Tag Archives: Firefox

Firefox “Do Not Track” Feature Punches Advertisers in the Gut

Firefox launched a do not track feature earlier in January. This feature allowed users to opt out of tracking of user behavior.

Advertisers used the tracked data to display relevant ads, based on browsing data. The feature was received quite well, though Mozilla admitted that the feature was far from perfect and it further required the tracking company to agree not to get involved in tracking the user once he/she opted out. In short, the feature was more of an agreement between the user and the tracking company, an agreement that was never going to happen.

firefox-logo

Advertisers depend on the user’s browsing data for ad-relevance, and this feature can kill the current business model of advertisements. However, Mozilla CEO  Gary Kovacs says,

It gives the user the opportunity to put their hand up and say, ‘Don’t track me. If our 450 million [users] put up their hands, someone’s going to listen: governments are going to listen, policy makers are going to listen, ad networks are going to listen.

Further, Kovacs justifies his view by saying,

We just want the user to know, and then choose. When I go to Netflix, I want a recommendation–I want it to track me.

However, what he says not is that Netflix is a service he is actively willing to use persistently, which is not the same with ads.

Firefox 4 Release Date Confirmed for March 22

RC has been out for a few days now and the new UI looks pretty good. Also, there aren’t any important bugs in the Release Candidate. Yesterday, Internet Explorer 9 was also released to the public. So when will Firefox 4 be available?

firefox_4

According to a Mozilla posting on Google Groups, 4 will be made available to general public on March 22 or thereof. The date has been confirmed by both the IT and marketing team at Mozilla.

All,

Firefox 4 RC1 has received a very warm welcome; it’s time to make a decision to ship.  As of now, there are no known issues that would stop us from shipping RC1 as final.  At the conclusion of our regular 11:30AM triage session on Wednesday, March 16th, release drivers will decide whether to ship RC1 as Firefox 4.

March 22nd is the day we would ship.  Both IT and Marketing have indicated that March 22nd is an acceptable final launch date.  If at any time we discover issues that would block final release, we would issue an RC2 as soon as possible, reset the ship date, and communicate to everyone.

All my best,

Damon

The Firefox 4 RC1 will be frozen and released as the final version of Firefox 4, so users who are already using the RC will not see any changes. This is definitely good news for Mozilla, because Firefox 4 has been delayed numerous times and the competition has heated up with the launch of Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome 10 and Opera 11

Download Internet Explorer 9 Final

Microsoft has just made the final release of Internet Explorer 9 available for download. The beta of IE 9 has been downloaded over 40 million times already. The final version was supposed to launch on March 14, at 9 am PM PST, and it has.

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer has been one of the most abused browsers of all time, especially IE 6. With IE 9, Microsoft has promised to make good with web developers and has embraced most open web standards.

Internet Explorer 8 was quite well received, and even though I use Opera as my primary browser, I still use IE 8 for sites which just don’t work with Opera. I will now be upgrading that with Internet Explorer 9.

To download Internet Explorer 9, just go to this link – Internet Explorer 9 Download

Select the version of IE9 (32-bit or 64-bit) and click on Download Now.

IE 9 offers a much better browsing experience than previous versions, and is also much faster. Here’s a list of the new features IE 9 brings to the table.

Update: Here are some direct download links (Courtesy Win Rumors)

Firefox 4 RC Review

Update: Some sections of this article have been modified from their original form

The Release Candidate for Firefox 4 has been out for a few days now and I decided to put it through the paces. Though there wouldn’t me much to write about since my Firefox 4 Beta review, there are definitely some speed tests and other things I have done to compare it with other offerings available today.

UI Changes

As I had mentioned in my beta review, the user interface for 4 is completely different from earlier versions. It is similar to what other browser look like including Internet Explorer 9, and .

Firefox 4 User Interface

This is definitely good because users will have a unified experience across multiple browsers. Firefox 4 has combined all the menu items into a single menu item. However, individual menu items are available when you press the Alt key.

Firefox 4 though hasn’t gotten rid of the search box and continues to use it for dedicated searches. However, you can still use the address bar to perform searches.

More New Features

Other than these, Firefox 4 also has a new tab manager which allows you to manage open tabs. A new add-on manager, a new feature where you can search the address bar and switch to an open tab and more integration. I had covered all of these in my earlier Firefox 4 review so I would not want to repeat them again.

Firefox 4 RC Benchmark – How it Stacks Up?

Coming to my favorite part in this review, I ran a couple of benchmarks on Firefox 4 RC to understand how it stacked up against the several other browsers I use. These benchmarks were run on a hot instance of all the included browsers (the browsers were already open once before running the tests).

benchmark_browsers

Sadly, the tests did not backup Firefox 4 here. Firefox 4 was rated the second lowest in the Peacemaker tests after Safari of course. Way below Internet Explorer 9. By the way that Safari 4.0.4 is actually Google Chrome 12, somehow it identifies it wrong. I have made sure to make it apparent in the test results image too.

The winner of course was Opera 11.10 which is still in alpha stage and Google Chrome 12 which will be released soon. It goes to show where Mozilla’s efforts are.

Firefox 4 Acid Tests

Firefox 3 RC fared worse in their Acid3 tests than the beta versions. This was not unexpected, but I have hardly seen any browser go higher that this.

Of course, Firefox 4 might have higher ratings elsewhere, but this is definitely not something I would want to see Firefox 4 in the ratings. Alas, we can’t get everything we want can we?

Summarizing

Firefox 4 is a huge leap for Mozilla, it makes a lot of UI changes which will be unacceptable to many users so you can expect a lot of backlash when this goes live However, it is a move in the right direction and will pay off in the end.

However, there are quite a few things which lack in Firefox 4 and were supposed to be in Firefox 3.5. Do feel free to talk about your thoughts out here, in fact I would be very appreciative if you could share your benchmarks of different browsers too.

Redundant Section

This part of the article is redundant and it might have been a bug in my profile, please disregard it. You can click here to see this section.

Mozilla Moves to a New Release-system For Firefox, Features Now Coming with Updates

Mozilla has a tough year ahead of it. The Firefox roadmap boasts of gamechanging updates and it will be a pleasure to see them come through. However, people are apprehensive about the roadmap, since it claims four major versions in a year which is so unlike Mozilla. Though, recent updates have outlined how Firefox will achieve this feat.

firefox-4-logo

For those not familiar with the context, you can check this coverage for Mozilla’s plan of releasing version 4, 5, 6 and 7, all by the end of this year.

Following Google’s announcement of releasing new features as and when they are ready, Mozilla has decided to put Firefox through the same process. The addition of features will be made irrespective of versions and this eliminates the need for all the hoopla around major version releases. The new system will be put in place only after the release of Firefox 4. That makes Firefox 4 the last major release in its true essence.

Jay Sullivan, the VP of Productions at Mozilla responded to pcpro saying,

What we want to do is get the power into users’ hands more quickly. For example, the video tag was shippable in June – we should have shipped it. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for this whole package. Why wouldn’t we ship the video tag when it’s ready? We’re moving on web time now, and we’ve been shipping a little bit on desktop time. It’s not necessary, so we’re undergoing some process changes, and we’ll do smaller bundles more quickly.

The new system, in Sulllivan’s words, is all about “fewer features and more releases, like Chrome“. This can be seen in Firefox 4, which had 12 betas. Mozilla plans to release a new version every three weeks in this new process. What remains to be seen is how many actual features and fixes go into those releases or whether the system is just a  faux pas. Firefox has seen extremely slow development over the last one year and the new system should at least bring some transparency into the development of Firefox, if not pace it up altogether.

If you would like to speculate further, catch some info on the Firefox 5 concept here.

Hooeey Webprint Builds An Offline Archive Of Webpages You Visit In Firefox

Do you need to automatically capture snapshots of webpages you visit, without having to bookmark them manually or having to search them later from the browser’s browsing history ?

Hooeey Webprint, an Adobe air app keeps a closer eye on the pages you visit in Firefox and automatically captures a full page snapshot so that you can quickly find the websites you visited in a given time period.

hooeey-webprint

The best thing regarding Hooeey Webprint is that all the data is stored locally on your computer so that you can quickly view the full page screenshot of earlier visited pages, when no internet connection is available.

This is extremely useful for designers and developers who need a better way to archive screen mockups, design prototypes on which they were working through out the day.

Since the app runs on the Adobe Air platform, the program works with Windows, Linux and MAC computers. Following are some of the nifty features of Hooeey webprint:

Real Time Web Page Capture: Hooeey webprint captures the snapshots automatically in the background. There are no settings to configure and absolutely nothing to tweak. Once the browser extension is in place, the add-on automatically keeps recording the snapshots in the background and archives them for later viewing.

Tagging And Searching: The app contains a useful Search pagesfeature which allows you to filter webpages by keywords and tags. So if you want to filter archived pages from a particular website, simply type the domain name in the search box and hit the Returnkey

webprint-search

Otherwise, you can also use the auto generated tag cloud on the left sidebar, which filters archived pages according to keywords.

Sharing Screenshots: Sharing a particular screenshot is easy, double click the thumbnail to expand it into the full view. Then you can share the screenshot on Twitter, Facebook or open the link in your browser.

There is also a printoption which can be used to print out the complete full page screenshot of a webpage you had previously visited.

share-screenshot

Complete Privacy Control: Worried that your 7 year old kid who knows a thing or two regarding apps can spy on your browsing activities ? Hooeey webprint allows you to password protect your offline archive so that only you can open the local snapshots and no other shared users of the same   computer has access to the local archive.

Custom Blocklists: Sometimes you might want to prevent specific webpages from being recorded e.g search results, Facebook news feed and so on. In those situations, you can define a custom block list of URL’s in the blocklist settingspanel.

This includes private IP’s, custom FTP addresses or secure sites (https).

blocklist-urls

In addition, Hooeey webprint lets you completely export all the data to a custom email address or you can also export all the snapshots, meta tags and full text archive to your local computer.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Hooeey Webprint is very useful when you want an easier way to archive all the webpages for later viewing. The extension is available only for Internet Explorer and Firefox, which seems to be the only downside of the application.

Techie Buzz Verdict: 3.5 (Very Good).

Firefox 5 Concepts Revealed; More Site Specific Features For Apps

Mozilla will be releasing in the next few weeks. 4 sports a complete overhaul from the previous versions and is very similar to . However, Mozilla is now working on the next version Firefox 5 which might be released in late 2011.

Firefox 5 Desktop Apps

CNET got hold of some concept pictures which show the future of the browser. The concept pictures can be seen at http://areweprettyyet.com/5/. One of the main  focus of Firefox 5 will be desktop apps which will contain site specific features in them.

For example, if you use the app, you will see options such as creating a new tweet, checking your direct messages and more. This feature will also be available for other sites like and IMDb.

Techie Buzz IE9 Pinned Tabs

Internet Explorer 9 has a similar feature where they allow websites to define tasks when a website is pinned to the taskbar. It is not  yet known whether the site specific features in Firefox 5 will have their own tasks or rely on websites to define those tasks.

Firefox 5 Search Box

In addition to the site specific features, Firefox 5 will also have a new visual appearance for the search box, where the color of the button would change based on the search engine the user is using. This color could either be specified by the search engines themselves or will be fetched from the favicon of the search engine.

Firefox 5 will also promote the Firefox Sync option to users so that they can sync their passwords, bookmarks and more in the cloud and use it on any mobile device or PC.

Firefox 5 Add-on Manager

Mozilla will also be revamping it’s add-on manager which is used to install and manage in the browser. Firefox 4 introduced a new add-on manager, but it looks like they will be revamping it again in Firefox 5.

These are just some of the key features from Firefox 5 which are available as concepts. It looks like Mozilla will continue building on Firefox 4 and add these new features to it, so the look and feel of Firefox 5 may not be any different than Firefox 4.

So what do you think about the new Firefox 5 concepts? Do you like them? What else would you want to see in Firefox 5? Do share your opinions and views about it.

How To Disable Facebook New Photo Theatre Viewer

recently rolled out a new Photo viewer which provided users with a theatre like view for viewing photo albums. Though the new Theatre view for Facebook works well, it is definitely not liked by everyone.

Facebook Photo Theatre View

So what if you don’t want to view photos using the new Facebook Theatre view? Well, you cannot disable it directly using Facebook but you could use a userscript for and to disable the theatre view in Facebook.

The "Facebook Photo Theater Killer" userscript kills the annoying new photo theater on Facebook and allows you to browse the photos the old way. This script works on Google Chrome and Firefox only for now.

So go ahead and install the script to get rid of the new annoyance created by Facebook. Thanks Binoy.

Update: If you use Google Chrome, you can also use these extensions to disable the new Facebook photo viewer.

Firefox Planning to go on Steroids, Versions 4, 5, 6 and 7 Coming in 2011

After seeing a sluggish development and embarrassing speed improvements over time, Firefox has finally set its biggest overhaul plan ever, this time. This 2011, Firefox is planning to go right from version 3 to 7.

firefox-logo

Image via: ie7
The entire roadmap of Firefox for 2011 has been laid out and it stands as,

  • Ship Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the 2011 calendar year
  • Always respond to a user action within 50 ms
  • Never lose user data or state
  • Build Web Apps, Identity and Social into the Open Web Platform
  • Support new operating systems and hardware
  • Polish the user experience for common interaction tasks
  • Plan and architect for a future of a common platform on which the desktop and mobile products will be built and run Web Apps

The disgustingly slow speed on Firefox has led many users to move to better alternatives like Chrome and Opera. This problem will be resolved with the 50 ms response time.

Apart from this, other features like saving of sessions and states will prevent users from losing important work. With the recent beta of Firefox 4, Android support has also improved drastically.

The sole reason for users to stick to Firefox was the support for add-ons. Now that has been incorporated into both Google Chrome and Opera, Firefox is losing users gradually. In short, users have no reason to stick to Firefox as most other browsers offer what it has to offer. However, what is disturbing, is that users do have a definite reason not to use Firefox anymore, as it is slower than both Chrome and Opera.

The roadmap is only as far as paperwork goes. We expect the developers to follow the roadmap too, and get back a significant number of users Firefox lost to its competitors over time.

Microsoft: Take That Google, We Just Added H.264 Support For Chrome Users

Yesterday would have been a very eventful day at Google and Microsoft after Google accused Microsoft of stealing their search results and displaying it in the competitive search engine Bing. The day was filled with accusations and defense galore and lot of Google-and-Microsoft haters had a really big field day.

Day 2: Microsoft just did something that would irk Google even more, they rolled out a new Windows Media Player plugin for Chrome which supports the H.264 code. In a blog post, Microsoft said that they are rolling out these plugin which is also part of Internet Explorer so that Google Chrome customers on would be able to continue to play the H.264 video in spite of Chrome not supporting it.

Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video.

We believe that Windows customers should be able to play mainstream HTML5 video and, as we’ve described in previous posts, Internet Explorer 9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec.

The announcement could just be a right hand jab from Microsoft on Google’s chin after they had earlier declared to drop support for the H.264 codec in because of lack of openness and could fuel a much more deeper war amongst these two tech giants.

It also gives consumers of Google Chrome a chance to view the videos encoded with H.264 codec which they could not have done otherwise. In a battle of browsers Google Chrome, and have openly said that they would not support the H.264 codec because of royalty issues and would instead rely on the WebM codec, which is still not the best codec out there. Currently, it lacks hardware support and there is still a lot of work to be done with it. Microsoft and Apple on the other hand support the H.264 codec in the Internet Explorer and Safari browsers.

The said plugin is also available for Firefox but the main jabs taken by the article was at Google Chrome which is rapidly gaining more users from both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

So will this war continue to rage along? Will these competitors try to go down the throats of each other in the future too? Well, as per me they will. They will not let go off a chance to bring each other down. The wars had already begun, someone just put more fuel in the fire. What do you think?

Firefox 4 Beta 4 For Android And Maemo Released; Is ‘Faster Than Ever’

It was more than a month ago that Mozilla had released the last update for Firefox 4 for mobile for both Android and Maemo. Until the last beta, Firefox 4 for Android more of a bloat ware than a decent third party browser.

The Mozilla Firefox team listened to all the feedbacks they got from the previous beta release and today, they released a new Beta of the app. The Beta 4 of Firefox for Android is now much, much better than the previous beta versions. The application boot up time has been heavily reduced and so has the page-load times. The Mozilla teams says that their benchmarks shows that this new beta of Firefox Mobile is faster than the stock Android browser in all the benchmarks they concluded.

On my Desire Z running on CM6.1.1 and OC’ed to 900MHz, Firefox Mobile did not seem to load pages faster than the stock Android browser. It was slower than the stock Android browser but not by a huge margin. Firefox Mobile was also not able to render some sites properly unlike the stock Android browser.

snap20110202_135940 snap20110202_140053

snap20110202_140246

Performance wise, the stock Android browser is still way faster and smoother than Firefox 4. For me, the UI response and the overall speed of the Firefox 4 needs some improvements before it can replace the stock Android browser.

The APK of Firefox 4 is a whopping 13.5MB and after installation the app footprint increases to 30MB! This won’t go down well with people who are using Android phones with low internal memory. Thankfully, the app can be moved to SD card. One big advantage of Firefox 4 over the stock Android browser is the support for plug-ins. Right now, the Mobile Add-ons gallery for Firefox 4 features more than 100 useful plug-ins.

Hopefully, with the next beta of Firefox for Mobile most of these issues would be solved. Looks like we Android users will soon have a decent alternative to the stock Android browser.

Android owners can download Firefox 4 for Mobile from the Android Market.

Firefox and Chrome Browsers to Offer “Do Not Track” Options

Is it broke? Does it need Fixed?

Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a consumer privacy report. The commission is apparently concerned about advertising and tracking cookies, which many consider to be intrusive, but not dangerous. Tracking allows advertisers to target users with custom or localized advertisements. In hopes of fixing this issue, the report suggested that web browser makers should add a Do Not Trackmechanism.

It’s not surprising that the FTC would suggest something like this. Government bureaucrats are always offering suggestions on how free market economies should be fixed, even when they aren’t broken. However, it is surprising that only a few weeks later, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome developers have already announced that they’ll be offering Do Not Trackin future versions of their browsers.

cookie_iconpac-man-gobble firefox-logo chrome-logo ftc-logo

Firefox Support

Alex Fowler, at Mozilla, announced support for Mozilla’s Do Not Track at his blog the other day. He said, we’re seeking ways to provide Firefox users a deeper understanding of and control over the flow of personal information online. We’re pleased to be able to share one of these efforts today ….

When a web browser visits a web site, the site asks the web browser for some basic information before displaying the page. This information is transmitted in the HTTP header, and the new DNT (Do Not Track) warning will be added to this header. Once this warning is received by a web site, it’s up to them to decide whether or not to attempt to read and place tracking cookies in the browser’s cookie cache.

mozilla-dnt-diagram3

This feature isn’t available yet, however, you can get an addon with the DNT header. Here are some frequently asked questions about DNT at Mozilla.

Chrome Support

Two days ago, the Google Public Policy blog posted an article telling us how they are handling the FTC request for a Do Not Trackfeature in Chrome. They said, Today we are building on this work, and that of others, by allowing you to permanently opt out of ad tracking from all companies that offer opt-outs through the industry self-regulation programs.

The Keep My Opt-Outs extension takes advantage of already existing opt-out programs offered by the Network Advertising   Initiative, which includes 50 different web tracking services. Later, an option will be added to the Chrome browser, with no need for an extension.

nai-logo

Conclusions

hangman-logoAs usual, a Government agency is looking for problems to fix so they’ll be able to brag that they are useful sometimes. Nobody’s going to dispute their suggestions in this case, and paranoid consumers may actually benefit from this initiative.

It’s not surprising that the browser developers would jump onto the band-wagon. They’ll do anything to avoid provoking government agencies from putting a collar (or noose) around their necks. These browser changes are a cheap solution to a problem that many people didn’t consider as being serious.

Sometimes, an action like this can have unintended consequences. This time, it might be a win for everyone except the advertisers. What effect will these changes have on the web sites which depend on the advertising revenue?

Skype Toolbar Crashes Firefox; Mozilla Blocks It

Looks like several people have been facing frequent crashes with and the team is on the case. The Skype Toolbar for Firefox is an extension that detects phone numbers on webpages and allows you to call them using Skype desktop application.

Skype Logo

The add-on is bundled with Skype desktop and is automatically installed in Firefox. Mozilla has pinpointed that the current version of Skype toolbar is one of the main culprits behind Firefox crashes. For instance, according to data collected by Mozilla (when users send crash reports to them), the Skype toolbar accounted for 40,000 crashes last week.

Additionally, depending on the version of the Skype Toolbar you’re using, the methods it uses to detect and re-render phone numbers can make DOM manipulation up to 300 times slower, which drastically affects the page rendering times of a large percentage of web content served today (plain English: to the user, it appears that Firefox is slow loading web pages). We believe that both of these items constitute a major, user-facing issue, and meet our established criteria for blocklisting an add-on.

Starting today, Mozilla will add the Skype Toolbar to their blacklist and soft block it. With soft blocking they will automatically disable the extension while giving users an option to re-enable it. Mozilla has already blocked several add-ons in the past, some of them include the Bing Bar, Apple QuickTime Plugin, AVG SafeSearch and more. You can view the entire list of blocked add-ons.

Back in 2009, Mozilla had blocked Microsoft .NET and WPF extensions terming them as unsafe for Firefox. Unlike the Skype block, the Microsoft block was hard block, wherein users were not given an option to turn it on. There are only a few extensions which have been hard blocked since then.

There is no official statement or update on this issue from Skype. We will keep you posted when more information becomes available.

Firefox 4 Beta 9 Released, Inching Closer to Release Candidate

Mozilla has released the beta 9 version of , bringing them closer to a release candidate and final version release in February 2011. Mozilla has been working on 4 for quite some time now and the numerous delays have been costing them.

Firefox 4

Mozilla has overhauled the bookmarks and history code in Firefox 4 enabling for faster bookmarking and startup performance. They have also improved performance for complex animations. Firefox 4 also has the JaegerMonkey engine for JavaScript which is supposedly very fast. Firefox 4 Beta 9 also uses hardware acceleration on and using Direct X.

Mozilla has also added support for 7 new languages for Firefox 4 taking the total supported languages to 76. To view the complete list of changes visit this page. You can download Firefox 4 Beta 9 from here or visit this post to learn what has changed in this beta.

Firefox has been losing market share in the past few months because is stealing their thunder. However, the good news for Mozilla is that Firefox just became the most used browser in European countries.  Hopefully the release of Firefox 4 might turn things around for Mozilla.

(h/t arpitnext)

Firefox On Top in Europe; Thanks To Google Chrome And European Union

Earlier today, Clif wrote on how Chrome and Safari are stealing users from IE globally, however, here comes more bad news for Internet Explorer. According to stats released by website tracking firm Stat Counter, has overtaken Internet Explorer as the most used browser in European countries.

Europe Browser Stats

According to Stat Counter, Firefox now has 38.11% share in the European market as compared to IE’s 37.52%. However, here’s the catch. Firefox is not gaining users from Internet Explorer, instead is the one that is making dents into their market share. According to the Stat Counter CEO, Firefox has more or less been stable, whereas IE has been the one losing market share.

Google Chrome has about 14.8% market share as compared to 5.06% in December last year. That itself is a huge gain. Firefox on the other hand have lost market share since last year.

In addition to Google Chrome, this feat can also be credited to the new browser ballot system for browsers that was enforced on all new Windows PCs by law of the European Union.

However, IE is still one of the top browsers in North America, but that crown could soon be placed on top of Firefox’s head too. Google Chrome is by far one of the best browsers available today. However, with around the corner and the new 11 browser it will be very hard for Internet Explorer to overcome the competition.

My prediction is that Google Chrome will own around 25-35% market share by end of 2011 and Opera should end up with 5-7% while Firefox remains stable or sheds some more users.