Archive for the ‘chrome’ Category

Microsoft’s plan for Edge: Integrated IE compatibility, better privacy

May 6th, 2019

Microsoft has outlined its plans for the next stage of development for the new Chromium-based Edge browser, and those plans include a trio of new features.

The first is a big nod to enterprise customers: a built-in Internet Explorer mode. Chrome has a number of extensions that accomplish much the same thing—they create a new tab in the browser and use the Internet Explorer 11 engine, rather than the Chrome engine, to draw that tab. For Edge, this capability will be built in.

Enterprises can already create a compatibility list, the Enterprise Mode Site List, which the current Edge browser uses to know which (internal, line-of-business) sites should be shown in Internet Explorer 11. The new Edge will use this same list to determine when to use Internet Explorer.

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Posted in browsers, build 2019, chrome, Chromium, EDGE, microsoft, Open Source, Tech | Comments (0)

Ex-YouTube engineer reveals how video site worked to kill off Internet Explorer 6

May 2nd, 2019
Ex-YouTube engineer reveals how video site worked to kill off Internet Explorer 6

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

The year is 2009. YouTube, four years old, has become the Web's leading video site. Though Internet Explorer 6 was far from current—it had been superseded by versions 7 and 8—it nonetheless made up some 18 percent of YouTube's traffic. These were, after all, the dark days of Windows XP; corporations had overwhelmingly stuck with Windows XP in spite of the release of Windows Vista, and Windows 7 was still some months from release. Many organizations still running XP appeared to be wishing for a kind of computational stasis: they wanted to be able to run Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 forever, unchanging, which would greatly simplify their maintenance and support costs.

But Internet Explorer 6 was nearly eight years old and seriously showing its age. On its release, the browser had a legitimate claim to be the best, fastest, most standards compliant, and most stable mainstream browser around. But those days were long gone. Compared to the alternatives—Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 8, and Google's Chrome—it was slow, unstable, and riddled with proprietary, non-standard behaviors. This was causing the team developing YouTube considerable pain, with weeks of extra work each development cycle to ensure that the site still worked correctly in the old browser.

According to former YouTube developer Chris Zacharias, this pain prompted the YouTube team to take renegade action to drive users away from Internet Explorer 6 and onto something newer and better. Though YouTube had been under Google's ownership for about three years, YouTube's engineers were suspicious and wary of being integrated into Google's corporate machine. They had their own special set of permissions named "OldTuber," and anyone with OldTuber permissions could freely modify the YouTube site without going through Google's usual change management process of code reviews, testing, adherence to coding standards, and so on. It was cowboy territory, where developers could do as they liked. Only the risk of breaking things—and hence losing OldTuber permissions, if not their job—kept them on the straight and narrow.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, development, google, Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 6, microsoft, standards, Tech, YouTube | Comments (0)

Edge-on-Chromium approaches; build leaks, extensions page already live

March 25th, 2019

The Edge Insider extension.

The Edge Insider extension. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's first public release of a Chromium-based version of its Edge browser is fast approaching. Microsoft has published an early version of its extension market for the new browser, and the Windows Store includes a new extension for Edge-on-Chromium. On top of all this, a build of the browser has leaked.

The new build confirms much of what we've seen before: the browser is a minimally changed rebranded version of Chrome, replacing integration with Google's accounts with integration with Microsoft's accounts. This integration is still at an early stage; bookmarks can be synced between systems, but history, passwords, open tabs, autocomplete information, and open tabs don't yet sync.

Google has multiple release channels for Chrome; beyond the Stable channel, there's a Beta channel previewing the next release, the Dev channel previewing the release after that, and the Canary channel, which provides nightly builds. Microsoft's new extension for Edge Insider appears to offer easy switching between channels, announcements, known issues, and asking users for focused testing on particular areas.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, Chromium, EDGE, google, microsoft, Open Source, Tech, Web, Windows | Comments (0)

Google Will Prompt European Android Users to Select Preferred Default Browser

March 20th, 2019
Google announced some major changes for its Android mobile operating system in October after the European Commission hit the company with a record $5 billion antitrust fine for pre-installing its own apps and services on third-party Android phones. The European Commission accused Google of forcing Android phone manufacturers to "illegally" tie its proprietary apps and services—specifically,

Posted in antitrust fine, antitrust laws, chrome, European Union, faster browser, google, Google Chrome, mobile browser | Comments (0)

Microsoft proves the critics right: We’re heading toward a Chrome-only Web

March 11th, 2019
Microsoft proves the critics right: We’re heading toward a Chrome-only Web

Enlarge

One of the greatest fears when Microsoft announced that it was ditching its EdgeHTML rendering engine and switching to Chromium—the open source engine that powers Google's Chrome, along with a range of others such as Vivaldi, Brave, and Opera—is that Web developers would increasingly take the easy way out and limit their support and testing to Chrome. That would leave Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, and any other browsers, present or future, out of the fun.

This is, after all, substantially what we saw during Internet Explorer's heyday. Microsoft's browser grew to about 95 percent of the market, and wide swathes of the Web proudly announced that they were "best viewed in Internet Explorer," often to the point of not working at all in any other browser. IE's hegemony presented an enormous challenge for the upstart Firefox browser, which was built to support Web standards rather than Microsoft's particular spin on those standards. Though Internet Explorer was eventually displaced—by Chrome—this arguably would have gone much quicker if developers had been less fixated on Microsoft's browser.

Last week, Microsoft made a major update to the Web version of its Skype client, bringing HD video calling, call recording, and other features already found on the other clients.

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Posted in chrome, codecs, EDGE, Firefox, google, microsoft, Mozilla, Open Source, open standards, Tech, Web, WebRTC | Comments (0)

A “serious” Windows zeroday is being actively exploited in the wild

March 8th, 2019
As a reminder, here's what the default Start menu looked like in Windows 7.

As a reminder, here's what the default Start menu looked like in Windows 7. (credit: Microsoft)

Google security officials are advising Windows users to ensure they’re using the latest version 10 of the Microsoft operating system to protect themselves against a “serious,” unpatched vulnerability that attackers have been actively exploiting in the wild.

Unidentified attackers have been combining an exploit for the unpatched local privilege escalation in Windows with one for a separate security flaw in the Chrome browser that Google fixed last Friday. While that specific exploit combination won’t be effective against Chrome users who are running the latest browser version, the Windows exploit could still be used against people running older versions of Windows. Google researchers privately reported the vulnerability to Microsoft, in keeping with its vulnerability disclosure policy.

“Today, also in compliance with our policy, we are publicly disclosing its existence, because it is a serious vulnerability in Windows that we know was being actively exploited in targeted attacks,” Clement Lecigne, a member of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, wrote in a blog post published Thursday. “The unpatched Windows vulnerability can still be used to elevate privileges or combined with another browser vulnerability to evade security sandboxes. Microsoft have told us they are working on a fix.”

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Posted in Biz & IT, browsers, chrome, exploits zeroday, google, microsoft windows vulnerabilities | Comments (0)

Google turbo-charging the back button with Chrome’s new “back/forward cache”

February 28th, 2019
Now that's some shiny chrome.

Enlarge / Now that's some shiny chrome. (credit: Marc Ellis / Flickr)

Google is developing a new cache for Chrome (via CNET)that should make some page loads extremely fast. The only catch? They'll have to be pages you've already seen and are revisiting after hitting the browser's back button.

Chrome already caches the files that make up a page, so revisiting a page in most circumstances shouldn't force the browser to retrieve the images, JavaScripts, and CSS that are used to build the page. But currently, the browser has to re-parse the HTML and re-build the page's programmatic representation, uncompress the images, re-execute all the JavaScript, reapply all the stylesheets, and so on. It's just the networking step that gets skipped.

The new bfcache (for "back/forward cache") changes that: it lets the browser capture the entire state of a running page—including scripts that are in the middle of execution, the rendered images, and even the scroll position—and reload that state later. With bfcache, rather than having to reload the page from scratch, the page will look as if it was paused when you click a link to a new page and subsequently resumed when you hit back.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, Chromium, development, google, Tech | Comments (0)

Google partially backtracks on Chrome changes that would break ad blockers

February 18th, 2019

Google has said that it will revise the proposed changes to Chrome's extension API that would have broken or reduced the functionality of a wide range of ad-blocking extensions, to ensure that the current variety of content-blocking extensions is preserved. The initial plans generated a wide backlash from both the developers and users of those extensions, but Google maintains that "It is not, nor has it ever been, our goal to prevent or break content blocking" [emphasis Google's] and says that it will work to update its proposal to address the capability gaps and pain points.

The advertising company is planning an overhaul of its extension interface to, among other things, increase user privacy, make it harder for extensions to perform malicious actions, and make the browser's performance more consistent. Together, this work is documented as Manifest V3.

One of these changes in particular had grave consequences for ad blockers. Currently, ad blockers make extensive use of an API named webRequest. This API allows extensions to examine every single network request made by a page and either modify it (to, for example, redirect it to a different address or add or remove cookies), block it altogether, or allow it to continue unhindered. This has both a substantial privacy impact (an extension can see and steal your cookies and hence masquerade as you) and, Google said, some performance impact, as every single network request (of which there may be dozens in a single page) has to wait for the extension to perform its analysis.

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Posted in ad blockers, chrome, Chromium, development, google, Open Source, Tech, Web | Comments (0)

With experimental “Never slow mode,” Chrome tries to stop Web devs making it slow

February 6th, 2019
The word SLOW has been painted on a street for the benefit of drivers.

Enlarge / Google wants less of this. (credit: Vegansoldier / Flickr)

Since Chrome's very first release, performance has been one of Google's top priorities. But Google is against a competing force: Web developers. The Web of today is a more-complex, bandwidth-intensive place than it was when Chrome was first released, which means that—although Internet connections and the browser itself are faster than they've ever been—slow pages remain an everyday occurrence.

Google engineers have been developing "Never Slow Mode" in a bid to counter this. Spotted at Chrome Story (via ZDNet), the new mode places tight limitations on Web content in an effort to make its performance more robust and predictable.

The exact design and rationale of Never Slow Mode aren't public—the changelog for the feature mentions a design document but says it's currently Google-internal. But taken together, that design and rationale will ensure that the browser's main thread never has to do too much work and will never get too delayed. They will also ensure that only limited amounts of data are pulled down over the network. This should make the browser more responsive to user input, lighter on the network, and a bit less of a memory hog than it would otherwise be.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, Chromium, google, HTML, Open Source, Tech, Web | Comments (0)

Etch a Sketch lives on in browser-based Chrome Labs project

January 10th, 2019
Etch a Sketch lives on in browser-based Chrome Labs project

Enlarge (credit: Rowan Merewood, Twitter)

Everyone who remembers the Etch A Sketch slabs of yesteryear remembers how difficult it was to translate your vision onto its "magic screen," and how proud you felt upon success. Now, Google's Chrome Labs has translated that experience (quite literally) for the digital age with the fun Web A Skeb project. It's a browser-contained version of an Etch A Sketch that you can use to draw and doodle—if you can get the hang of its dials.

Web A Skeb creator Rowan Merewood explained on Twitter that the goal of the project was to create Web-friendly dials. Those in Web A Skeb work just like those on the old Etch A Sketch toys, so you have to learn which direction to "turn" them in to move your strokes up and down or left and right. Currently, only cursors and mice can control the dials on desktop browsers, but greater accessibility is being considered (like using letter or arrow keys to control the dials).

Buttons at the bottom of Web A Skeb let you enter fullscreen mode, "shake" the drawing area to erase your work, and liven up the sketch with shadows and rainbows using the "fancy" and "fanciest" options.

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Posted in browser, chrome, chrome labs, etch a sketch, Gaming & Culture, google, Tech, web a skeb | Comments (0)