Earlier this week, Mozilla announced a new search agreement with Google that will ensure that Google remains Firefox’s default search provider for at least the next three years. However, Mozilla had declined to share exactly how much Google had agreed to pony up for this privilege. Now, Kara Swisher has managed to learn the juicy details.
Contrary to speculation from so-called pundits and analysts, the renewal of the search partnership got delayed not because of lack of interest from Google, but due to intense competition from Microsoft. Even Yahoo, which also uses Bing’s results, was in the race. As a result of Microsoft’s heightened interest, Google was forced to provide a minimum revenue guarantee of 300 million per year for three years, which is almost a three folds increase from the previous agreement.
Mozilla will continue to have search partnerships with Microsoft Bing, Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo. However, it is the default search engine agreement that yields the maximum benefits for both sides. Opera’s default search agreement with Google will expire at the end of March, 2012. It will be interesting to see how much Opera Software, whose desktop browser is estimated to have less than 10% of Firefox’s market share, will be able to extract from a search deal.
Mozilla has signed a new search agreement with Google that will last for at least three years. Under this multi-year agreement, Google Search will continue to be the default search provider for hundreds of millions of Firefox users around the world,affirmed Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla. This announcement comes three weeks after the existing agreement had lapsed. The delay had prompted many pundits to promptly speculate about the impending demise of Mozilla, which makes up to 84% of its revenue from Google.
Even though Google’s own browser is flourishing, having an agreement with Mozilla is still crucial for it. In case, Google and Mozilla had failed to reach an agreement, Microsoft would have almost surely stepped in and inked a deal for Bing. Mozilla Firefox is still mighty enough to be impossible for Google to ignore. Allowing Bing access to hundreds of millions of additional eyeballs is something that Google would hardly prefer. In fact, Google has search agreements with far smaller browsers like Opera, which has less than 100 million desktop users. Additionally, niche search engines like DuckDuckGo have also begun striking revenue sharing deals with browser manufacturers. While the nitty-gritty of the deal might have caused the delay, Mozilla’s future was never really in jeopardy.
Social Media websites, whose very existence is threatened by SOPA, were amongst the biggest gainers in 2011, suggests a report published by Opera Software. The latest edition of Opera’s monthly State of the Mobile Web report, which is generated using aggregated information obtained from Opera Mini servers, takes a look at the top mobile websites at the end of 2011.
Unsurprisingly, Google Search topped the list, while Facebook held on to its position as runners-up. Wikipedia, Blogger, Spaces, Twitter and YouTube were amongst the gainers this year. Predictably enough, Wapdam, Orkut, Detik and Live vanished from the top 20, while Yahoo fell by a couple of spots. The top ten mobile websites, as reported by Opera are:
youtube.com (up 1)
vkontakte.ru (down 1)
wikipedia.org (up 4)
yahoo.com (down 2)
twitter.com (up 2)
Opera Mini itself experienced a year-on-year growth of 80.6%. It finished November 2011 with 144.6 million users, a 3.3% increase from October. Opera Mini users viewed over 88.5 billion pages, which would have normally generated 13.2 petabytes of traffic. However, thanks to its server side compression algorithm, Opera Mini managed to reduce network traffic to less than 1.5 petabytes.
Most of Opera Mini’s growth came from Latin America and Africa. Asia, where Opera Mini has always been popular, continued to display impressive growth, but North America once again proved to be a tough nut to crack.
Internet Explorer users have proved to be extremely stubborn when it comes to updating their browsers. Internet Explorer 6, which was released more than 10 years ago, still commands 8.3% of the market share. Millions of users have clung on to outdated releases in spite of the fact that many modern websites don’t even work on them. One of the main culprits behind the slow adoption rate of newer versions of Internet Explorer has been the update system.
Google automatically and seamlessly updates Chrome whenever a new version is available. Mozilla Firefox and Opera also does the same. However, updating Internet Explorer requires manual intervention. Now, this is finally going to change.
“With automatic updates enabled through Windows Update, customers can receive IE9 and future versions of Internet Explorer seamlessly without any update fatigueissues”, wrote Ryan Gavin, General Manager of Internet Explorer Business and Marketing.
Going forward, Microsoft will be automatically updating users to the latest version of Internet Explorer for their system. Enterprise users and others who don’t want to be automatically updated can use the Automatic Update Blocker toolkits. Users who have declined previous installations of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update will also not be automatically updated. Browser settings including favorites and search preferences will be retained between updates.
Even this won’t solve the issue completely as Microsoft has refused to support older operating systems in the recent versions of Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 9 ditched Windows XP, while Internet Explorer 10 will drop Vista compatibility. However, it should at the very least help us in getting rid of Internet Explorer 6 and 7. Microsoft plans to begin the Automatic Update procedure with Australia and Brazil in Janurary, and then move on to the rest of the world.
Opera 11.60 or Tunny is now available for download. Tunny is an interim release that is meant to deliver many of the new features that were originally planned for Opera 12 or Wahoo, which got delayed as hardware acceleration is not yet ready for prime time.
The user interface has been refined further. The address bar has been streamlined. As a result, it looks a lot better and simpler, but is also somewhat less useful. The single click bookmark option (“Star button”) that has been a standard feature in most other browsers for quite some time also makes its appearance in Tunny. However, the biggest visible change is in the Mail component. The Mail client, which is used for both reading mails and RSS feeds, now operates by default in a three-column mode and features automatic grouping and pinned messages. Check out our earlier coverage for more on the improved Mail client.
Tunny isn’t a game changer, but brings forth an impressive list of improvements. Opera made a smart call by not letting a single feature hold back numerous other promising enhancements. Wahoo or Opera 12 will still be the release to look out for. However, Tunny provides enough reasons to be a must update for existing Opera users.
Yesterday, I mentioned that Google is in the process of replacing the black navigation bar with a more intuitive and smart Google bar. This new Google bar is being rolled out in a phased manner. Google promised to roll it out to most users by this weekend. However, if you can not wait, there is a very simple hack that can help you in getting your hands on the new Google interface.
The hack works in all browsers that support cookie editing. As far as I know, Opera is the only one to provide this feature out of the box. Here are the steps Opera users need to follow to edit cookies.
Open www.google.com (or any other Google property).
Right click on any empty spot in the page and select Edit Site Preferences.
Navigate to the Cookies tab.
Opera users also need to perform the additional task of masking browser agent as Firefox (from the Network tab), since Google unfairly blocks Opera from having access to the new navigation bar.
Cookie Name: NID Value: 53=V2nPJ9pLZAt-hYsRLus7W3U4dlBY8HoXbAWgvVeTwg31Our1k1bgCphflivpX21wsKVV3K62La_Qo9qWr-CvRz__HppNYqCjFf03JsFz81zcc0TLXT6I0Kj9LlE_AcsA
Ensure that the domain value correctly represents the page that you are currently surfing (example domain=mail.google.com for Gmail). Refresh the page to see the new navigation bar in action.
IE6 countdown is one of many websites that has sprung up in recent times, which anxiously documents the point of time when IE 6 will be used no more (or negligibly). Once upon a time, IE 6 was one of the most popular browsers around, for better or for worse. This was when Microsoft commanded an awe-inspiring 95% of the browser’s market share. In those days, IE 6 was actually the standard by which other browsers were often judged by and most often found to be sorely lacking.
Users moved to IE 6 in droves then and many of them stayed put, even to this day. I recently came across a friend in class using IE 6. Needless to say, I was shocked! And that is an understatement. Even in the world of HTML 5, this browser still holds its own in the youth market.
There were a lot of tears shed, I am sure, over this temperamental browser. I remember the extra tweaking that had to be done to allow a website to work on IE 6. It is, after all, the standard browser for the very popular MS Windows XP. However, this does not stop many web-based companies from cutting off their support for IE 6 as they felt that it hindered their progress to provide a rich UI experience to their users. Despite its terrible security and all, this browser has still not been isolated by its fans.
The loyalty to IE 6 may be caused by the familiarity of using the same web interface for the last 10 years; in addition, the lethargy on part of the corporations/users must be playing an important role too. I believe that most of us usually encounter IE 6 only at work. The web is moving on in spite of IE 6, but one has to pity web developers world over for the extra efforts that they need to take to make special allowances for IE 6.
One of the least appreciated features of Opera is its mail component. Opera uses the mail component for both email communications and RSS feeds. While Opera’s mail component might not have all the bells and whistles of some of the stand-alone RSS feed readers or email clients, it is more than powerful enough for most users. Yesterday, Opera Software released a new snapshot of Opera 11.60 that introduces some pretty major improvements to Opera’s Mail client.
Opera now uses the three column mode, with the list on the left and message on the right, as the default mode. This mode is undoubtedly the best mode to read mail or feeds, especially on widescreen monitors. However, if you want to go back to the old display style, with list on top and message at the bottom, you can still do so by clicking on the wrench icon, which replaces the confusing View’ menu with a simple Settings’ menu.
Opera has also introduced automatic mail grouping, whereby messages are automatically clubbed together by date. You also have the option to group items by unread status, by pinned status, or not at all.
The stylesheet and icons for Mail have been redone. As a result, everything looks a lot cleaner, lighter, and fresher. Other changes include a new pinned messages feature and a couple of mail bug fixes.
You can download the latest Opera snapshot from the Desktop Team Blog. Since this is a snapshot, all the usual disclaimers apply. In fact, you need to be extra cautious while installing Opera Tunny builds, as they are not Opera Next releases and install over stable versions.
Firefox 8 is not officially slated to be released until November 8; however, the final builds for most platforms are already available on Mozilla’s ftp channels. Unlike the last few releases, Firefox 8 actually has a couple of new features that are worth looking into.
The biggest change is related to Firefox’s add-on installation and management procedure. On first launch, Firefox 8 presents users with a list of all the add-ons currently installed. Add-ons that were installed by third-party applications are disabled by default. If any third party application attempts to install a new extension, Firefox will seek the user’s permission before allowing the extension to be installed.
There is also a new option that forces Firefox to load tabs only when they are activated, while restoring windows and tabs from the previous session. This is a handy option that should reduce the start-up times for Firefox 8. However, it is disabled by default and needs to be enabled from Options –> General.
Other significant changes in Firefox 8 are: addition of Twitter to the search bar, improved tab animations, improved performance and memory handling when using HTML5
At the time of writing, Firefox 8 for Windows x64 was yet to be uploaded; however, you can find the new stable build for almost all other platforms here.
Opera Software has just released the first snapshot of Opera 11.60, codenamed Tunny. This release marks a departure from the Norwegian browser developer’s previously announced plans of following up Opera Swordfish (Opera 11.5) with Wahoo (Opera 12). According to the new roadmap, Opera will release Tunny within a few weeks, and will follow it up with Wahoo when it is ready. The prime reason for the new roadmap is that Opera’s hardware acceleration feature is still not ready for primetime. “Our ambitions for hardware acceleration are very high and we consider it more important to do it right, than to do it fast”, explained Opera’s RuarÃ Ã˜degaard.
Unlike Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Opera doesn’t follow a rapid release cycle. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the rapid release schedule. One of the arguments put forth by Mozilla in favor of the new fast paced release cycle is that it ensures that crucial features that are ready for mass consumption don’t get held up due to other unfinished enhancements. By being flexible about its release schedule, Opera is successfully tackling one of the potential disadvantages of a feature driven release cycle, while avoiding all the annoyances of a rapid release cycle.
Opera 11.60 snapshot can be downloaded from the Opera Desktop Team blog. Unlike other preview builds, the snapshot will not be available as an Opera Next download. It will overwrite the stable installation. Hence, it is reccomended that you backup your existing profile before installing this build. Opera has announced that it will continue publishing Opera 12 snapshots, which will be available as an Opera Next download.