Firefox development has always been a bit on the slow side. The wait between versions isn’t as bad as Internet Explorer, but it’s a snail’s pace compared to Google who has nearly unlimited resources to throw into Chrome. Following the release of Firefox 4, Mozilla made a commitment to its users to move to a rapid release schedule. More aggressive timelines means more help is needed to help squash bugs, and today they released a new way for users to help out.
If you read our massive browser battle article, you know that Firefox 4 has recently been released. Call it a response to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9; call it general and expected progress; call it whatever you want—Firefox 4 is no slouch. It takes the best features of Internet Explorer and Chrome, improves them, throws in a mountain of new features itself, and wraps it all up in a sleek, intuitive package. To kick it all off, we’ve put together a visual guide to some of its best new features along with some tips and tricks to help turn you into Firefox power user. Read on!
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.
For those of us whose love for the world is too big to be contained by one social network, staying on top of the updates to all of the services we frequent can be tough, especially when meat-space distractions such as our jobs and families become part of the equation. Fortunately, thanks to Yoono, our Browser Extension of the Week, you'll have ample time to keep up to date with the people you adore as well as take time for the ones you merely tolerate.
Microsoft is either supremely confident in it’s latest revision of Internet Explorer 8, or they’ve already come to terms with the reality that if you put enough hackers in one room, no amount of patching will save them. Either way the software giant announced on March 4th that it wouldn’t be issuing any security patches before the annual Pwn2Own hacking event which runs from March 9th to 11th in Vancouver Canada. If this holds true, they will be the only major browser contender to do so.
Show of hands - how many of you are still clinging to Firefox not because it's the perfect browser, but because it's the best alternative out there to Internet Explorer? Probably a good many of you, and the reason why Firefox has been so hard to supplant as the No. 2 gateway to the Web is because Mozilla had the foresight to make it extensible. Thousands of add-ons exist allowing users to custom tailor the open-source browser however they see fit, and it only takes a few mouse clicks to do so.
Well move over Mozilla, and make room for Google Chrome. Why is that? To start with, Google recently added extension support to Chrome, which was previously only available in beta builds. Now that Google has given users the green light to install third-party add-ons, it's a brand new ballgame in the browser world. And in case you haven't heard, Chrome also supports Greasemonkey scripts, of which there are over 40,000 to choose from.
But those aren't the only reasons to give Chrome a second look. Google continues to tweak the underlying code and add features to what's already a fast, lean, and intelligent browser. Chrome is also highly tweakable, though you wouldn't know it by glancing at the sparse interface.
On the following pages, we'll show you how to soup up Chrome so you can leave Firefox in the rear view mirror and never look back!
Experimenting with new extensions is part of what makes Firefox great, but if you downloaded either the "Sothink Web Video Downloader", or "Master Filer", you probably snagged a nasty Trojan for your troubles. According to an entry on the Mozilla Blog both these extensions contain code which exploit vulnerabilities in all versions of Windows, and were downloaded close to 5,000 times before being spotted.
The extensions in question were contained in the "experimental" area of the official Firefox add-on site, and while it might seem like little consolation for anyone who got infected, users grabbing extensions from this section are warned before download that this could happen. Mozilla employs a special add-on scanner which supposedly checks all new entries for malicious code, but they were forced to acknowledge that the security process failed. "[Add-ons] performs a malware check on all add-ons uploaded to the site, and blocks add-ons that are detected as such," said yesterday's blog posting. "This scanning tool failed to detect the Trojan."
Mac and Linux users who downloaded these add-on's are unaffected, but anyone who used the extensions in Windows are being warned by Mozilla to delete all traces of the infected file, and run a virus scan. Mozilla is promising to boost the number of times it scans files for malware in the future, and will also step up how often it scans its entire catalog of add-on's.
Does this hurt your trust in Firefox extensions? Or was this bound to happen eventually?
Google has been waging a very public war against IE6, but it would all seem a bit hypocritical if similar vulnerabilities were also found in Chrome. As a preventative measure, Google is offering up anywhere from $500-$1337 to any user who finds and reports a flaw using its Chromium Bug Tracker forums.
The initiative is vaguely similar to a program being offered by Mozilla, but it is still a great way to prove to the public that they are taking security vulnerabilities seriously. It gives the open source community both a reason to poke around in the code, and a healthy reward for being a good digital Samaritan. At the very least its reassuring to know users have a way to report vulnerabilities to the company, and feel confident they will be taken seriously. It feels like every time a new critical flaw in IE is discovered, it was disclosed to the public in an attempt to pressure Microsoft into working on a patch.
Firefox is a force to be reckoned with in the desktop browser space. But could the Mozilla foundation be looking to port it to the PS3? Playstation Insider claims that Sony and Mozilla are in talks to do just that. "We recently received a tip from a source very close to Sony who says that they have been in talks with Mozilla lately about possibly porting Firefox over to the PS3," said Playstation Insider’s Dustin Rudzinski.
It’s no secret that the Playstation’s current browser is nothing to write home about. So access to a “real” browser would be a real treat for PS3 owners. The tipster didn’t know if any deal had actually been struck, but what a pleasant firmware update that would be. So PS3 owners, if you had Firefox on the console, would you actually use it to browse?
In order to surf the web, you need a web browser, and today there are several different ones to choose from. If you're looking for a lean, no-nonsense browser, Chrome is the one for you. Internet Explorer still stands as the odds on favorite when you want to make sure pages load correctly (not because of superior standards support, but because its majority market share have driven developers to code their webpages to look best on IE). Firefox has found more than a niche market by giving users near endless customization, and Apple's Safari purports to run circles around everyone else (it doesn't). And then there's the cornucopia of alternative browsers and browser shells, like Flock (Firefox-based) and Avant (IE-based).
No matter which browser you choose to surf the web with, the features you take for granted today are the result of nearly two decades of browser design. On the following pages, we'll take you through a visual tour, in chronological order, of every major PC-based (read: not Mac) web browser that ever was, starting with the very first one: WorldWideWeb. We'll tell you what made each one unique and, when applicable, what it contributed to modern browser development.
Sit back, buckle up, and hit the jump to get started!