug-in for Internet Explorer (6,7 and 8) has stepped out of beta after having undergone months of fine-tuning, the company announced Friday. Primarily meant to provide additional features, speed and stability on legacy browsers, the plug-in literally turns Internet Explorer into Google Chrome. It entered beta in June with the development team focusing its efforts on improving speed and stability.
“A stable release is just the beginning for Google Chrome Frame. We’ve set aggressive goals for future releases: we’re working on making start-up speed even faster and removing the current requirement for administrator rights to install the plug-in. Expect more improvements and features in the near future, as we plan to release on the same schedule as Google Chrome,” the company said in a blog post.
However, Microsoft is not looking forward to future Chrome Frame releases, as it believes the plug-in “has doubled the attach area for malware and malicious scripts.”
Mozilla today released Firefox 3.6.4, the latest version of its flagship browser, and in so doing entered the crash protection club. This version stands out from its predecessors mainly due to the way it tackles plug-in crashes.
Firefox will now remain unaffected by plug-in crashes as the latest version does not run plug-ins inside the same process as the browser – Chrome and Safari already include this feature. So instead of the browser reeling under the weight of a crashing plug-in, it holds firm and notifies the user of the crash. The user can even reload the plug-in without interrupting the ongoing browsing session.
“At this time Firefox offers crash protection for Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight on Windows and Linux computers. Support for other plugins and operating systems will become available in a future Firefox release,” Mozilla's Mike Bletzner wrote in a blog entry announcing the release.
After months of betas and release candidates, the final version of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 is available for download. We've been running the release candidate for a few months, but if you were holding back, now's the time to make the jump. Most of the improvements are not particularly user-facing. The one feature that people will notice is the addition of hardware acceleration of Flash content.
The hardware acceleration will use a computer's graphics processing abilities to more efficiently run Flash content, taking strain off the CPU. The Mac version of Flash 10.1 does not have hardware acceleration built in at this time. This capability is still being developed in the Gala Project. Apple just opened the necessary APIs a few weeks ago, so we expect a bit of a wait.
What we didn't get today is a final version of Flash 10.1 for Android. We don't know when that product will move out of beta and Adobe isn't giving any hints. Get it here. Do you feel like the new Flash is running better on your system?
Somewhere, someone out there is saying "Told you so!" The reason? Oracle has begun charging $90 per user on a plug-in for Microsoft Office that Sun Microsystems used to give away for free.
The tool makes it so Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users can read, edit, and save documents in the ODF (Open Document Format), the same one used by OpenOffice. Oracle's only selling the plug-in in quantities of 100 or more, which works out to $9,000 per order, at least for the perpetual license. Oracle also offers 1-5 year licenses ranging in price from $18 to $63 per user, which are also only available in quantities of 100 or more.
If that weren't enough of a 'gotcha,' customers who wish to receive upgrades in the future must also purchase a support contract.
According to Greg Spencer, a Google Chromium programmer, hardware 3D acceleration might be coming to Chrome sooner than you think.
"The O3D team is working on getting O3D integrated into the Chromium build, and we're close to being able to complete our first step towards integration: To build the O3D plugin as part of the Chromium code base, and link it into Chromium DLL," Spencer stated in a blog post.
Chromium is the open-source project behind Google Chrome and Spencer said that he'll be making the Windows build of Chromium be dependent upon building O3D as part of the build process.
What this means to Joe User -- or more appropriately, Joe Gamer -- is an extra incentive for Web developers to build browser-based games capable of tapping into 3D graphics.
For a while, the Google Earth plug-in was only available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Now, it looks like Google has allowed their very own browser to get in on the fun, making it available as of this week.
“As of ~4 p.m. PST today, Google Chrome 1.0+ on Windows is an officially supported browser,” wrote a Google Employee in an Email sent out to a mailing list yesterday. “That means Chrome users will no longer get the unsupported browser message, and the plugin and API should work just as they would in other supported browsers.”
Mozilla's Firefox browser's biggest strength has always been customization. When Mozilla created Firefox 3, the huge improvements in its underlying architecture made Firefox 2 plugins obsolete. To help encourage a new generation of add-ons, Mozilla Labs launched the Extend Firefox 3 contest in March to create a new generation of plugins.
Entries wrapped up on July 4th, and after spending the rest of the summer judging over 100 entries, Mozilla Labs has finally announced the winners of Extend Firefox 3.
"The Envelope, Please"
Extend Firefox 3 presented grand prizes in three categories:
Best New Add-on
Best Updated Add-on
Best Music Add-on
And, now, the winners (drum roll, please):
Best New Add-on
Pencil - a GUI prototyping and diagramming application
Microsoft Live Labs, where Microsoft is helping to create the future of online information, released its Photosynth 3D imaging service yesterday, CNet reports.
Photosynth enables you to create a freely-navigable and zoomable 3D space by combining hundreds of photos with overlapping data, but unlike panorama-stitching programs, you get better results if you shoot your photos from a variety of different angles and zoom settings (or different focal-length prime lenses).Photosynth isn't for photography snobs, either. It works with all types of digital camera images, even from camera phones.
To sign up for Photosynth, you need a Windows Live ID (a free Hotmail account will work). After you sign up for Photosynth, you download free software for viewing synths (Microsoft's term for the 3D images you create with Photosynth) and for creating them. For best "synthiness," you'll need to shoot at least 100 pictures, and many of the examples you can view on the Photosynth website include 200 or more images. If you ever wondered why you need a 4GB or larger flash memory card for your camera, wonder no longer. A thorough Photosynth session can use up every bit of space on your largest memory card.
To learn more about Photosynth, and to give us your comments on this new imaging tool, catch us after the jump.