Every month we examine the state of the browser market in terms of market share, and it's usually more of the same. Internet Explorer, while still dominating with over a 50 percent share, slides downward month after month. Firefox, still the biggest threat to IE if looking at the numbers and not the trend, also continues to lose market share, but at a much slower pace. And Chrome, which popularized the concept of a minimalistic browser interface, just keeps gaining ground. While all this has been going on, Apple's Safari browser has been closing in on the big three.
If like most Maximum PC readers you’re the first person friends and family call when looking for tech advice, you might want to think twice before suggesting they move away from Internet Explorer. According to a recent report from NSS Labs, Internet Explorer 9’s dual-pronged approach to blocking malicious URLs wasn’t just slightly better than the rest; it’s pretty much night and day.
It's funny to think back when Google first launched its Chrome browser, a simplistic window to the Web that didn't look like any other browser out there. The minimalistic interface caught surfers off guard, and the lack of support for third party extensions was, to many, a deal killer. And today? Google's Chrome browser is, in many ways, the model browser that others have started to emulate, and it might eventually become the most used browser on the planet.
We don't like IE6. Neither does Microsoft. In fact, the company actually maintains a site dedicated to telling the world how badly IE6 sucks and pleading for everybody to just stop using it, already. Their aim seems a bit off, though, if the numbers released today by metrics company NetApplications are any indication. IE6 is definitely losing market share, but the browser seems determined to drag its younger brothers kicking and screaming into the toilet with it.
The fine art of browser vendors touting their respective browsers while simultaneously deriding competing ones has been reduced to a very banal affair of late, with most vendors simply concentrating on browsing speeds and HTML5-related enhancements. Does even a single browser vendor not possess the will and imagination necessary to break this trend? Apparently, Microsoft has done just that by comparing IE9’s power consumption habits with that of other major browsers, including Safari 5, Opera 11, Chrome 10, and Firefox 4. Hit the jump for the results.
The last time Maximum PC played host to a knock-down, drag-out dogfight for the browser crown, it was predominantly a two way scuffle featuring Mozilla’s spunky Firefox browser, then in version 2.0, versus Microsoft’s revitalized Internet Explorer, which had just been updated to IE7. We ultimately declared Firefox the winner, but that was four years ago, which, in computer years, is an eternity. Boy how things have changed since then, and at the same time, stayed the same.
Our goal is to figure out which of these three is the best vehicle for navigating cyberspace. We’ll be paying particular attention to new features, security, privacy, and of course performance. We’ll even throw in a few power user tips for each one. And for those of you who roll with Opera and Safari, don’t worry, we’ll cover the latest versions of those, too. In the words of Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
Apple has made its war against Adobe Flash a very public affair, but a new heavyweight has arrived to pitch in their support for the cause. Mozilla’s VP of products Jay Sullivan told Fast Company in a recent interview that flash was “plug-in prison”, and felt strongly that emerging standard such as HTML5 should be used whenever possible to help speed up its demise.
Apple earlier today updated its Safari browser to version 5.0.4, plugging up 62 security holes in the process. Even so, it took French security firm Vupen just 5 seconds to exploit the browser and take home a $15,000 bounty from TippingPoint for doing so. This marks the first time in four years that Charlie Miller, an analyst with Security Evaluators, wasn't first to crack the Safari browser in the annual Pwn2Own contest. And what of Microsoft's IE8 browser? It didn't fare much better.
Google has been coping a fair amount of flak ever since it announced the withdrawal of H.264 support from its Chrome browser. Apparently, the internet giant was having nightmares about a closed, royalty-fettered future of web video before it decided to drop H.264 support in favor of the open source WebM format. However, the company couldn’t quite explain why it continues to support other closed-source technologies like Flash and Silverlight.
The internet giant posted a lengthy explanation on the Chromium Blog this past Friday, but did little to address the principal gripe about its decision to drop H.264 support. In fact, instead of explaining why it has different yardsticks for different closed technologies, it actually made it a point to emphasize support for Flash and Silverlight. It now sees a symbiosis between H.264 and the two plug-ins.
“H.264 plays an important role in video and the vast majority of the H.264 videos on the web today are viewed in plug-ins such as Flash and Silverlight. These plug-ins are and will continue to be supported in Chrome,” wrote Mike Jazayeri, a product manager at Google, in a blog post.
“Our announcement was only related to the <video> tag, which is part of the emerging HTML platform. While the HTML video platform offers great promise, few sites use it today and therefore few users will be immediately impacted by this change.”
It is now concentrating its efforts on popularizing the use of the open-source WebM format for HTML5 video. An uphill task to say the least. Nonetheless, the WebM Project team will soon release plugins to enable WebM support in Internet Explorer and Safari through the HTML standard <video> tag. This not only defies logic but belies the raison d'être of HTML5 video, which was conceived as a means of disencumbering web video from the clutches of special plugins. That said, all major stakeholders are equally culpable for the current state of fragmentation.
Another major hurdle in WebM’s path is the widespread hardware support that H.264 currently enjoys. The open-source format is unlikely to take off in an era of hardware-accelerated video without support from GPU vendors.
Google's Chrome browser is now the go-to browser for 1 out of every 10 PC users, suggests new data by Net Market Share. Let's put that in perspective. At the beginning of 2010, Chrome's share of the browser market hovered around 5.6 percent. By the end of December 2010, Chrome's share has almost doubled, finishing the year with just under 10 percent.
Much of that has come at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, still the most used browser on the planet, but no longer uncatchable. It's hard to scoff at a 57.08 percent share of the market, which is where IE ended 2010 at, but that's more than 5 percentage points down from January 2010.
It's also been a rocky year for Mozilla's Firefox browser, which started 2010 with a 24.43 percent share of the market and ended with 22.81 percent. As for the other browsers, Opera barely budged (dropping slightly from 2.38 percent to 2.23 percent), while Safari climbed more than a percentage point from 4.53 percent in January 2010 to 5.89 percent in December 2010.