The EU, and various other stakeholders, *cough* Mozilla and Opera *cough*, filed suit against Microsoft in 2007, alleging that the act of only having Internet Explorer installed on the Windows operating system by default was an anti-competitive business move that violated EU antitrust laws. The suit proved effective, as European regulators and Microsoft executives have reached an agreement on how to move forward without the “help” of the courts. Microsoft has consented to a five year contract that requires all copies of Windows in the EU to present the end-user with a “Choice-Screen” that presents an option of 12-browsers to have install. Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, AOL, and Flock all made the short list along with a few lesser known browsers. Microsoft, which has already paid around $1.7 billion in EU fines due to the IE debacle, will face additional penalties if they decide not to honor the five year deal. Microsoft estimates that 100 million current Windows users will be presented with the pop-up while another 30 million will see it as a result of new hardware or software purchases. The “Choice Screen” will be presented to users running Windows 7, Vista, or XP, and will begin showing up next year. More →
Microsoft announced on Thursday that it will sell a European version of Windows 7 sans Internet Explorer. The decision to ship these specialized “E” versions of Windows 7 arises from a January decision by the European Commission that determined the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows violated European competition law. The new E versions will be available in 23 different languages and are projected to launch at the same time as regular versions of Windows 7. One side benefit of this “un-bundling” is that computer manufacturers will be able to install their browser of choice on Windows 7 systems. Mozilla, Opera, Google; get to courting… Hooray for fair business practice, umm, if that’s what this is.
While Google’s Chrome Web browser is still extremely young in terms of development, there are a few areas where it most definitely pushed browser technology forward. One such area is tabbed browsing. As you likely already know, Chrome (and now Internet Explorer 8 as well) treats each open tab as a separate running process. This setup drastically reduces the potential for a browser crash — theoretically, issues with a website open in one tab will not affect other tabs or general browser operation — as well as speeding up performance and going great lengths to improve browser security. As for when we might see the new tab process implementation in a Firefox release, incremental milestones are scheduled throughout 2009 but we likely won’t see full implementation until next year. Mozilla’s post covering process splitting does mention some elements that are currently undecided, such as “taking Chromium’s networking stack to replace Necko” might help speed the release process up a bit, but we don’t mind waiting as long as it’s done right.
[Via The Next Web]
Microsoft announced the availability of Internet Explorer 8 today and the preliminary reactions around the net have been pretty good. While betas and RC versions have been floating around for quite a while, the final version of IE8 will be available for your download at Noon EST. With its promised security enhancements, color-coded tabbed browsing and the incorporation of add-on accelerators, IE8 may be worth a try for those who have not already sampled the beta or RC1 versions. Let’s hope Microsoft’s servers can stand up to the demand this time.
Ask, and ask, and ask….and ye shall receive. Mozilla has finally unleashed a functional “Milestone Release” version of its Fennec mobile Firefox browser. Available immediately for anyone with an HTC Touch Pro. The release version is limited in several ways, most notably without support for soft keyboards, automatic version updating, and plugins, but everything else should work more or less as promised. This is exciting news for anyone that has been eagerly anticipating Mozilla’s official move into the mobile space, and hopefully marks the beginning of significant product development for something that will hopefully do to Pocket Internet Explorer/Opera Mini what the desktop version of Firefox has done to its Internet Explorer equivalent, i.e. render it obsolete. Anyone interested in taking the release for a test drive should hit the Read link for access to the CAB file, though we definitely recommend making a complete backup of your handset before proceeding too eagerly.
Read (Warning: CAB file)
According to data from market research firm Net Applications, Microsoft’s web browser market share has dropped below 70 percent in the month of November. Yes, 70 percent is still an overwhelming majority but considering Internet Explorer is said to have peaked with close to 95 percent of the market, this new data represents yet another area where the scales are continuing to level out. Is the era of the Redmond behemoth finally coming to an end? Not any time soon of course, but Microsoft is indeed having its fortress walls slowly chipped away in nearly every major area of its business. Windows OS market share, Microsoft’s bread and butter, is at a 15-year low and MSN / Microsoft Live Search usage is hovering between 5 and 8 percent of the market, depending on whose numbers you look at. Internet Explorer represents yet another area where Redmond is faltering and Microsoft is showing no signs of movement that might slow the burn. Conversely, Mozilla’s Firefox jumped above 20 percent in November – the first time it has maintained a share over 20 percent for a full month since Net Applications began tracking relevant data.
[Via Silicon Alley Insider]
If anyone knows how to make a browser powerful, but user-friendly, it’s Mozilla. Fennec is going to be no different in terms of their end goal for the mobile browser. First, they intend to use every last bit of screen real-estate to the browser, removing all controls, tabs, and buttons that would take away from the body of the page. Sullivan says they want to “give over the entire screen of the device to the Web content, removing all user-interface controls entirely.” How will a user navigate, you ask? Certain screen controls and finger swipes (for touchscreens) will activate the UI controls in a snap. If that isn’t cool enough for you, future versions may also include support for haptic feedback. While this is all cool and snazzy, Fennec has its work cut out because the others (Safari, Opera, Blackberry, Symbian) have established themselves and are still making progress. For more info on Fennec and what its future holds, hit the link!
Steve Ballmer has been all over the globe lately. First, he was in South Korea teaming up with LG for a future with Windows Mobile in LG smartphones. This week, he made his way to Australia with those loud, powerful and rather obnoxious words, “Developers, developers, developers!” But the excitement died down quickly when a student at Power to Developers event asked, “Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?” Ballmer’s response was that the question was “cheeky, but a good question, but cheeky”. Right, that’s when you know you’ve struck a nerve. After treating the crowd to his usual rant about looking to and anticipating the future, all Ballmer could really say about open-source browsers was that they are “interesting.” Very similar to his feelings about Google’s Android platform.
Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.
So it looks like Microsoft is probably going there, but not all the way there. Catch the drift? Even then, if Microsoft were to show an iota of interest in open source engines like WebKit, it could be huge news for third-party developers and in turn, to end users. We’ll have to wait and see where Microsoft is going with this, but don’t go thinking they’re ready to open up and embrace open source quite yet.
UPDATE: It’s available today.
[Via The Register]