Tag Archives: Firefox

Is Firefox Serious About Blocking the Java Plugin?

Firefox is the second most popular web-browser and it has held this title for too long. Projected figures show that it is going to  lose the title in December. However, an ongoing discussion by Mozilla might accelerate the fact. The discussion is on whether Firefox should allow the Java plugin, which is used for almost all  transactions  (not just online banking transactions) across the world.
java-plugin
A new attack has been identified that decrypts web-traffic and can dig through sensitive and personal information being sent over a transaction. The attack has been termed as  the BEAST (Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS) attack  and it has been demonstrated successfully in a proof-of-concept hack.

Dan Goodin from The Register  talks about the BEAST exploit:

The vulnerability resides in versions 1.0 and earlier of TLS, or transport layer security, the successor to the  secure sockets layer technology  that serves as the internet’s foundation of trust. Although versions 1.1 and 1.2 of TLS aren’t susceptible, they remain almost entirely unsupported in browsers and websites alike, making encrypted transactions on PayPal, GMail, and just about every other website vulnerable to eavesdropping by hackers who are able to control the connection between the end user and the website he’s visiting.

The Public Key Infrastructure has three core services to take care of- Authentication, Integrity and Confidentiality. Authentication makes sure that the people at either end of the transaction are indeed who they claim to be. Integrity ensures that the data being transmitted is sent and received in the same form without alteration. Confidentiality deals with hiding the data from prying eyes, making the data  comprehensible  only to the people at either end. The BEAST attack goes after confidentiality and breaks it successfully.

The bug  689661 on Bugzilla at Mozilla lists out a favorite solution of blacklisting all versions of the Java plugin. This will affect all corporate businesses (ones that are transaction based) and some regular features of services that explicitly rely on the Java plugin, ones like Facebook video chat.

Currently, the only web-browser that is attempting to secure against this attack (without removing Java support) is Google Chrome.

(Image source)

Firefox 7 for Desktop and Android Released!

Yesterday, the Mozilla team has released the seventh version of its popular browser for both desktop and mobile.

On the desktop side, there are not many changes visually. The only visible change is that the http://’ prefix is hidden from the user by default. Most of the changes are internal, and won’t be visible to the end-user. According to the Mozilla developers, the most important change is the reduced RAM usage. The press release states that the new version consumes around 20-30% less memory compared to its predecessor.

Other features include improved start-up and tab loading times, hardware accelerated Canvas to speed up HTML5 based animations and games. The overall stability and security of the new version is also improved compared to its predecessor.

On the mobile side, Firefox for Android has also been updated to version 7. The new version includes improved copy and paste functionality, built0in language detection tool, and WebSockets API. Sadly, Firefox for Android still lacks a major feature Flash support.

The latest version of Firefox can be downloaded from Mozilla.org. Android users can download the latest version from the Android Market.

If you are wondering why Firefox is gaining version numbers so quickly, it is because the Mozilla team has shifted to a new 6-weeks build timeframe. The Alpha build of Firefox 8 is already available for download.

Firefox for Honeycomb Tablets Design Revealed

Mozilla has been very keen on entering the tablet market with their browser and just like for mobile, the browser will provide a unique experience for tablets.

Firefox Honeycomb Browser

Today, one of the design team members at Firefox; Ian Barlow, revealed some new designs for Firefox that will run on Honeycomb based tablets. Most of the design has evolved from the mobile version of Firefox, however, it has been modified to take advantage of the larger screen sizes of tablets.

Firefox Honeycomb Tablets Awesomebar

The Awesomebar on Firefox for Tablets will continue to use tabbed menu to allow for quick access to bookmarks, history and synced desktop activity on the tablet.

Firefox Honeycomb Tablets Tabs

Additionally, Firefox for tablets will display more UI elements on the screen rather than hiding it like they did it on the mobile version of the browser. This will allow you to quickly perform tasks like opening new tabs or scrolling through them.

Overall the design for the tablet version of Firefox looks pretty good and I would definitely like to try it out. However, there is no date on when the tablet version will be released and it might only be compatible with Honeycomb and higher versions of the tablet. Ian has also posted some more mockups of the design of Firefox for tablets on his account, which can be viewed by visiting this link.

So what do you think of the design mockups of Firefox for tablets? Do you like it? Do you think you would prefer it over the Android browser? do drop in  your thoughts through your comments.

The Pitfalls of Firefox’s Rapid Release Cycle [Editorial]

If you have been following the recent Firefox releases, you are probably already aware that Mozilla is now following a rapid release cyclefor Firefox. Frustrated by the innumerable delays that plagued the release of Firefox 4, Mozilla decided to take a leaf out of Google’s book, and release a new version of Firefox every six weeks. Unfortunately, the new quick-fire release policy creates some major issues that Mozilla doesn’t seem to be willing to tackle.

Firefox-Rapid-Release

The first problem is that it makes version numbers redundant. A major version number bump normally indicates the introduction of major new features along with significant enhancements to existing features. However, the biggest new feature in Firefox 6 domain highlighting in the address bar, is something that wouldn’t excite even the most passionate Firefox user. Firefox 5 was even worse.

The biggest feature in Firefox 5 is that the Do Not Trackfeature, which we have discussed in a fair amount of detail in the past, is now more accessible. It is now available under the Privacytab, instead of being buried under Advancedoptions. Yep, the biggest user-perceivable change in Firefox 5 is a minor interface tweak.

Of course, this alone isn’t such a big problem. Undoubtedly, it’s annoying and stupid. However, Firefox’s auto-update does a good job at making the update process hassle free. Add-on compatibility was another issue that I was worried about. However, Mozilla seems to be doing something right in this area. All the add-ons I used were compatible with Firefox 6 at launch. At the time of writing, 99% of the top extensions, which constitute 95% of the total extension usage, are compatible with Firefox 6.

Unfortunately, there is one issue that Mozilla doesn’t seem to have a solution for. The rapid fire update policy means that every year we will be witnessing eight to nine major version trunks of Mozilla. However, Mozilla isn’t willing to support the older version trunks. If you are on version 4, which was released just a few months back, then tough luck. Mozilla won’t be providing any further updates to the 4.x trunk. Updating to newer versions might not be a big issue for home users, but it is a major undertaking for enterprises. Each major update has to be tested for regressions and other issues before it can be deployed. Mozilla’s reluctance to support older trunks mean that enterprises stand the risk of being left vulnerable to serious security vulnerabilities over extended periods.

Enterprises are notorious for their reluctance to switch to newer and better browsers. It’s only recently that some of them have begun to opt for Firefox. However, with the new rapid release cycle, Mozilla will almost certain succeed in making all of them revert to Microsoft Internet Explorer, since Google Chrome also follows the same quick-fire release cycle and Opera has too many website compatibility problems (often due to factors out of its control) to be considered seriously. In contrast to Mozilla, Microsoft will be supporting Internet Explorer 9 till January 2020.

Google Toolbar Works in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 – Here Is How To Enable It

A few weeks ago, Google said that they would be discontinuing Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and will only continue supporting . However, in spite of that, the Google Toolbar continues to work in Firefox 5 and .

Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and Firefox 6

I have been using the Google Toolbar in 5 and Firefox 6 for a few months now without issues, however, it does come with a caveat. Since Google has officially said that support for Google Toolbar is only available through Firefox 4, Firefox automatically disables the on Firefox 5 and Firefox 5.

Also Read: Firefox 5 Review | Firefox 6 Review

In order to enable the Google Toolbar in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 you will first have to install the Add-on compatibility reporter extension in Firefox and restart the browser.

Change Google Toolbar Compatibility Firefox 5 & Firefox 6

Once you have done that head over to the “Add-ons” and you will be able to run Google Toolbar in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6. Firefox will still report that the add-on is incompatible with the newer versions, however, you can continue using it without issues. If you need more help with this read our earlier guide on How To Run Older Add-ons in Firefox.

Firefox 6 Released with Very Few Changes

Firefox 6 is not officially scheduled to ship until tomorrow, however the final build for all the platforms are now available for download from the official FTP channels. Much like the previous release, the changelog for Fx 6 is quite flimsy, and the new build doesn’t feature any major new user facing feature. This is of course the side-effect of following a rapid release cycle. While it makes it easier for Mozilla to stick to the schedule, it also makes version numbers insignificant and immaterial. GHacks reported yesterday that Mozilla is planning on hiding the version number from normal users by removing it from the About’ box. Of course, that would be an incredibly lame and stupid way to tackle the issue. The sensible thing for Mozilla would be to label these releases as minor version updates, and have one or two scheduled major updates per year that will actually deliver new features. Anyway, there is no point in blaming Mozilla alone. Google is the one who started this madness with their Chrome release cycle.

Firefox-6

Coming back to Firefox 6, the most significant change is that the address bar now highlights the domain of the website you are currently browsing. The site identity blocker has also received a minor facelift to make it sleeker than before. There are also a few behind the scenes improvements such as support for WebSockets, improved Scratchpad, a new Web Developer menu item, an improved Web Console, and reduced browser startup time when using Panaroma.

There are as many as 1,300 changes in Firefox 6. However, almost all of them are bug fixes. When it comes to delivering new features, Firefox disappoints once again. If you have used Firefox 5, or even Firefox 4, you already know what to expect. If you liked either of those two releases, you will like Firefox 6. If you didn’t, then Firefox 6 will not change your opinion.

[ Download Firefox 6 for Windows | Mac | Linux ]

Apple’s Safari Grows To 8% Browser Share

According to a new report from Net Applications’s NetMarketShare data, Safari has exceeded 8 percent of web browser use across all devices due to the strong growth in iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad sales. Also, Apple’s WebKit, the second most widely used rendering engine, combined with Google Chrome makes it second to Internet Explorer and slightly ahead of Firefox.

Net Apps Browser Data

In addition, the data shows that in the last two years, Internet Explorer’s marketshare has dropped from nearly 67 percent to 52.8 percent. Firefox has also seen a decrease in marketshare from almost 23 percent to 21.48 percent. However, Google’s Chrome has seen massive increase in marketshare. Chrome’s marketshare increased from 2.84 percent to 13.45 percent, while Safari’s nearly doubled from 4.07 percent to 8.05 percent.

Safari and Chrome’s marketshare combined now represent over 21.5 percent of web users, making it slightly ahead of Firefox even before counting the small number of WebKit browsers.

Clearly Safari’s growth isn’t going to stop here. Apple’s development of not just a desktop browser but also converting the desktop version of their browser to the first “fully usable” mobile version browser has not only tremendously changed the web browser market but also has affected the web-related development market as well.

Internet Explorer Popular Among People with Low IQ, Study Suggests

Aptiquant, a Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company, which specializes in helping organizations objectively assess applicants and employees, has released the results of its study in which it correlated the IQ (Intelligent Quotients) of users with the browser they were using. The results aren’t all that surprising.

On an average, Internet Explorer users were found to have the least IQ, while Opera users had the highest. Camino users and Internet Explorer users with Chrome Frame plugin were also found to have higher than average IQ. The results are pretty much what you would expect. The dominance of Internet Explorer has long been attributed to its bundling with Windows. A sizeable portion of users tend to just use what Windows ships with instead of looking for alternatives. Heck, many people don’t even know what is a web browser. On the other hand Opera, which has remained the niche browser, is often dubbed as the browser for geeks and power users.

Browser-User-IQ

In order to collect the data Aptiquant relied on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test, which is available on its website. The gender, geographic location, and browser of netizens taking the test were recorded along with their test results. The scores of more than 101,326 individuals were analyzed.

Aptiquant also compared their recent dataset with the data they had collected in 2006. The older dataset paints a significantly different picture. The mean IQ of Opera users drops significantly, and Internet Explorer (6 and 7) gets a significant boost. Clearly, over the last five years, Internet Explorer has lost its share of intelligent users, as power users have migrated elsewhere.

Aptiquant also divided the users into IQ groups based on their percentile ranks. Once again, Internet Explorer users dominated the lower percentile groups, while Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari users dominated the higher percentile groups.

Aptiquant’s study reinforces that stereotype that Internet Explorer is a dumb user’s browser. It also demonstrates that Microsoft has simply not been able to stay abreast with its competitors. Even though Internet Explorer 7 and 8 users have a higher IQ score than Internet Explorer 6 users, Microsoft has failed to stop the flow of power users to third-party alternatives. Internet Explorer still has a healthy market share. However, masses often follow the early adopters and power users. Microsoft will need to come up with something pretty brilliant if it hopes to reverse Internet Explorer’s fortunes.

Hat tip: @Opera

Google Chrome the Most Used Browser on Techie Buzz

There is something about which I have not seen in any other browser. It is one of the fastest growing browsers across the world and currently has around 20% usage world wide.

Google Chrome Market Share Techie Buzz

Many tech related websites around the world are seeing that Google Chrome has been overtaking . Last year both TechCrunch and Techmeme reported that Chrome was the most users on their site which prompted me to write the article; Why is Chrome Winning and Firefox Losing Market Share?. Back then, Chrome’s market share was around 10% was constantly growing on our site too.

Recently, I wrote an article on How Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla. In that article, I delved upon how Chrome has been dominating Indian markets even though the internet usage there is around 15% of the population. This definitely showed how much impact Chrome has had on the browser market.

Google Chrome Market Share Graph Techie Buzz

Today when I was checking the browser market share for Techie Buzz I saw that Chrome has overtaken Firefox as the most used browser. Last month, Chrome was behind Firefox by 2%, so the month over month growth is pretty impressive. This means that almost 1+ million out of the 3.5+ million users on the site were using Google Chrome to visit Techie Buzz.

One of the reasons for Google Chrome’s growth is the heavy advertising Google is doing for it. I see many ads which pitch users to play Angry Birds on Google Chrome and I can swear that those have converted many users to switch to Chrome including my own brother who is a big fan.

Google is also landing some punches on rival browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer by stopping development on certain products while providing plugins for them too. Recently, Google has decided to stop development of Google Toolbar for Firefox 5. This has sent Mozilla in a frenzy because lot of users are not upgrading to Firefox 5 from because of the incompatibility of the .

Google also provides Internet Explorer users with something called as Google Chrome Frame to bring Google Chrome’s technology to Internet Explorer. As you can see from our browser stats, we have around 0.13% IE users who have installed the Google Chrome Frame.

Additionally, Google has also been blocking several features in their products on . Our in-house Opera guru Pallab has always been finding problems using Google’s features on Opera including the recently introduced .

So is Google intentionally doing all these things to switch users to their own browser? It could very well be possible, however, they are also backing that up with an excellent browser and I for one have been using Google Chrome as my primary browser since it launched and yes some of the new features in it including the Multiple Chrome Profiles are definitely good.

What do you think about Chrome’s dominance? Is it good or bad? Do you use Google Chrome as your primary browser? If not which one do you prefer to use? Please let me know through your comments.

Google Toolbar For Firefox 5 and Future Versions Will Be Discontinued

After a surge of updates on Google Plus, it looks like Google wants to do a little housecleaning.

Yesterday, Google announced that they are ending support for Labs because the company wants to focus their resources and efforts on existing products. Now Google has announced that they are ending support for Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and future versions.

Google says

For Firefox users, many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browser. Therefore, while Google Toolbar for Firefox works on versions up to and including Firefox 4 only, it will not be supported on Firefox 5 and future versions.

google-toolbar-firefox-discontinuedI am not a power Google toolbar user and I uninstall it right away, whenever I see one. But there are a lot of people who regularly use the Google Toolbar in Firefox, because the toolbar provides handy shortcuts to Google services and provides easier sharing options. Google says that many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox, are already built right into the browser.

I beg to differ. Here is why:

1. There is no way to know the toolbar PR of a webpage in Firefox, unless you have Google Toolbar installed. I know there are a dozen SEO add-ons and third party sites for knowing the PageRank, but remember that none of them come shipped from the Google factory.

2. There is no way to perform a site specific search in Firefox, unless you know the site:domain.com operator.

3. The sharing options in Google Toolbar are super easy to use and supports almost any social networking site on earth. I agree there are a lot of Firefox add-ons for social sharing but they are not complete and are speed and performance hogs.

Other Toolbar features such as Gmail notifications, page translations and auto fill options are also close to dead. Firefox users who previously enjoyed using Google Toolbar, have to use a different add-on for each of them.

Being a Google Chrome user, I am a bit surprised on Google’s decision to phase out Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and future versions. How are they going to track user behavior, site speed and other usability tests for Firefox users? Being a data driven company, why do they no longer want the data? A major portion of the Internet population still uses Firefox, I hope Google is well aware of that.

Or is it Let’s push the market share of Chrome by killing our features on competing products?

Update:  Workaround to Run Google Toolbar in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6