As it turns out, those of us responsible enough to have a computer generally aren’t responsible enough to keep ourselves safe online. Sure, we might get Norton or McAfee at checkout, but that’s generally the easiest step to take. When it comes to surfing the net, if the browser doesn’t update automatically, we probably won’t take the time to update it on our own.
At least, that’s what a study by a pair of Swiss academics and a Google employee revealed. The study, which ran Google results from January 2007 to April 2008, revealed that as a general whole PC users are reluctant to swap software. The swap from IE6 to 7 came gradually, with a primary boost from sales of new PCs with Windows Vista (and IE7) preinstalled. Mac users “seemed more willing to live on the cutting edge, as the Safari 3 beta release was accompanied by a major jump.”
To security conscious users Mozilla’s Firefox came out on top. Its self-updating nature made it a favorite, opposed to others like Opera, which have an update that basically functions as a manual download followed by a new install.
The analysis suggests that most users of web browsers aren’t filled with thoughts of Internet security, but rather with thoughts of convenience. If you’re interested in checking out the study for yourself, you can be sure to check it out in its entirety, here.
Having an internet connection will no longer be mandatory to read, compose, or search through your Gmail. Instead, you'll soon be able to do all of these offline as Google rolls out an experimental feature in the next couple of days to everyone who uses Gmail in the US or UK.
To turn the feature on, you'll click on Settings in your Gmail account, select the Labs tab, and select Enable next to Offline Gmail (our account didn't yet have the feature). After you save the changes, your browser will reload and display a new 'Offline' link which, when clicked, will download the open-source Gears. Google then uses Gears to download a local cache of your mail.
"As long as you're connected to the network, that cache is synchronized with Gmail's servers," Google writes on its blog. "When you lose your connection, Gmail automatically switches to offline mode, and uses the data stored on your computer's hard drive instead of the information sent across the network. You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you're used to doing while reading your webmail online"
Google says not to worry if you have a dodgy or slow connection - enabling the "flacky connection mode" will synchronize your mail with the server in the background, but browsing will take place in the local cache for immediate access. Sounds groovy.
If ever there was a case for parental controls, it's this: According to Virtual Worlds Management, there are now over 200 youth-oriented virtual worlds live, planned, or actively being developed. In other words, rather than grab a ball and glove after school, kids left on their own with access to a computer will literally have hundreds of virtual worlds to choose from and plenty of opportunities to spend their allowance.
When broken down into worlds targeting kids (7 and under), tweens (8-12), and teens (13+), VMW says "the kids market is the clear leader," noting 107 worlds are banking on at least part of their audience consisting of kids in the under-7 range. To make money off these markets, 59 of the virtual worlds use micro-transactions, giving users free access to the world but charging for virtual goods. Another 57 worlds follow the subscription based model, and 46 use advertising, VMW says.
In the latest episode of As the Social Networking World Turns, Facebook not only remains the most popular hangout, but now boasts twice as many users as MySpace. That wasn't the case back in June 2008 when, according to ComScore, both sites hovered around 100 million unique users. Since that time, Facebook has grown by another 100 million users, while MySpace appears to have plateaued.
However, there's always a twist, and MySpace is quick to point out that it still dominates the lucrative U.S. market where the bulk of advertising revenue is to be made.
"We are laser focused on building a sustainable global business which we measure by profits and revenue -- not just eyeballs," MySpace said in a statement. "In a tough economic climate, our international revenue is up 30% year over year and we continue to focus on those markets with the strong monetization opportunities.
"Additionally, MySpace continues to dominate the U.S. market -- where the bulk of online advertising revenues reside -- both in terms of monetization and user engagement with more than 76 million unique users and a 40% spike in engagement year over year."
While true for today, MySpace would do well to prepare for tomorrow. Consider this interesting tidbit: According to ComScore, the internet recently passed a billion global users, which means one-in-five internet users are on Facebook.
“Moving ahead, Microsoft will continue to invest in Windows as a first–class gaming platform through great Windows out of box experiences, our online gaming services including Games for Windows – LIVE, MSN Games, and Messenger games, and through new games for Windows developed by Microsoft Games Studios," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
"Our Windows gaming service efforts will be led by General Manager Ron Pessner, who is joining Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. He comes from within Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division.” “Beyond these changes, we are not commenting on specific personnel issues at this time.”
But enough talk; outside of an admittedly nice redesign, GFW’s actions haven’t made a peep as of late. So c’mon, guys – give us your best “Have at you!” The world is watching. Now deliver.
We’re not going to lie; relations with our Xbox 360 have been strained as of late. Its once-alluring vanilla sheen has faded to a dull gray. At one time effortlessly slim and sleek, its hard drive has fallen into a self-destructive cycle of binge downloading and purging. The passive-aggressive blog posts aren’t helping. And now, as though a sign from the heavens to ease our conflicted minds, Resident Evil 5 is officially infecting PCs the world over. Or, at the very least, in Poland.
"We know for sure that a PC version RE5 will be released. We don't know when exactly but we expect that it will arrive to shops in second half 2009,” said Jerzy Cichocki of CD Projeckt, the company that publishes Capcom titles in Poland.
However, the Xbox 360 isn’t ready to relinquish its control on our Gamerscores (and consequently, our hearts) just yet. Fable II’s radioactive crumb trail, sadly, has no intention of illuminating a path to the PC – at least, not in the near future.
"We're not working on a PC version of Fable II... If this changes we'll make sure you know about it on our website(s),” said Lionhead community head “Woody” after rumors of a PC port surfaced.
VoIP service Skype, which was acquired by Ebay in 2005 for $2.5 billion, might again change hands if the latest rumor comes to fruition. According to reports, Ebay would like nothing more than to offload the VoIP service to Google. But is Google interested?
According to Eric Zeman at InformationWeek, the search company should be. Despite the tough economic times, which is especially taking its toll on the tech industry, Skype saw its fourth quarter revenues spike by 26 percent over the previous quarter. And while Google has been shutting down some of its services, Zeman contends that Skype would make a natural fit alongside services like Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Gmail, and more. It's also interesting to note that a Skype thin client (in beta) exists for Google's Android platform, and a Skype acquisition could lead to native support.
Hit the jump and tell us whether or not you think this would be a good move for Google.
The next version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer takes one step closer to completion as the Redmond software giant released a near final Release Candidate (RC) of IE8 today. Microsoft will have more details regarding Internet Explorer 8 RC1 as the day goes on, CNet reports, but you can already download it from Microsoft's download center here.
Internet Explorer 8 RC1 should offer more than just a glimpse of what the final product will look like.
"The ecosystem should espect the final candidate to behave like the release candidate," IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch said during an interview.
What Hachamovitch didn't say is when exactly the final version will be released.
The PC gaming market isn’t exactly known for clear skies and inviting waters, so one can only imagine that attempting to ford the ol’ river during these harsh economic times would likely result in an unceremonious game over. And so, we speculate, went Microsoft’s logic when it quietly told Games for Windows Live general manager Chris Early to take a hike.
When contacted by Venture Beat, Microsoft simply replied that Early’s time at the software company “has come to a close.” Apparently, he fell off the giant's back along with 1,400 other unfortunate employees.
Frankly, no matter how you look at this, things seem dicey for GFWL. If its head was deemed so non-essential as to be lopped off, you have to wonder how much longer its deaf, dumb, and blind stump of a body can continue to stumble through the buzzsaw forest that is Microsoft in its current state.
As always, we wish Early the best of luck (though technically, this is the second time we’ve done it) and hope he lands in a place where he’ll be able to more effectively pick off the buzzards that everyone seems to think are swarming PC gaming these days.
Has the time really come that Microsoft is forced to include other browsers on their operating systems? Since the early 90’s Microsoft has only bundled Windows with Internet Explorer, but the European Union antitrust agency may force Microsoft to start including other browsers as well.
If Microsoft is forced to install other companies’ browsers, this could represent a new unexploited area for advertisers. It will force OEMs and Microsoft in general to give the end-user a choice of which browser they want on their computer. If this happens, Microsoft will no longer be able to tie certain programs into their browser. For example, Windows Live Messenger will no longer require Internet Explorer. Microsoft may also be required to pay additional fines to the European Union antitrust agency for not including additional browsers on Windows based systems and integrating the operating system with their browser.