The European Union, in all its infinite wisdom, decided that if Microsoft were to offer consumers a choice in which browser to use with Windows, Internet Explorer would lose a chunk of its dominant market share and the world, or at least Europe, would be better off for it. Rather than face further penalties, Microsoft begrudgingly obliged, offering a so-called "browser ballot" to 200 million Windows users in Europe so that they could pick a default browser out of a list of 12. Did it work?
According to a report in The New York Times, the browser ballot has had very little impact six months into the process, sparking a debate over its effectiveness as an antitrust measure.
"I'm sure that it is increasing pressure on Microsoft, which has been losing share anyway," said Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter. "But it hasn't caused a big upheaval in rankings."
StatCounter's numbers tell the story. Since January of this year, IE's share of the European browser market has dropped from 44.9 percent to 39.8 percent (5.1 percentage points). Keeping in mind that the browser ballot was introduced in March of 2010, Microsoft's share dropped by 5.5 percentage points in 2009. In 2008 -- the same year Google released its Chrome browser -- IE dropped by 8 points. Chrome has account for the bulk of IE's drop in market share, and judging by the numbers, it was doing just fine on its own.
"While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications. Because of this, we won’t be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time. Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don’t know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold." source
"Microsoft's new browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), will not run on Windows XP, now or when the software eventually ships, the company confirmed this week.
The move makes Microsoft the first major browser developer to drop support for XP, the world's most popular operating system, in a future release." source
"The stable channel has been updated to 220.127.116.116 for Windows, and includes the following features and security fixes (since 4.0):
*Disabling experimental new anti-reflected-XSS feature called "XSS Auditor". The feature is still experimental, and we're disabling it while we look into some serious performance issues in rare cases. Please see this post for more details about what the XSS Auditor is." source
"Unhappy with their lot, six of seven second-tier browsers have petitioned regulators for increased prominence on the screen that gives Windows users in the European Union a choice of browsers besides Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
The browser makers on Thursday sent a petition to Neelie Kroes, a European Commission vice president, and other regulators who have been dealing with the browser-choice technology that Microsoft has begun distributing to millions in Europe as part of an antitrust case against the software company. The top five browsers dominate the market, but more obscure browser makers hope the EU antitrust action will grant them more relevance." source
"Opera Software today released Opera 10.50, the fastest Web browser thus-far produced for Windows computers. Opera 10.50 also includes a sleek and refined new design, as well as private browsing, where Opera hides all traces of sites you visit. Opera 10.50 is available completely free from www.opera.com." source
All the buzz in the browser wars as of late has to do with Google's Chrome browser, and with good reason. Sporting a minimalistic interface and limited functionality, it's always been hard to take Chrome too seriously. Alternative players like Opera offer far more functionality out of the box, and of course there's Firefox, the fully customizable browser with thousands of extensions. But that's all changed now that Chrome is ready to run with the big dogs with official extensions support. Not that extensions are brand new to Chrome, but up until recently, you had to try your luck with a beta build if you wanted that functionality. Not anymore, so if youv'e been thinking about giving Chrome a second (or first) look, now is the time.
"On Wednesday, Mozilla issued patches for versions 3.5.8 and 3.0.18 of the browser, sending out fixes for the latter even though it had said it would stop supporting Firefox 3.0 in January.
In its security bulletin, the company said the vulnerabilities had previously been resolved in Firefox 3.6, which was launched on 21 January.
The five flaws addressed by Mozilla included three the company rated 'critical'. These three flaws involve an error in handling out-of-memory conditions; stability errors in the Gecko rendering engine; and a bug in the way Mozilla's implementation of web workers handles posted messages, Mozilla said. Web workers are used to carry out scripting tasks in a way that reduces the processing load on the user interface." source
Unfortunately for Opera, my tests show more work is needed.
The beta version of Opera 10.5 arrived Thursday morning, and I thought it a good time to compare how some of the cutting-edge versions of the browsers were shaping up in performance--especially because Mozilla has released a preview version of the next version of Firefox." source
"Mozilla wants its Firefox browser to drop support for Mac OS X 10.4--the operating system also known as Tiger that was released in 2005--but the plan is running into some resistance.
If support is indeed removed, then Firefox 3.6--the current version of the browser--would be the last one to support Mac OS X 10.4, although Mozilla would still issue updates for several months after the succeeding version of Firefox is released.
'"We would like to take advantage of more modern technologies on Mac OS X, and 10.4 support has been a hindrance,' Josh Aas, one of Mozilla's Mac experts, said in a mailing list post. 'We are planning to make the decision to remove 10.4 support final and remove the code from the tree. If you have any strong objections please let us know now.'" source