RIM Releases Another Blackberry Playbook Video Showcasing Flash and HTML 5 Capabilities

RIM has released yet another video of their tablet, the Blackberry Playbook. It has been launched right before CES 2011 starts, before all the Blackberry Playbook buzz is drowned out by the slew of tablet launches.

Blackberry Playbook

It showcases the Blackberry web browser which has both Flash and HTML 5 video capabilities. They have also demonstrated how well Flash works on the Playbook, using Flash games on Facebook.

It is way better than the iPad, atleast as far as Flash content is concerned. The web browser seems great and is very fast and responsive.

Check out the Blackberry Playbook Web Fidelity video here.

via Blackberry Blog

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.

Opera Software Set to Showcase New Tablet Browser at CES 2011

OperaLast year, Opera Software gained attention at the CES by demoing the breezy Opera Mini for iPhone, which went on to become the first non-webkit based alternate browser for the iPhone. This year, the browser maker will be demoing its new browser tailor-made for Android based tablets and netbooks.

In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. Opera is creating waves with the first public preview of Opera for tablets,said Christen Krogh, Chief Development Officer, Opera Software. Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.

Opera for tablets will be based on the yet to be unveiled Opera Mobile 10.5. As you can see in video embedded below, the user interface has been tweaked for bigger screens. Nevertheless, according to Haavard K. Moen, Opera for tablet will be supporting a wide range of form factors, and should be able to adapt itself to both small and large screen sizes. Little else is known about Opera for Tablet. However it will support flash, and should come with all the standard features of Opera Mobile like Opera Turbo, Opera Link (synchronization), speed dials, password manager and kinetic scrolling.

Chrome and Safari Steal Users from Internet Explorer

Based on the 2010 reports from Netmarketshare.com, the web browsers from Google and Apple have slowly been stealing users from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. In the chart below, we can see the trends over the last year. (chart by CNET)

This may be partly due to the new browser ballot in Windows 7 that is required in Europe. However, even if that’s true, Microsoft still has no excuse for it’s falling browser marketshare. When the beta version of IE9 was released in February, no affect was seen on the marketshare. We’ll have to wait to see what happens when the finished version is released.

The gains by Chrome and Safari came at the expense of Internet Explorer‘s dropping percentage, which ended the year at 57%, after starting above 60%. Google’s Chrome browser gained almost 5 points in 2010 and ended with 10% of the market. Safari gained about 1.5 points and ended at about 6%. Firefox and Opera remained about the same at 23% and 2%.

The question that we think most interesting is What browsers do Techie Buzz readers use?. Here’s a chart from Keith showing our data.

The Techie Buzz chart shows more readers using Firefox than Internet Explorer. Chrome users are in third place, followed by Safari and Opera. If we can assume that most technology sites have similar stats, this doesn’t look good for Microsoft.

It appears that the more people know, the less they use Internet Explorer. Many people feel that the crucial advantage to using Firefox and Chrome is that they are more easily customized by using Addons and Extensions. Do you think Opera’s adoption of extensions will help them steal share from Microsoft?


Opera’s Co-Founder on Extensions, Competition, Web TVs and More

2010 has been a great year for Opera Software. Earlier in the year, we saw Opera Mini for iPhone dominating the App Store charts soon after its release. Opera also expanded to the Android platform and launched Opera Mini followed by Opera Mobile in the Market. On the desktop front, Opera kicked off the year with the launch of Opera 10.5 and finished it off with Opera 11.

Opera Software was formally founded in 1995 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy. After nearly 15 years at the helm, Tetzchner stepped down as the CEO of the company earlier this year. Recently, Tetzchner was in India to meet with the fans. During his visit, he was kind enough to answer my questions in an email interview.

Interview-Jon-Tetzchner

Me: While I am absolutely thrilled with extensions for Opera 11, I have to ask: What took Opera so long? Did Chrome’s success influence Opera’s decision to implement extensions in anyway?

JVT: When it comes to extensions we believe as a company that it is important to ensure that the browser that you get out of the box is rich and has a lot of functionality. With focus on web based extensions we feel that there is a closer match with our focus on standards, and we felt the time was right to launch extensions with Opera 11. We have also focused on features such as widgets and unite – which allow developers to develop on the outside of the browser, which we have found to be important for sustainability of the web as we know it.

Me: Are you using any extension? If yes, what is your favorite extension?

JVT: Personally I am not using a lot of extensions, I have tried a number of them but for the most part I feel my needs are covered with all the other functionalities that Opera has to offer.

It has to be said that extensions are about the long tail that people need.

Me: In spite of being (arguably) the most innovative browser, Opera has had little success in expanding its desktop marketshare. Currently about fifty million people browse using Opera on their computer and this number has remained stagnant for a while. In fact, the Q3 2010 report suggests that Opera lost some users during this year. Why do you think that Opera is struggling to get a significant number of new users?

JVT: Opera during the last few years has had a significant growth in number of users. We now have over 150 million users worldwide across our desktop and mobile browsers. The growth in past one year is very promising and we hope to continue this trend by coming-up with innovative features and products.

Me: If you were asked to use any browser other than Opera for 24 hours, which browser would you pick and why?

JVT: There can only be one browser for me i.e. the Opera browser

Jon-Tetzchner Me: Do you subscribe to the notion that in the future the browser will make operating systems irrelevant?

JVT: I would not say irrelevant the operating system continues to be important.

I always ask a question during my talks how many native applications are you using on your PC?. The fact that typically 5% or less are using 5 applications or more indicates that already the browser is the most important tool on your computer and most of the time is spent in the browser. We are seeing that the browser has become the most important aspect of the computing experience.

Me: Earlier in the year, the browser ballot screen went live in Europe. After nine months, have you noticed appreciable changes in the browser usage patterns in Europe?

JVT: Clearly what we have seen is a continuous fall in the number of Internet Explorer users and users have increased for competing browsers including Opera.

Me: One of the things Opera complained about is Microsoft’s reluctance to support web standards. What is your impression of Internet Explorer 9? Do you think Microsoft has made amends?

JVT: We are seeing Microsoft working hard on improving their standards support and we applaud that. They are still trailing the competition but are moving in the right direction.

Me: In 2004, Opera extracted a settlement out of Microsoft for deliberately crippling MSN on Opera. Unfortunately, the practice persists till date with the big three (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) often using browser sniffing to offer an inferior version of their products to Opera users. Why do you think this is the case?

JVT: First thing on the settlement there was no settlement. Microsoft fixed their site. This is where we had the Bork edition of Opera and we got them to fix their site.

I think browser sniffing is a bad thing in general. But we are also seeing that more of the sites are focusing on web standards and that will continue.

Me: Your vision of One Webhas won. WAP is dead, and mobile web usage is exploding. What’s next for mobile web?

JVT: Exploding some more.

I think in many ways there are so many people who do not have Internet access today. There are two billion people with internet access and there are one and half billion phones. The trend that we will see is that mobile users will most likely outnumber PC users in a year’s time. This will have a significant impact on the web as we know it and a very positive one.

Going ahead, please look out for Televisions, Set top boxes, cars and other devices getting online as well.

Me: The Register claimed that Opera holds the web’s most valuable secretthanks to its massive data cache (due to the combination of Opera Mini and Opera Turbo). Is Opera looking at ways to monetize this information?

JVT: We value our customer’s privacy extremely. So overstepping any kind of boundaries there is out of question.

We are clearly looking at ways where we can help enable relevant advertisement on the mobile through our purchase of AdMarvel. We announced the Open Mobile Ad Exchange and as part of that we can target people. But we don’t want to target anywhere not close to comfort. Typically the kind of targeting will be based on device type and location on a very broad scale.

Me: What is the Opera BreamUI mentioned during Capital Markets Day?

JVT: If you look at the different Opera versions on different phones you will see a lot of similarities. It’s because the user interface is written in the Bream language, allowing us very quickly to deploy Opera on new platforms.

This allows us to spend more time on making a great user experience and less time on actually develop specifically for one platform.

Me: Opera also has some interesting offerings for connected TVs. How is it different from the new Google TV? How has the reception been from the device manufacturers?

JVT: The response has been great. We have been signing up a lot of device manufacturers including brand names such a Philips, Toshiba, Lowe, etc. We are also working closely with the operators and are seeing significant increase in deployments. We believe that in the next few years internet technologies on television will become a big hit.

Me: Earlier in the year, you stepped down as the CEO of Opera. What prompted the change? As a co-founder what are your current responsibilities within the company?

JVT: I have run Opera for 15 years. I think it is important that for a great company you have to be able to handle change. Personally I wanted to focus more on the tasks that I like and slightly less on the tasks that I like less. So I decided that I wanted to have Lars, whom I trust, to take over the role as CEO.

Me: Soon after Lars Boilesen stepped in, Opera India was practically shut down, and the entire engineering department was axed. Even more surprisingly, the entire thing happened in a secretive manner without a public announcement. What went wrong?

JVT: The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one.
At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a faraway office as it requires quite a lot of resources. The assessment from the team was that they wanted to reduce the complexity of operations that arrive from having multiple offices and they moved the work to development centers closer to Oslo.

Obviously it was not an easy decision to make.

Me: Were any other Opera Software offices downsized/closed?

JVT: The company is continuing to grow. For the India office, rationale was about moving this operation to Poland to reduce the complexity.
When it comes to others the rationale was that we are doing more standardized products and less custom work.

Me: What is your perception of India with respect to its engineering talent pool?

JVT: India certainly is a great resource of engineering talent. We have a number of Indians working in our global offices handling important portfolios.

Me: Opera Software is more than 15 years old. Looking back, is there anything that you wish you/Opera Software had done differently?

JVT: There are always choices. But I think it is important to not dwell on hindsight but still try to use the learning’s from the past while moving forward. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. All the choices we made that in hindsight we wished we had done differently try to rather use that as a positive impulse for moving forward.

Me: What does the coming year hold for Opera?

JVT: The goal for Opera has to be to continue the great growth that we have been seeing all around during the last couple of years. We have tripled our overall user base combining desktop, mini and mobile. In the beginning of 2009 we were 50 mn users and now we are 150 mn active users. So it is a significant growth, a growth that I believe is important to continue to have and even increase. To do this we need to focus on the end users, providing them with better user experience.

Focusing on improving the product for end users on different devices in different markets.

[Hat-tip to Choose Opera for the lovely Techie Jon image.]

Mozilla Slips Up, Publishes User IDs and Encrypted Passwords

Mozilla-Password-Breach Close on the heels of the Gawker Media security breach, Mozilla has disclosed that it had accidentally published a partial database of addons.mozilla.org user account information. As many as 44,000 user ids and password hashes were left publicly accessible.

The affected accounts were inactive ones, which were using md5-based password hashes. MD5 is a weak encryption technique that is crackable. Security firm Sophos explained:

MD5 has cryptographic weaknesses that permit creation of the same hash from multiple strings. This permits security experts to compute all the possible hashes and determine either your password or another string that will work even if it is not your password.

Active accounts on Mozilla’s add-on repository use SHA-512 password hash with salting that offers stronger protection.

The good news is that almost no one noticed. According to Mozilla, the database was accessed by only one person outside of the company. That person is the security researcher who alerted Mozilla about the issue under the Web bounty program, which offers $500 to $3,000 in cash rewards for valid security related bug reports. Nevertheless, Mozilla has deleted the password of all the affected accounts as a precautionary measure.

Internet Explorer Critical Security Flaw – Early Present for Microsoft

malwareHave you opened all of your Christmas presents yet? Microsoft’s biggest present was a huge security headache that hit them just before Christmas. On December 22nd, Microsoft was forced to warn everyone that Windows users are now vulnerable to a flaw in all versions of Internet Explorer. This flaw, known to take advantage of specially formatted CSS (web page code), doesn’t have an easy fix.

metaploit-logoSo far, nobody has detected hackers using an exploit based on this zero-day CSS flaw. However, an exploit has been published and even included in the Metasploit security defense suite. That means that it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft’s problem becomes a problem for all users of Internet Explorer. Microsoft has promised that they are working in a fix for this flaw. Will it get here in time to save us from thousands of hacked home computers?

Here’s my suggestion to all of those using   Internet Explorer:

Download and install a different web browser such as Firefox, Chrome or Opera. Only use Internet Explorer if it’s absolutely needed. Once you’ve done that, you can patiently wait on Microsoft to fix this problem.

Affected Operating Systems: Windows XP, Vista, 7

Affected Browsers: IE6, 7, 8, 9

Opera 11 Downloaded 6.7 Million Times on the First Day

Opera Opera has always been known for its innovation. Unfortunately, in spite of consistently delivering a fast, secure, and stable browser, Opera has always been the little guy in the browser wars. As far as desktop browsers are concerned, Opera is currently handsomely behind Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari in terms of market share. However, things are looking up for Opera.

Recently, it crossed 50 million active users, and now Opera 11 has been downloaded more than 6.7 million times within first twenty four hours of its release. This is a significant improvement over the 1.7 million downloads per day in the first week for Opera 10.10, and a huge improvement over the 1 million downloads in four days after the release of Opera 8.

According to a survey conducted on new users, 53% were coming from Firefox, while 43% were coming from Internet Explorer.

Opera 11 Released: Introduces Extensions, Tab Stacking, Address Bar Tweaks and More

After a remarkably short release candidate period, Opera Software has released Opera 11, just in time for Christmas. With Opera 11, the venerable Norwegian browser maker is hoping to leapfrog its competition. Even as Mozilla has been struggling to get Firefox 4 out of the door, Opera 11 has gone from alpha to final release within just 2 months. Opera’s Haavard Moen claims that an improved development process over the past year or so has allowed developers to work on more things simultaneously without compromising stability of the main branch.

Opera 11 is a big release for Opera Software. It’s a significant step-up from the Opera 10.6 trunk and adds some meaty features to the already feature packed browser. Some of the highlights of this release are:

  • Extensions: Opera 11 introduces a new API based on the W3C widget specification. This means that you can easily develop Opera extensions using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Opera’s implementation of extensions is similar to Chrome’s. Some of them work quietly in the background, while others have a user interface that is exposed through a button. There are already close to two hundred extensions in the official extensions gallery. The most popular extensions include an ad blocker, LastPass and a YouTube video downloader.
  • Tab Stacking: Tab clutter is a problem many web-addicts have to deal with. Once you have a couple of dozen or more tabs, the utility of tabbed browsing diminishes greatly as individual tabs become practically indistinguishable. Opera is trying to solve this issue through Tab Stacking. Tab Stacking makes it possible to group tabs by simply dragging and dropping tabs on top of each other. Opera also toyed around with the idea of enabling tab stacking in one of the snapshots. However, it was dropped in subsequent builds due to numerous inconsistencies and annoyances present in the initial implementation. Opera clearly believes that tabbed stacking is the future of browsing, and has promised to refine it further in future releases.
  • Visual Mouse Gestures: Opera is one of the few browsers to ship with inbuilt support for mouse gestures. Mouse gestures is the killer feature you never knew you needed. It allows you to perform actions like open links in new tab, reload, stop and close tabs with a flick of your mouse. Once you get the hang of it, you will find it hard to live without it. However, most users never discover this feature, as the only way to learn about gestures is to study the documentation or go through the Mouse gestures configuration. Opera 11 tries to fix this by introducing a slick user interface that appears on right-clicking on any portion of the page. This mouse gestures interface guides you through the basic gestures.
  • Opera-Visual-Mouse-Gestures

  • Safer and Cleaner Address Bar: Opera has tweaked the address bar to make it easier to spot phishing websites. The primary domain name is highlighted while protocols and parameters are hidden by default. It also prominently displays security information about the website you are browsing.
  • Opera-11-Address-Bar

  • On-demand Plugin Loading: Now, it is possible to have Opera load plugins like Flash and Silverlight only when required. This actually acts as a very nifty flashblock, as flash videos are blocked by default, and can be loaded individually.

Other Changes include

  • New app-tab mode that shrinks and shifts pinned tabs to the left.
  • Inbuilt support for Google Suggest.
  • Improved rendering engine (presto).
  • New Mail panel.
  • New Bookmarks bar.
  • Support for WebSockets (disabled due to security concerns).

Opera-11

You can download Opera 11 for Windows, UNIX and Mac from www.opera.com.

Surf the Web with Chrome and Google Will Donate To Charities on Your Behalf, No Kidding

We have all received those silly email and SMS forwards promising that some rich guy (often Bill Gates) or big corporation (Google, Facebook, Yahoo etc.) will donate towards a noble cause if you just pass the message along to everyone in your contact list. Most of us knew better. However, Google is now actually doing something as unbelievable.

Google-Chrome-Causes

All you have to do is install Google Chrome, install the “Chrome for a Cause” extension, and surf the web. For every tab that you open, Google will donate to one of the five chosen charities. Here’s what your tabs are worth:

  • 10 tabs = 1 tree planted
  • 10 tabs = 1 book published and donated
  • 25 tabs = 1 vaccination treatment provided
  • 100 tabs = 1 square foot of shelter built
  • 200 tabs = 1 person’s clean water for a year

Google-Chrome-for-a-Cause

This is a win-win situation for Chrome users, and might even get a few people to jump ship. This scheme will be valid only from December 15 to 19. So go ahead and make the world a better place with Chrome.