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Microsoft drives IE9 to stay relevant in Browsers

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on December 28, 2009

Microsoft has been the dinosaur of the Browser kingdom, but then as with the worthy comparison, Microsoft’s vice grip of the browser markets is loosening out. The latest report of market shares shows 65% share for IE. Mozila Firefox has scaled upto to 25% market share. Android and Safari are small at 4%, but Android atleast is making the right kind of noises and moves and is radically redefining the Browser markets. The Internet Explorer needs to keep up and IE9 seems to be Microsoft’s bet in the new age of browsers.


Whats new with IE9?

Hardware accelerated text and graphics.

The acceleration feature takes advantage of hitherto untapped computing power in a way that’s more useful than other browser-boosting technology–Google’s Native Client to directly employ PC’s processor and Mozilla’s WebGL for accelerated 3D graphics. This is a direct improvement to everybody’s usage of the Web on a daily basis. Web developers are doing what they did before, only now they can tap directly into a PC’s graphics hardware to make their text work better and graphics work better

An increasing fraction of Microsoft’s business is moving online, too, through its Bing, Live, and now online Office 2010 sites and Microsoft is trying to consciously migrate consumers to the cloud. The task is to build a better IE so all the Web sites have a better experience. Microsoft has recently joined the HTML standards effort. Microsoft uses the Direct 2D, which is a hardware-accelerated, immediate-mode, 2-D graphics API that provides high performance and high-quality rendering for 2-D geometry, bitmaps, and text. Direct2D also facilitates a technology called sub-pixel positioning that can smooth the appearance of text on the screen.

With the old technology, that chore can update the screen at a rate of about 5 to 10 frames per second while using 50 to 60 percent of the processor’s horsepower, but using the Direct2D method, the frame rate jumps to a range of 40 to 60 per second while the CPU usage plunges.

Another is the execution of JavaScript, a programming language used widely on the Web for everything from mundane tasks to full-on applications such as Gmail and Google Docs. However, JavaScript isn’t the only bottleneck for browsers. Browser is also an important aspect of the whole internet speed experience.

Microsoft:Difficult moving ahead of IE 6 and XP

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on August 19, 2009

Microsoft has the likes of Linux, Apple, Google, Mozilla as competition on the OS and browser fronts. However, if July figures of browser market shares from net applications are to be believed, Windows XP and IE6 are the biggest threats to Microsoft! In them, Microsoft deals with an Operating System and Browser that refuse to die (much to Microsoft’s discomfort)!microsoft_logoMS is all the way up-to IE8 and IE8 is splashing around as the safest amongst browsers (Read here). However it is IE 6 launched in 2001, that remains the leader in browser markets. MS is not amused by the mass of people who refuse to give up IE6.

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There are a number of reasons Microsoft isn’t happy with the IE 6 holdouts. First is that they might be easily swayed to Firefox.

  • IE 6, after all, is so ancient that it doesn’t even use tabs. It’s clearly inferior to any modern browser. Put it next to Firefox, and anyone would want to switch. IE 8, by way of comparison, stacks up well to the most recent versions of Firefox.
  • In addition, Microsoft has built features into the latest version of IE 8, such as Web slices, that are translatable into increased traffic to Microsoft or Microsoft partners, which in turn translates into cash. The more people that stay with IE 6, the less revenue for Microsoft.
  • Beyond that, developers have gotten so sick of having to maintain their sites for IE 6, that they may eventually simply stop supporting it. That could clearly be disastrous for Microsoft. In fact, developers are so fed up with IE 6 that a group of developers have formed a group called ie6nomore as a way to try and get people to leave the ancient browser behind.
  • As for Windows XP, that presents an even more serious problem. Every consumer and every enterprise that doesn’t upgrade from XP represents money being taken out of Microsoft’s pocket. The problem goes beyond people who don’t upgrade their existing PC. There are plenty of XP users who won’t buy new PCs because they don’t want to give up XP. So it’s not just upgrades that Microsoft is losing out on, but new sales as well.

 A little scratching behind the surface throws up interesting insights on how MS is unable to chain the twin monsters it had fostered so long. Microsoft caused this turmoil and now they have to deal with it.

Microsoft Vista and Windows 7 are poor excuses for wasting a total of nine years in development. The results are a dozen versions of the same OS that “eats resources like dinosaur eats leafs, has a performance of a Yugo, but generate costs that rival a custom made Maserati”. Even the innovations haven’t been exciting really: A UAC that covers up the still present security holes and Aero that doesn’t work on most systems.

IE6 has been around for a long time, because Microsoft wanted it so. XP will be around for a long time, because Microsoft didn’t produce anything after XP that is worthwhile to use. Microsoft is about to make itself irrelevant out of lack of user understanding and lack of innovation. 9 years of inaction after XP and IE6, relentless versions of the same old XP and IE and a failure with Windows Vista has made customers extremely skeptical about incremental innovation at Microsoft, so much so that there is a reluctance to trust Microsoft’s promises with the Windows 7! It is reasonable to expect that with thousands of developers, millions of dollars spent, and nine years of development time Windows Vista would perform drastically better than XP on the same hardware. That has clearly not been the case with Windows Vista! Users are unwilling to pay for the same performance that he is currently getting with XP. The argument being that after so many years after XP came out, Microsoft couldn’t write an OS that is better than it, but they have not been able to. This could be a hurdle with acceptance of Windows 7 as well. Microsoft needs to watch out!

We’ll have to wait until October and beyond to see whether Windows 7 can solve one of Microsoft’s biggest problems — its aging operating system and browser and jump start its innovativeness in product philosophy!

Is Internet Explorer 8 the safest browser?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on August 18, 2009

Tests by NSS Labs comparing popular browsers for their ability to block web sites pushing malware and phishing have put IE 8 on the top of the other 4 browsers tested: Apple Safari 4, Google Chrome 2, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 10 Beta.

Safety Browser

While the modest 80’s is a good score compared to the others, it still isn’t enough to make up for a secure net browssing experience. Even if it were 100% (not a realistic possibility) the protection is but one layer in a well-designed system of defense-in-depth. One would still have to use anti-malware protection, DEP, ASLR and up-to-date patches on the system as just some others.

The details of these tests, however do show that Microsoft updates its lists much more efficiently than others, 3 of who use the Google Safe Browsing API. At the end, it’s not just the API that matters, but also about how you use it.

So for once, this is “One up” for Microsoft!

Ref:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2351669,00.asp

IE-free Windows coming to Europe: Microsoft bows to pressure

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on June 14, 2009

Reproduced from http://software.silicon.com/os/0,39024651,39441298,00.htm
Countering pressure from European regulators, Microsoft plans to ship the newest version of its Windows operating system in Europe without its Internet Explorer web browser.
The abrupt reversal comes shortly before the European Commission is due to rule on antitrust charges brought against Microsoft in January, claiming that the world’s largest software company abuses its dominant position by bundling its Internet Explorer browser, shielding it from head-to-head competition with rival products.
Until now, Microsoft has claimed that the browser was an integral part of the operating system and should not be pulled out, but it now plans to do that for a European version of Windows 7, due to be rolled out later this year.
Microsoft deputy general counsel, Dave Heiner, said in a blog post on the company’s website on Thursday: “Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users.”
European regulators, which had suggested Microsoft offer a choice of browsers on its operating system to open up choice for consumers, gave a frosty response.
The European Commission said in a statement reacting to Microsoft’s move: “Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a web browser at all.
“Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less.”
The Commission is still weighing whether Microsoft’s bundling of the browser has been abusive, and what sanctions to bring as a result. It is still possible that the Commission will force Microsoft to include other browsers with its operating system, a move the company has been determined to avoid.
Microsoft’s move could yet be a boon for competing browser makers such as Google, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software, whose complaints spurred the European Commission case against Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser is used for about 60 per cent of global internet traffic, Mozilla’s Firefox has about 30 per cent, and Opera is at four per cent, just ahead of Google and Apple’s Safari, according to web analytics firm StatCounter.

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