Tag Archives: Internet Explorer

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Developer Preview Is Here: Internet Explorer Even Better Now

Cortana Windows Phone 8.1 Update

As communicated by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore on Windows Blogs on July 30, the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 is now rolling out to devices with the preview program. The update, simply called Windows Phone 8.1 Update (although it has been referred to as Update 1 too), brings Cortana to more markets in beta and alpha form, adds a Live Folders feature, adds a Live Tile to the Store icon, allows multiple SMS merge/delete operations, brings new Xbox Music app, adds a new feature called App Corner and increases privacy and security by enabling consumer-level VPN when connected to wifi hotspots.

Among the several unnamed changes and fixes are “hundreds of fixes” made to mobile Internet Explorer 11 to make it more compatible with the mobile web. The irony here is that on the desktop web developers had to code specifically for Internet Explorer 4 or 5 because it had several non-standard features. Now, Internet Explorer (both on the desktop and mobile) is promoting coding to web standards whereas web developers have catered their site for Webkit and specifically for iOS. This unfortunate reality made the Internet Explorer team re-think their strategy, and for their customers’ benefit, they made some tweaks to mobile IE that make it appear as an iOS browser to websites. Therefore, many sites which have browser sniffing enabled, will now provide the iPhone version of their site to mobile IE visitors as well.

As the blog post on Internet Explorer blog depicts, websites render very differently before and after this update:

 

Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on iPhone
Twitter on iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone

 

After reading that blog post, I was very curious to see how Google’s websites render after this update. Another irony here is that Google, the company that beats the standards drums, has most of their properties coded for Webkit and/or detects mobile IE as a feature phone browser. The result is that GMail, Google News, etc. render very poorly.

I am happy to say that these changes in mobile IE11 do make the experience better, at least at first glance. See the comparisons below:

 

GMail before IE11 update
GMail before IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 updateGoogle App Drawer after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 update

Apps Corner is much like Kids Corner where one can set one or a few apps to be available in a “corner” so when it is activated, no other apps are visible or accessible. This has good uses in the enterprise setting but it is clearly not only targeted to enterprises.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit

Live Folders is an interesting take on folders. Live Tiles have been a distinguishing feature of Windows Phone since it launched as Windows Phone 7. Instead of creating “dumb” folders which just hold the icons included in the folder, Live Folders presumably show the live tile contents of all the tiles included in the folders. This is neat because now you can reclaim some of the real estate on the Start Screen but not have to give up on one of the key features of the platform. It is also good to see that the icons included in the folders retain their tile size inside the folders, and the folder tile itself can be set to any size.

 

Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded

 

I don’t see how I can enable the consumer VPN feature, but that sure sounds extremely useful if I understand it correctly, which is, when connected to wifi hotspots, one would be connected to a VPN server right away. I may have misunderstood the feature so I will wait on reserving judgement until I actually find out more, or experience it myself when I connect to a public hotspot.

Have you downloaded the update? What are your thoughts?

Microsoft launces Internet Explorer Developer Channel

On June 16, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer will now have a Developer Channel release which can run side-by-side with the production/GA version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. This feature, which has long been available in Google’s Chrome browser and Mozilla’s Firefox, is a pleasant surprise to those who use Internet Explorer.

This release is a continuation of the effort Microsoft, and especially Internet Explorer team has started, to become developer-friendly by being proactive in communication about the roadmap and the features. This release, unlike the previous developer previews Microsoft created, not only runs side-by-side with the existing version of Internet Explorer but also includes changes to the UI as they are made.

Some of the key updates in this release include:

Updates to F12 developer tools

An enhanced debugging experience with event breakpoints that help you get to your event-driven bugs faster.

Richer analysis capabilities throughout the Memory and UI Responsiveness profilers, which support further reduction of noise through multi-dimensional timeline filter, while further increasing the semantic value of the data being reported by lighting up performance.measure() based instrumentation and dominator folding.

An improved navigation experience that provides more keyboard shortcuts (ctrl+[ and ctrl + ]), as well as new header notifications, which allows you to quickly determine whether any of the profiling tools are running or how many errors your page has.

The complete list of updates are on MSDN here.

IE Dev Channel F12 Tools
IE Dev Channel F12 Tools

Support for WebDriver standard

IE Developer Channel also comes with support for the emerging WebDriver standard through which Web developers can write tests to automate Web browsers to test their sites. It’s a programmable remote control for developing complex user scenarios and running them in an automated fashion in your Web site and browser. See how you can setup WebDriver in the IE Developer Channel, and try out this sample WebDriver project.

Support for Gamepad API standard and improved WebGL support

IE Developer Channel comes with support of the emerging Gamepad API standard that lets you use JavaScript to add gamepad support to your Web apps and games.

IE Developer Channel also improves WebGL performance and adds support for instancing extension, 16-bit textures, GLSL builtin variables, and triangle fans. This release improves our Khronos WebGL Conformance Test 1.0.2 score from 89% to 94%.

Status.modern.ie Gamepad Status
Status.modern.ie Gamepad Status

The team is promising frequent updates to the Developer Channel and we shall see how frequent that is. Given the pace and cadence across various other groups at Microsoft, it could be anywhere from two weeks (Xbox Music) to a month (Xbox One, Power BI) or three-four months (Windows, Windows Phone). Whatever it is, for developers this is much better than anything Internet Explorer has done in the past.

You can download the Developer Channel release from here.

Here’s Charles Morris introducing the Developer Channel IE:

Internet Explorer 11 Will Pretend to be Firefox to Avoid Non-standard CSS

Guess who is turning out to be Internet Explorer’s biggest headache. It’s none other than its own self. For years, Internet Explorer terrorized web developers, and anguished browser developers due to its lackluster implementation of web standards. Now that Microsoft is attempting to cleanup its act and move forward, the bad practices promoted by older versions of Internet Explorer is coming back to bite the software giant.

Opera, one of the earliest proponents of web standards, was forced to identify itself as Internet Explorer for a long time to get around silly browser sniffing scripts. Now, in a strange twist of fate, Microsoft might be forced to identify itself as Mozilla. Neowin has discovered that Internet Explorer 11 that is bundled with the leaked release of Windows Blue uses a userstring which includes the “like Gecko” command. Here’s what the Internet Explorer 11 userstring looks like:

Mozilla/5.0 (IE 11.0; Windows NT 6.3; Trident/7.0; .NET4.0E; .NET4.0C; rv11.0) like Gecko

Internet-Explorer-11-Like-Firefox
Internet Explorer 11 to Appear as Firefox

The command essentially instructs websites to treat Internet Explorer like Firefox. Most websites employ Internet Explorer specific hacks and fixes to ensure compatibility with Internet Explorer 8 and older. This change will prevent Internet Explorer 11 from being served the old non-standard code designed for older versions. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that Windows Blue is still under development, and things might change before it’s released.

Internet Explorer 10 Now Available for Windows 7

Internet-Explorer-10Internet Explorer 10 is finally ready for Windows 7. Exactly four months after IE 10 officially debuted with Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has managed to get its browser ready for Windows 7 users. Unfortunately, if you are still on Vista or XP, you are out of luck. Microsoft is no longer interested in supporting you. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives, each of which works flawlessly even on the more than a decade old Windows XP.

One of the things that kept Microsoft busy while making Internet Explorer 10 compatible with Windows 7 was touch API support. In fact, ArsTechnica is reporting that installing Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 requires the installation of a platform update that brings Windows 7’s version of these APIs in line with Windows 8. Hardware acceleration using Direct2D and DirectWrite is also in. Other features Microsoft is touting include 60% increase in supported modern web standards, 20% improvement in rendering speed, and improved security, privacy and reliability.

If you installed the preview release, Internet Explorer 10 will be marked as an important update for you, otherwise it will be an optional update. However, Microsoft will be marking Internet Explorer 10 as an important update in more and more regions over the coming months. As per the default Windows Update settings, important updates are automatically downloaded, while optional updates aren’t.

[ Download Internet Explorer 10 ]

Internet Explorer 10 Coming to Windows 7 Next Month

Internet-Explorer-10Microsoft has a horrible track record when it comes to supporting older operating systems. Now, don’t get me wrong – they continue publishing patches and hotfixes for a Windows release for several years. However, when it comes to supporting older operating systems in their software, Microsoft often plays it dirty. For example, Internet Explorer 9 introduced a host of new features, but was limited to only Windows 7 and Vista. Similarly, Windows Live dropped support for XP in 2009 with Wave 3. This stands in stark contrast with software from third parties like Opera Software, which continues to support even Windows 2000.

The story is no different with Internet Explorer 10. IE 10 will be baked into Windows 8, and will arrive for Windows 7 in November. However, there is a big caveat. Windows 7 users will only get a preview release next month, and will have to wait further for the final release. Not only is Microsoft ignoring older operating systems like Vista, but it is already treating Windows 7 users as second class citizens.

Microsoft Issues Fix It for Internet Explorer Zero Day Vulnerability

A few days ago, we reported a new vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer that could allow an attacker to execute code remotely on an affected PC. The vulnerability had been spreading fast and had been added to free attack tools used by hackers.

Microsoft has now issued an interim solution in the form of a Fix It tool which can be downloaded from here. In a blog post published today, Microsoft’s Yunsun Wee says that the tool is a one click solution that will protect users right away and that it will not hinder user’s web browsing in any way. You wont have to reboot your computer as well.

Microsoft will be releasing an out-of-band security update, MS12-063 this Friday to close the vulnerability. The update will be rated critical and will address the zero day vulnerability (Security Advisory 2757760) along with four other remote code execution issues. Users who downloaded the FixIt solution need not uninstall it before installing the update.

If you have automatic updates enabled, the update will be installed automatically and if you don’t, make sure that you install the update so that your computers are not vulnerable. Also, I highly recommend installing the FixIt solution right now to prevent any zero day attacks.

New Critical 0-day Internet Explorer Vulnerability Being Used to Deliver Poison Ivy Trojan

If you are still using Internet Explorer 9 or below, here is one more reason to upgrade to Internet Explorer 10, or perhaps take a look at one of the many excellent free alternatives. A critical zero-day vulnerability has been uncovered in Internet Explorer that could allow a remote hacker to execute arbitrary code on your system even if you simply browse to an infected page. The vulnerability is already being actively exploited in the wild. Affected versions include Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Eric Romang was the first to report the vulnerability, which has since been confirmed by Microsoft. The exploit has four main components: the Exploit.html file which acts as the starting point, the Moh2010.swf flash file that is responsible for spraying the heap with the payload that will be executed, the Protect.html file that is the actual trigger for the vulnerability, and additional malicious components that are downloaded and executed on the compromised system by the payload. The payload being dropped by the flash file has been identified to be the infamous Poison Ivy trojan.

If Internet Explorer 10 is not supported on your system and you don’t want to move to an alternate browser, Microsoft is recommending that you add Internet Explorer to the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, or set Internet and Local intranet security zone settings to “High” to block ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting. Detailed workaround instructions are available in Microsoft’s Security Advisory.

Windows 8 Setup Will Set ‘Do Not Track’ to On in Express Settings

 

In a blog post on the Microsoft On The Issues blog on August 7, Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft announced that during Windows 8 setup, Internet Explorer’s Do Not Track (DNT) feature will be set to ON in the Express Settings option.

Internet Explorer’s DNT default caused a bit of stir recently with companies like Google which make money mostly through their advertisement products, as well as advertisers who want better tracking/metrics/targeting, not wanting this feature turned on by default. The argument from privacy advocates (and Microsoft) was that if it is not turned on by default, there is a very small chance it will be turned on deliberately by the user. Mozilla, makers of Firefox, which has stood tall for consumer privacy, curiously does not turn it on by default. (Could it be because their single-largest source of income is royalty payments from Google for keeping Firefox Start Page to be a custom Google search page, and for keeping Google the default search engine in the browser? Can’t say for sure.)

In any case, now that Windows 8 has RTM-ed, we know what the behavior is going to be. Users who go through the setup with Express Settings will have DNT turned on by default. During the setup, it will be made clear that this setting has been turned on, and to change it they can click on Customize Settings during the setup. If someone cares enough about fine tuning the Windows 8 setup, they can choose Customize Settings and they will be shown the choice to turn it off and a link to “Learn More” about the feature along with a Privacy Statement.

Microsoft should be commended for taking a pro-consumer, privacy-first stand and while this may be a competitive play to blunt Google’s biggest revenue generation area, the fact that consumers benefit as a result of the competitive play, is a huge plus in the end.

Let’s wait and see which organization stands up and speaks against this move – publishers, advertisers, Google or the government.

Critical Security Update for Internet Explorer Available via Windows Update

As part of the Cumulative Security Update for July 2012, Microsoft has released a crtical security update for Internet Explorer 9. The security update addresses the vulnerabilities by modifying the way that Internet Explorer handles objects in memory.

The security update resolves two vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. The vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker who successfully exploited any of these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the current user. Internet Explorer 9 users on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 are affected with the issue. This security update is rated Critical for Internet Explorer 9 on Windows clients and Moderate for Internet Explorer 9 on Windows servers. The vulnerabilities addressed by this update do not affect Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, when installed using the Server Core installation option. However, the update is available for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server 2012 Consumer Preview.

The Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2719177) will be available to all the customers who have automatic updating enabled. Customers who have not enabled automatic updating need to check for updates and install this update manually.

Chrome Surpasses Internet Explorer to Become the World’s Most Popular Web Browser

It’s been over several months since I last used Internet Explorer. Perhaps it could be the same case with you as well. Over the last two years, Internet Explorer has not only lost momentum, but the number of IE users have drastically dropped. Right from the first day of Chrome’s release, it has been a serious threat to the future of Internet Explorer, and today we see the fate of once-upon-a-time popular browser — Internet Explorer, going down the drain.

According to the latest figures from StatCounter, for the first time ever, Google Chrome has become one of the most popular Web browsers worldwide, surpassing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Chrome has taken an overall lead with 32.76 percent share, while IE has drastically dipped to 31.94 percent.

Chrome Become's World's Most Popular Web Browser

Back in March this year, Chrome had surpassed IE, however, that was just for one single day over the weekend. The browser reached 32.7 percent of the global rankings on March 18. Chrome was pushed back behind, as IE continued to dominate in the market.

Exactly a year back, IE dominated the Web browser market with a 43 percent share, which was followed by Mozilla Firefox with 29 percent share. Chrome, which was picking its pace slowly, was at the third position with just 19 percent share. Today, IE has lost almost 12 percent market share while Google’s Chrome has grown by 13 percent to the dominate IE and Firefox.

StatCounter’s data is based on over 15 billion page views per month (4 billion from the US; 850 million from the UK) to the StatCounter network of more than three million websites. StatCounter’s statistics are prominently considered to be reliable, however, stats shared by NetMarketShare are quite radical and differ widely. NetMarketShare’s stats show that Internet Explorer had 54.09 percent share this month followed by Firefox with 20 percent share, and Chrome placed in the third position with 18.85 percent.

Browser Market Share

It is known that most of Chrome’s traffic share is from Asia and South America, however, IE and Firefox are still dominating in North America and Europe. In India, Chrome has already achieved the number one spot with 8 percent lead over Firefox. On the other hand, IE continues to rule in Japan, China and South Korea with nearly 50 percent of traffic share.