Preview cutting-edge Internet Explorer features early with new test build browser

Developers can try out new features of the next version of Internet Explorer using a test edition Microsoft has released for their use.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel, which can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1, runs independently of the user’s copy of IE, allowing programmers to test the newest browser features without disrupting their current browser setup.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel will offer an early version of IE while it is still being worked on by Microsoft programmers. Developers can preview features planned for the upcoming editions of the browser to help them better build Web applications and pages that use the new capabilities.

Microsoft also hopes that developers will offer feedback, so the company can better implement the pending features.

The developer version offers a sandbox-like testing environment so it does not interfere with the user’s IE browser profile. The browser does not run as quickly as the standard edition of IE and because it is a beta version, should not be used in production environments. The first Developer Channel release offers automated WebDriver testing, enhanced F12 developer tools, and Xbox controller support for web-based games.

With the test version, Microsoft is replicating the fast development environments used by other browser makers.

Mozilla offers nightly builds of the next version of the Firefox browser under development. Google also offers developer versions of its Chrome browser.

Microsoft plans to issue frequent updates to the test version of IE, announcing them through the DevChannel.Modern.IE developer resource site. Microsoft’s F12 Developer Tools were designed to help debug and optimize Web pages and Web applications.

via Preview cutting-edge Internet Explorer features early with new test build browser | PCWorld.

Microsoft goes public with browser development plans

Aiming to provide more transparency in how it develops Internet Explorer, Microsoft has launched a website to help keep developers abreast of the latest changes and plans for the browser.

This site aims to put IE on similar ground with Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, which are open-source projects, so given the public nature of their development, details about pending technologies are known early on by third-party developers.

The Internet Explorer Web Platform Status and Roadmap provides information on which Web technologies and standards are supported by the browser, and which Microsoft is currently considering for future editions.

Historically speaking, Web developers have tended to view IE as the most closed of the browsers, given the relative paucity of information provided by Microsoft about the technologies and standards it would support. This could be problematic when a developer wanted to use a new Web standard but would hold back until it was known that IE would support that standard.

A heads-up for developers

While withholding details about new features in an upcoming software release has been the norm for software providers such as Microsoft, Web developers have preferred lots of details early on in the development process of their software, so they can write apps to use these new features as soon as possible, or know not to use a standard should it not be widely supported across different browsers.

“The current list of features ‘in development’ is not an exhaustive representation of what we will deliver in the next version, but an indication of what we currently have highest confidence in delivering,” wrote Sam George, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer partner group program manager, in a blog post announcing the launch.

The site lists 153 technologies in various stages of development. Some are being developed by Microsoft while others are being built by working groups within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) or other industry groups.

The site specifies which, if any, versions of IE support each technology, as well as which other browsers run the technology, such as Chrome and Firefox. It also shows the current development status for the technology, whether it is under development or already implemented.

By providing more information, Microsoft hopes that its IE engineers will get more feedback from developers about what should or shouldn’t be included in the browser.

Microsoft launched a beta version of the site at the company’s Build developer conference last month. The site went fully live Wednesday and Microsoft started posting the data from the site on GitHub in the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format, so it can be used by other programs and websites.

Upcoming features

Now that it is live, the site also reveals some of the features being added to IE. For instance, IE will support HTTP/2, the next generation Hypertext Transport Protocol under development.

Future versions of the browser will also support the Web Audio API (application programming interface) for playing audio on a Web page or application, and the Media Capture standard for ingesting photos and other user-generated content.

Microsoft IE Engineers will host a Twitter chat Thursday starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time to answer more questions about IE and the Status page, by way of the #AskIE hashtag and @IEDevChat handle.


Mozilla kills Firefox browser for Windows 8 Metro

Shipping a final version of the Mozilla Firefox browser for the Windows 8 “Metro” environment “would be a mistake,” according to a Mozilla vice president, because of the relatively minuscule number of users on the platform.

In fact, Mozilla has never seen more than 1,000 users pre-testing the beta version of Mozilla, said Johnathan Nightingale, the vice president of Firefox, in a blog post on Friday. But on any given day, millions of of people test pre-release versions of Firefox on other platforms, he added.

“Mozilla builds software to make the world better, but we have to pick our battles,” Nightingale wrote. “We’re not as tiny as we were when we shipped Firefox 1.0, but we still need to focus on the projects with the most impact for our mission; the massive scale of our competitors and of the work to be done requires us to marshal our forces appropriately.”

Mozilla launched its Metro effort in 2012, Nightingale said, and the team “broke through” Microsoft’s controls and began developing Firefox for x86-based versions of the platform. Mozilla never developed a version of Firefox for Windows RT using ARM chips, after the company complained in 2012 that Microsoft was locking Windows users to its own browser.

It’s unclear how many users opt for the Metro version of Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer versus the version designed for its desktop mode; Microsoft has never broken the two numbers out. When Net Applications said Internet Explorer commanded 48.37 percent of the desktop browser market for February, for example, the company did not differentiate between the two versions. But, combined, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 commanded just 10.68 percent or so of the entire PC market.

A Microsoft representative was not immediately available for comment.

If Mozilla did ship a Metro version of Firefox, it would be without the requisite amount of bug testing and subsequent fixes, leaving users to find and report bugs on a “finished” product. “To ship it without doing that follow up work is not an option,” Nightingale wrote.

“This opens up the risk that Metro might take off tomorrow and we’d have to scramble to catch back up, but that’s a better risk for us to take than the real costs of investment in a platform our users have shown little sign of adopting,” Nightingale concluded.

via Mozilla kills Firefox browser for Windows 8 Metro | PCWorld.

Windows 8.x growth flatlines, Internet Explorer 11 makes a splash

November was the first full month of availability for both Windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9. After the initial surge in October, Windows 8.1 increased its usage share of the Web by fifty percent. OS X 10.9, however, almost tripled its share—bringing Apple’s operating system within spitting distance of Microsoft’s.

In the browser space, the launch of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7 (as an automatic update, no less) has seen that browser more than double its share in a month.

The state of the desktop browser market as a whole was largely unchanged in November. Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome were up marginally, gaining 0.14, 0.06, and 0.02 points respectively. Firefox and Opera saw slight falls, dropping by 0.16 and 0.03 points, respectively.

The mobile market shows a bit more variation. Chrome continues to pick up steam, gaining 1.48 points. Internet Explorer was also up, adding 0.26 points. BlackBerry was down sharply, falling 0.75 points. Safari was also down a little, falling by 0.17 points.

The migration between Chrome and Firefox versions follows the predictable pattern provoked by those browsers’ automatic updates. The newcomer here is Internet Explorer 11. It made its debut with Windows 8.1, and in November it was released for Windows 7 as an automatic update. Rather than the near-immediate global rollouts of those browsers, Microsoft favors a staggered release for Internet Explorer, with the browser being pushed out on a country by country basis.

The advantage of even this limited automatic updating is immediately clear. Internet Explorer 10 lost 1.44 points in November, and Internet Explorer 11 gained 1.78 points.

Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are slowly declining. Nonetheless, there’s clearly a big Internet Explorer 8 sized problem in Microsoft’s browser strategy. This is the newest version of Internet Explorer that works on Windows XP. Much as Microsoft might wish these users to upgrade to a newer operating system, they plainly haven’t.

In a very practical way, they’re holding back the rest of the Web, and even policies such as Google’s decision to support only the current and previous browser versions on many of its services (meaning that the company only supports Internet Explorer 10 and 11) hasn’t done anything to shift these users. Something needs to be done about the problem, especially with Windows XP itself only having a few more months of security updates available, but it’s not clear what Microsoft’s answer is, or if it even has one.

The operating system share has some surprises. Windows 8’s market share wasn’t growing explosively, but it was at least growing. The release of Windows 8.1—an operating system that’s almost universally superior to Windows 8—should, if anything, have helped stimulate that growth. But that appears not to be the case. The total share between the two operating systems (8 and 8.1) was 9.25 percent in October. In November it had barely grown to 9.30 percent.

The contrast with OS X continues to be striking. OS X 10.9 went from 0.84 percent share in October to 2.42 percent in November. This is still behind Windows 8.1’s 2.64 percent—but not by much.

via ArsTechnica

Internet Explorer 11 will land on Windows 7… someday

With Internet Explorer 11, Microsoft isn’t abandoning older versions of Windows just yet.
The company has confirmed to Engadget that it will bring Internet Explorer 11 to Windows 7 at some point. IE11 is available now as part of the Windows 8.1 preview, but it’s unclear when the Windows 7 version will launch. The official launch of Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 lagged about four months behind Windows 8’s final release.
Granted, there’s not a whole lot of overt changes for desktop users to look forward to in Internet Explorer 11. The update will mainly bring under-the-hood improvements to speed and battery life, along with support for WebGL 3D graphics rendering and MPEG Dash hardware acceleration for video streaming.
In terms of user interface, IE10 and IE11 are nearly identical on the desktop. The biggest interface change is an extremely minor one: The “Safety” section of the settings bar now includes a quick option to turn Do Not Track requests on or off.

Internet Explorer 11 is included as part of the Windows 8.1 update.
As with IE10, most of the work has gone into the modern-style browser, which includes significant changes such as side-by-side windowing, an option to permanently show the address bar and open tabs, tab sync across Windows 8 devices, and the ability to reopen closed tabs. It also allows websites to have their own animated Live Tiles, and offers some tweaks and enhancements for touch screens. Certain features that might work nicely on the desktop—such as tab sync across devices and the ability to add pages to the new Reading List app—appear to be modern-style only.
Still, Microsoft doesn’t believe in killing off the desktop version of IE entirely. Dean Hachamovich, corporate vice president in charge of Internet Explorer, said at Microsoft’s Build conference that users will still want to be in the desktop for some activities, and that the new IE engine does “all this wicked-fast, cool stuff.” It’s nice to know that Windows 7 users will be able to take advantage eventually.
via Internet Explorer 11 will land on Windows 7… someday | PCWorld.

Internet Explorer 10 usage doubles after Microsoft triggers auto-update

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) doubled its usage share last month, and now accounts for nearly 11 percent of all copies of IE in use, a Web measurement company said today.
IE10, which Microsoft launched last October for Windows 8 and in February for the far-more-popular Windows 7, doubled its usage share within IE from 5.3% to a month-ending 10.8%, data published by Net Applications showed.
The browser’s quick rise—as recently as January, it accounted for only 2.3 percent of all copies of Internet Explorer—was triggered by the start of an automatic update from 2011’s IE9 to this year’s IE10 on Windows 7 PCs.
IE10 was the first browser released by Microsoft since it changed its upgrade policy in late 2011. Rather than seek user approval before upgrading IE—the previous practice—Microsoft adopted a Google Chrome-like “silent” scheme that automatically installs the newest browser suitable for that version of Windows.
IE10 supports only Windows 8 and Windows 7, leaving Windows Vista stuck with IE9, just as Windows XP has been frozen at IE8.
Virtually all of IE10 gains were apparently through the upgrade process—rather than in persuading users of rivals’ browsers to switch—as IE9, the previous standard on Windows 7, dropped to 32.6 percent of all copies of Internet Explorer from 37 percent the month before.
IE9 peaked in February with a 38.8 percent share of all copies of Internet Explorer.
Businesses can block IE10 from being automatically installed on their machines by deploying a toolkit Microsoft issued two months ago, or by using the standard update management tools, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or Systems Management Server (SMS).
IE8 remained flat at 41.4 percent of all copies of Internet Explorer, and if analysts are correct, will remain the most popular version of Microsoft’s browser (free registration required) because not only is it the most modern available for the stubborn Windows XP, but it has also been adopted as the standard by many enterprises.
Nor did Microsoft make any progress last month in killing off IE6, the 2001 browser it’s been trying to eradicate for years. IE6 was used by 11.1 percent of all those running Internet Explorer, a higher percentage than IE10.
Other browsers, including Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome, remained flat in Net Applications’ measurements as well, with Firefox ending April with a 20.3 percent usage share and with Chrome accounting for 16.4 percent.
IE’s overall share also didn’t change in April: Microsoft’s various browsers garnered a usage share of 55.8 percent, steady for the first time since September.
via Internet Explorer 10 usage doubles after Microsoft triggers auto-update | PCWorld.

As Mozilla turns 15, Firefox 20 debuts with new privacy

Late last year Mozilla revealed a new private-browsing feature that was in the works for an upcoming version of its Firefox browser, and that’s just what appeared in Mozilla’s Final Release channel on Tuesday.
Specifically, Firefox 20 made its official debut with a desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and a mobile version for Android.

“Firefox includes a new enhancement to private browsing that allows you to open a new private browsing window without closing or changing your current browsing session,” explains the post officially announcing Firefox 20 on the Mozilla Blog. “You can shop for a birthday gift in a private window with your existing browsing session uninterrupted.”
A new download panel in the Firefox toolbar, meanwhile, makes it easier to download files with Firefox by allowing users to monitor, view, and locate downloaded files without having to switch to another window, as shown in the video below.

50 million more phones
On the mobile side, Firefox 20 for Android supports private browsing on a per-tab basis, Mozilla said, giving users a way to open a new private browsing tab during their current browsing session and to switch between private and standard tabs within the same browsing session.
Also new in Firefox for Android are a way to customize the shortcuts on the home screen with the user’s most frequently visited sites and support for additional devices running on ARMv6 processors, including the Samsung Galaxy Next, HTC Aria, HTC Legend, Samsung Dart, Samsung Galaxy Pop, and the Samsung Galaxy Q. The result, Mozilla says, is a better Web experience on almost 50 million more phones.
Numerous critical bug fixes and developer features round out the new release of the free and open source browser, which is now available as a download on the Mozilla site.
‘A Web that’s more open’

Also on Tuesday, meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it turned 15 on March 31, sparking several looks back at what it has achieved during that time.
“Mozilla has helped shift the center of gravity to a Web that’s more open — that gives more people the opportunity to create and enjoy the Web on *their* terms,” wrote Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, in a blog post on the topic. “Billions of people experience the openness of the Web every day as they create, connect and invent in ways that reflect their goals and dreams, without needing the permission of a few commercial organizations.”

At the same time, the Web now faces threats just as big as those 15 years ago, Baker warned.
“As the role of data grows and device capabilities expand, the Internet will become an even more central part of our lives,” she explained. “The need for individuals to have some control over how this works and what we experience is fundamental.”
In the coming years, Mozilla aims to play a key role in that battle, Baker added.
A slideshow on Mozilla’s site illustrates key milestones in its 15-year history.
via As Mozilla turns 15, Firefox 20 debuts with new privacy | PCWorld.

Mozilla delivers 'Metro' Firefox browser to testers

Mozilla delivers ‘Metro’ Firefox browser to testers
Mozilla has taken another step toward delivering a “Metro” version of Firefox to Windows 8 users.
Late Tuesday, Asa Dotzler, the Firefox desktop product manager, announced that a preliminary Metro browser had reached “mozilla-central,” the source code repository that feeds into what Mozilla calls the “Nightly” build channel.
Nightly builds are designed for testing, and as the name implies, are automatically updated each night to that day’s edition. Firefox’s Nightly builds are Mozilla’s roughest-edged editions. Every six weeks, the current Nightly morphs into an Aurora build — analogous to an alpha — that kicks off a three-month development cycle which ends when the next iteration is officially released.

“If you are on the Firefox Nightly channel and you have a Windows 8 device, your Wednesday Firefox update should deliver a Metro Firefox tile to the far right end of your Windows Start screen,” Dotzler wrote.
Like many, Dotzler used “Metro” to refer to the kind of apps that run in the new tile-based user interface (UI) of Windows 8, even though Microsoft abandoned the label last summer.
“There’s plenty of work still to do, but it’s stable enough that we’re ready for more and more regular testing,” added Dotzler.
Mozilla debuted a Metro-ized Firefox preview last October, weeks before Microsoft launched Windows 8. To run the preview, people had to explicitly download it from a different, and experimental, development repository. Since then, the open-source developer has been quiet about its work on Windows 8 and Metro.
Today’s addition of Metro Firefox to mozilla-central means that all Nightly users running Windows 8 will be updated daily to the latest version at approximately 9:30 p.m. PT. The move will expose a larger group of testers to the Metro version.
Mozilla still has not set a timetable for a finished, polished Windows 8 browser that includes both a desktop version and one for the Metro UI. In a month-old message posted to the Metro Firefox mailing list, Dotzler said that the goals for the first quarter — which ends March 31 — were to integrate the version with mozilla-central, and “deliver a preview/milestone that has a feature-complete Awesome screen experience.”
windows 8
Work on Metro Firefox began almost a year ago, when Mozilla committed to creating a browser for Windows 8’s new UI, the first of Microsoft’s rivals to do so. Google followed a month later.
Browsers are a special case for Windows 8. Their Metro-ized versions can run outside the normal security sandbox, and have access to most Windows APIs (application programming interface) on the classic desktop, as well as the new WinRT API, the backbone of Windows 8’s Metro app development.
The category also gets other passes from Microsoft: A desktop browser with a Metro version circumvents the Windows Store, and when installed on the Windows 8 classic desktop, simultaneously installs the Metro version.
The biggest caveat for a Windows 8 browser is that only the default browser can run in the Metro UI. During setup, Windows 8 assigns Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) as the default browser. However, users can change the default.
The Nightly build of Firefox can be downloaded from Mozilla’s website. To use Metro Firefox, of course, users must install the Nightly on a PC running Windows 8 or on a tablet, such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro, powered by the OS.
Firefox cannot be installed on a Windows RT device like Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet.
via Mozilla delivers ‘Metro’ Firefox browser to testers | PCWorld.