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Google Blocks YouTube On Amazon Devices

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A growing public spat in the technology industry escalated even further when Google said it would block its video streaming application YouTube from two Amazon.com Inc devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.

The feud is the latest in Silicon Valley to put customers in the crossfire of major competitors. Amazon and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Google Home and Amazon Echo Show.

 The stakes are high: many in the technology industry expect that interacting with computers by voice will become widespread, and it is unclear if Amazon, Google or another company will dominate the space. Amazon’s suite of voice-controlled devices has outsold Google’s so far, according to a study by research firm eMarketer from earlier this year.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said. “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon said in a statement, “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

It said it hoped to resolve the issue with Google as soon as possible but customers could access YouTube through the internet – not an app – on the devices in the meantime.

The break has been a long time coming. Amazon kicked the Chromecast, Google’s television player, off its retail website in 2015, along with Apple Inc’s TV player. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon.

Amazon and Apple mended ties earlier this year when it was announced Prime Video would come to Apple TV. Not so with Google.

 In September, Google cut off YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show, which had displayed videos on its touchscreen without video recommendations, channel subscriptions and other features. Amazon later reintroduced YouTube to the device, but the voice commands it added violated the use terms and on Tuesday Google again removed the service.

The Fire TV loses access to its YouTube app on Jan. 1, Google said. Amazon has sold that device for longer than the Echo Show, meaning more customers may now be affected.

Microsoft, Mozilla User Share Falling, Says Recent Report

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge browsers fell last month in user share as the once-universal programs ran on just one in every six personal computers worldwide.

According to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications, the user share of IE and Edge – an estimate of the world’s personal computer owners who ran that browser – plummeted by 3.3 percentage points to end November at 16.3%. The decline was the largest ever for Microsoft’s browsers.

Mozilla’s Firefox also stumbled badly last month, losing nearly 2 of its hard-won percentage points, slipping to 11.4%, its lowest user share since October 2016.

These numbers, and more importantly the fact that IE+Edge’s and Firefox’s numbers sank to such a degree, is striking. But it was as much a data reset by Net Applications as proof of massive user desertions.

As it has periodically, Net Applications has reworked how it tracks browsers, operating systems and other metrics of interest to online businesses. In a message appended to a refreshed analytics display, Net Applications explained that it had rewritten its “entire collection and aggregation infrastructure to address” out-of-whack data.

The culprit? Bots, said Net Applications. These software-based tools often are deployed by criminals, who program their automated scripts to mimic human online behavior, perhaps in an attempt to cash in on an ad click fraud scam.

“Bots can cause significant skewing of data,” admitted Net Applications. “We have seen situations where traffic from certain large countries is almost completely bot traffic. In other countries, ad fraudsters generate traffic that spoofs certain technologies in order to generate high-value clicks. Or, they heavily favor a particular browser or platform.”

While some may want to blame the large shifts in browser user share on Net Applications’ scouring its data of bot traffic, that would be the wrong move. “Please note: This dataset is separate from and replaces the legacy data,” the company said, making clear that it had gone back into past data too, not just November’s, and eradicated the numbers it ascribed to bots.

Under the new methodology, for example, IE+Edge in October was 16%, or 3.6 points lower than Net Applications called the pair using the older, bots-plagued data. Using the new-only data, IE+Edge actually edged up (no pun intended) by about two-tenths of a percentage point. Likewise, Firefox was at 11.7% in October under the new scheme, but 13.1% under the old. (Firefox’s drop, then, was about three-tenths of a percentage point during November.)

Assuming that the new methodology cleaned out all or most of the dodgy bot-driven traffic from Net Application’s data, the bottom line is that the numbers now portray IE+Edge, and to a lesser extent, Firefox, in less flattering lights. Microsoft’s browsers have deteriorated to a point unthinkable just two years ago, when they ran on more than half the world’s personal computers. And Firefox’s climb back from a near-death experience in 2016 has not been as impressive as the data once showed.

Also of interest were the new data points for Edge and IE calculated against only Windows personal computers. Because both browsers run only on Windows devices, it has been possible to surmise their share on that platform alone. Of all Windows 10 users, just 13.2%, a record low, ran Edge in November (Edge only runs on Windows 10). As recently as March, Edge’s share of Windows 10 had been around 22%.

IE’s share of 18.4% of all Windows PCs was slightly better than Edge’s, but like its successor, IE’s November mark was an all-time low. At the start of 2016, IE’s Windows-only share was a more respectable 28.5%.

Yahoo Out, Google In For Firefox Corporate Browser

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google picked up a previous location as the default search engine on Mozilla Corp’s Firefox Internet browser in the United States and other regions as the browser maker stunned Verizon Communication Inc’s Yahoo by canceling their deal.

Google confirmed the move but declined, along with Mozilla, to disclose revenue-sharing terms of the multiyear agreement. Google’s growing spending to be the primary search provider on apps and devices such as Apple Inc’s iPhone has been a major investor concern.

 Google will be Firefox’s default search provider on desktop and mobile in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer.

The decision was “based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search and the broader content experience for our users,” Dixon said. “We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search.”

Verizon said Mozilla terminating the Yahoo agreement caught it off guard.

“We are surprised that Mozilla has decided to take another path, and we are in discussions with them regarding the terms of our agreement,” said Charles Stewart, a spokesman for Verizon’s Oath unit, which oversees Yahoo.

The search provider switch came as Mozilla announced Firefox Quantum, a faster, new version of the browser that company says is “30 percent lighter” than Google Chrome in that it uses less computer memory.

For a decade until 2014, Google had been Firefox’s worldwide search provider. Google then remained the default in Europe while regional rivals such as Yahoo, Russia’s Yandex and China’s Baidu Inc replaced it elsewhere.

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer won a five-year contract with Mozilla in 2014 when Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser were battling for users.

 Chrome’s U.S. market share has since doubled to about 60 percent, according to data from analytics provider StatCounter, with Mozilla, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp browsers capturing the rest.

Yahoo paid Mozilla $375 million in 2015 and said that it would pay at least the same amount annually through 2019, according to regulatory filings.

Yahoo and Google aim to recoup placement fees by selling ads alongside search results and collecting valuable user data. Google said in October that contract changes drove a 54 percent increase in such fees to $2.4 billion in the third quarter.

 

Mozilla Revamps Firefox For iOS Devices

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla has rolled out a revamped Firefox for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, debuting the new look that will also grace the more popular desktop version of the browser next week.

Firefox for iOS version 10, which is available in the App Store, features the same user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) that will also mark Firefox 57 for Windows, macOS and Linux, when it ships Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Derived from an ongoing project tapped as “Photon,” the Firefox UI/UX mimics the minimalism of other browsers, notably Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge, with reduced clutter at the top of the window that includes combined address and search bars.

Firefox for iOS 10’s other changes range from a revamped menu under the three-lined “hamburger” icon at the upper right to a recast new tab display, with the latter replicating the desktop browser’s design.

But most of the drum-thumping that Mozilla has done for what it has billed as “Firefox Quantum” – the alternate name for the upcoming Firefox 57 – is simply moot, and muted, on iOS.

That’s because, like all browsers allowed into the App Store, Firefox for iOS is, at root, Safari, because Apple mandates that rivals rely on the same WebKit rendering and Nitro JavaScript engines used by its own Safari. Firefox on iOS, as is Chrome on the iPhone and iPad, is little more than a different UI wrapper around iOS’s default browser.

That leaves competitors able to credibly compete only on a UI basis, and on the argument that it’s more productive to use the same browser on both mobile and desktop.

So, Firefox on iOS cannot boast the same speed improvements that mark Firefox Quantum on personal computers – Mozilla said Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox of a year earlier – nor will the iPhone and iPad browser be able to offer the future additions Mozilla envisions for its desktop browser, among them a graphics processor-enhanced renderer.

Apple’s long-standing rule conceivably has multiple fathers, but the most important to Apple, certainly, is that it precludes anyone gaining a performance edge over Safari, which Firefox might if Mozilla were allowed to use its own under-the-hood technologies. Minus performance differences, there are few reasons for switching.

Apple’s position has paid off.

While Microsoft has seen its browsers’ share tank on the far-more-open Windows – in October, Internet Explorer and Edge accounted for 19.7% of all Windows browsers, down from 52% just two years earlier – Apple has kept its users close, and on Safari. According to Irish analytics vendor StatCounter, 92% of all browsing activity on iOS in October was via Safari. In the U.S., Safari’s percentage on iOS was a slightly higher 95.3%.

Another metrics vendor, U.S-based Net Applications, pegged Safari’s worldwide user share on iOS at 89.2%. (Those percentages from StatCounter and Net Applications were only possible to calculate because Safari runs only on iOS.)

 

Opera Browser Now Supports Virtual Reality

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Opera desktop browser was revamped with social media capabilities earlier this year, but the updates didn’t end there.

The latest update adds VR support to the multifaceted browser, letting you stream 360-degree videos to your HTC Vive or Oculus headset, as well as any OpenVR devices. It’ll also let you edit screenshots, add emojis and take selfies with your laptop camera.

The feature-packed update comes as Opera plays catch up to Chrome, Safari and Firefox, and the new features are part of the company’s plan to rethink and modernize the browser as part of its Reborn project.

While tracking site Statcounter says Opera’s market share is just 3.89 percent globally in October, Opera is reporting rosy numbers. It claims to have seen double-digit growth in 2017, with active monthly users increasing by 25 percent year-on-year. The company says use of its desktop browser has grown by 65 percent in the US, 64 percent in France and by 50 percent in the UK.

Other features previously added include built-in browser support for chat services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and VK. Unit conversions were also added in a September update, making it easier to figure out time zones, miles to kilometers and more.

Windows 7 Still Microsoft’s Most Popular OS

November 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Windows 7 lost a few more users last month as its share of the overall Windows universe slipped a bit closer to 50%.

But if the veteran operating system were a person, it would be that party guest who stayed well past welcome, lingering long after everyone else has left, after the hosts have, in fact, gone to bed. And there Windows 7 would sit, talking without a listener, making itself at home, feet up on the coffee table.

According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s user share in October was 46.6%, a decline of six-tenths of a percentage point. More notable during these times of migration, the operating system ran 51.4% of all Windows machines during the same stretch, a month-to-month drop of seventh-tenths of a point. (The second percentage is larger because Windows was detected on 90.8% of the world’s PCs, not 100%; the remainder ran macOS or a Linux flavor.)

October’s decline was only half that of September, but was still the third largest of 2017.

The continued weakening of Windows 7’s user share – five months of declines and counting – is a promising sign, as the operating systems faces a deadline: Microsoft has set Windows 7’s retirement for Jan. 14, 2020, now little more than 26 months away. The faster Windows 7 relinquishes its user share, the less the chance that businesses will find themselves running unpatched, and thus, vulnerable, machines. No one wants a repeat of the panicky last few months of Windows XP’s lifespan, when companies blew through IT budgets scrambling to purge the obsolete OS.

Yet Windows 7 remains behind the pace set by XP . With 26 months to go before its April 2014 retirement, XP accounted for 49.4% of all Windows PCs, or two points lower than Windows 7’s share in October. Things could be worse: In August, Windows 7 was three points behind XP’s tempo. But the lack of progress in matching XP’s slide toward irrelevance must be disheartening to Microsoft, which continues to sing Windows 10’s praises, and even assert that Windows 7 is not only old and tired, but simply not up to the tasks required of it.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 did see a bump in user share last month of two-tenths of a point, ending October at 29.3%. When only Windows systems are counted, its share of that pool was 32.8%, within shouting distance of the one-in-three milestone. Computerworld calculated that, with the 12-month trend in Net Applications’ data, Windows 10 should pass the 33.3% line during December.

Google’s Brass Fixates On Cheeseburger Emoji

October 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google’s technical achievements are well known : Google Search, Google Maps, the Pixel 2 XL. And yet, it doesn’t seem to know the simple formula for assembling a cheeseburger.

The company’s problematic approach to making up everyone’s favorite meaty sandwich was pointed out on Twitter by writer Thomas Baekdal, who noted that in Google’s version of the cheeseburger emoji the cheese sits underneath the patty. Quelle horreur!

Fortunately, Google immediately put its top man on the job. Company CEO Sundar Pichai, retweeted the image posted by Baekdal on Sunday, promising: “will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday.”

Great, you might think, that’s that taken care of. But not quite. Pichai will make the fix on one condition: “if folks can agree on the correct way to do this.” This suggests that he himself is not quite sure where the cheese should go in the order and seems to think it’s open to debate, which it obviously is not.

Let us help you out here, Sundar. The cheese goes on top of the meat. On the top.

FireFox Quantum Browser Coming In November

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

After being stuck in the slow lane for ages, Mozilla’s new Quantum browser is starting to look like it might be faster than Chrome.

A beta version of Firefox Quatum lets you test whether Mozilla’s newly named web browser, replete with changes built over more than a year, is a match for Google. We had a quick look and it managed to make Fudzilla’s esoteric CMS machine go like the clappers. Opera on the other hand keeps on insisting that it needs a password for every screen.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard claims that the new browser is a “big bang” although we suggest that probably means he needs to get out more. Company executives have acknowledged they let Firefox languish but now it is ready to do better with its life.

Firefox 57 is faster at starting up and loading web pages, judged on page-load speed, “Firefox Quantum is often perceivably faster” while using 30 percent less memory, Nguyen said in a blog post Tuesday. And it’s twice as fast as Firefox a year ago.

The new Firefox revamp includes Quantum Flow, which stamps out dozens of performance bugs, and Quantum CSS, aka Stylo, which speeds up website formatting. Photon that kills Firefox’s rounded tabs and adds a “page action” menu into the address bar. It also builds in the Pocket bookmarking service Mozilla acquired and uses it to recommend sites.

All up, it does not appear too bad. The phrase “at bloody last” crosses my mind. It still needs its acid test – whether or not it can handle Mrs Farrell’s shopping, which for some reason requires 105 open tabs which must never be closed unless you want to be divorced.

Firefox Quantum will arrive in its final form on November the 14th.

Courtesy-Fud

CloudFlare To Launch Service To Protect Against Against DDoS Attacks

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Cloudflare is making protection against DDoS attacks free, regardless of how bad they are and claims that soon that method of bringing down a website will be history.

For those who came in late, Cloudflare is one of the bigger internet security firms and it wants to kill off distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks . The company announced Monday that every customer—including those who only use its free services—will receive a new feature called Unmetered Mitigation, which protects against every DDoS attack, regardless of its size.

Now every website can fight back against DDoS attacks for free. Previously, customers who bought less expensive plans from Cloudflare, or another security firm, were still vulnerable to larger scale DDoS attacks. Now, Cloudflare will use its resources to help everyone fight an attack, regardless of how much they pay.

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the standard practice in the industry for some time has been to charge more if you come under attack and will fire you as a customer if you’re not sort of paying enough and you get a large attack.

Prince said that Unmetered Mitigation has the power to render DDoS an activist tool of the past.

Prince sees the playing field of DDoS attacks as fundamentally uneven. “We should not create a system of vigilante justice where a single individual—because they are upset with someone—can shut them down,” he said. “What we are trying to do is say ‘regardless of what your resources are, we will keep you online.'”

He told Motherboard: “We can now absorb anything that the internet throws at us,” he said. DDoS attacks are going to become “something you only read about in the history books”.

Courtesy-Fud

VMWare, Google Partner Up Over Chrome Devices For The Enterprise

August 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

VMware’s AirWatch subsidiary has teamed up with Google to enable unified end-point management (UEM) of all Chrome OS devices in an enterprise.

Through VMware Workspace ONE’s cloud portal, IT admins will be able to manage Chrome devices in their company alongside all other endpoints from a single console.

Among other things, IT managers will be able to perform a number of tasks including on-boarding employees; provisioning, auditing and tracking hardware; device wiping; and securing access to personalized enterprise app catalogs.

With new enterprise-ready capabilities from Chrome Enterprise License, companies will also be able to control device policies using a customizable assignment of groups based on geography, device platform, department, and employee role. The goal is to simplify policy enforcement across an enterprise, VMware said.

“The consumerization of the enterprise has left IT managing multiple operating systems on a variety of devices – some provided by the business and others brought in by employees,” said Sumit Dhawan, general manager of End-User Computing at VMware. “As Chrome OS continues to gain momentum, our customers are eager to manage these devices consistently along with all other endpoints, including mobile devices.”

Through Workspace ONE, VMware AirWatch users will also be able to securely manage the lifecycle of Chromebooks, Dhawan added.

In March, VMware’s AirWatch announced a partnership aimed at accelerating the adoption of Chromebooks by enhancing existing application accessibility of the devices through VMware Workspace ONE. That collaboration enabled one-click secure authentication and management of apps – cloud, web and virtual – for organizations deploying Chromebooks.

While it’s an industry first in terms of the Google partnership, VMware’s move to enable UEM highlights a larger trend as the enterprise mobility management (EMM) software market quickly consolidates. As a result, tools for provisioning, configuring and securing mobile devices are being subsumed into larger product suites.

Google’s Chrome Exploring Strengthen Of Ad-blocking In Browser

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has included a built-in ad blocker to earlier version of Chrome, signaling that it will assume responsibility for barring some online ads in the polished product as early as October.

The ad blocker appeared in some users’ copies of the “Canary” build of Chrome last week; Canary is the name Google gives to the preliminary version of the browser, one that is updated nightly and precedes the three-step release process of “Dev,” “Beta” and finally “Stable” code.

Chrome’s ad blocker was present only in Windows’ Canary build; it was AWOL from the macOS edition.

Reports of Google’s ad-blocking plans first surfaced in April, shortly after the Coalition for Better Ads announced a set of online ad types that users in the U.S. and Europe said were the most annoying and disruptive. Google was a founding member of the coalition. Two months ago, Google confirmed that it would introduce ad blocking to Chrome, saying then that the target timetable was next year.

“We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018,” Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, a product management executive, wrote in the Google post.

On the desktop, Chrome will block pop-up advertisements; ads that automatically begin playing both video and audio; “prestitial” ads accompanied by a countdown clock that appear before content is shown; and what the coalition dubbed “large sticky ads,” those that account for more than 30% of the screen space and which remain in place no matter how much the user scrolls.

Those and other types of ads will also be blocked by Chrome on Android- and iOS-powered mobile devices.

Ads will be blocked by site, not by individual advertisement. In other words, Google will craft a list of websites it contends “tend to show intrusive ads,” and then block the ad categories that violate the coalition’s “standards.” A stray “bad” ad displayed by a site not on the list, however, will not be blocked.

While Google has pegged 2018 as the launch of the baked-in ad blocker, the tool may debut sooner. The current Canary of Chrome is version 62, which according to the release schedule, will release in final form as the Stable build on Oct. 17 for personal computers, Oct. 24 for mobile.

Google’s Mobile App Gets New Look, Feel

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google has announced a re-tooling of its search app on mobile phones to include a personalized feed of links about hobbies, travel, sports and other topics, a move that puts the search company into more direct competition with social networks such as Facebook.

Google, the world’s largest search engine and a unit of Alphabet Inc, said the changes would begin rolling out in the United States on Wednesday and other countries in the coming weeks.

The new offering is called “Google Feed,” a name that may conjure comparisons to Facebook’s “News Feed,” a feature on Facebook used to browse updates from friends, family and other sources.

Google said, however, that it was not trying to duplicate Facebook Inc, the world’s largest social network. Instead, the company said it wanted to create another place to see a stream of relevant search results.

“This feed is really about your interests … It’s not really about what your friends are interested in,” Ben Gomes, a Google vice president for engineering, said in a briefing with reporters.

Typical updates might include a link to a website with tips about an upcoming vacation spot, or a link to a page about cycling or another hobby, the company said.

Facebook and Google are jockeying for attention online and by extension, for advertising revenue based on those eyeballs. The two Silicon Valley companies are expected to take in some 50 percent of overall online ad spending in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer.

There were no immediate plans to include advertising in Google Feed, Gomes said.

Google Feed will suggest links based on a user’s Google search history as well as data from other Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Calendar, the company said.

In addition to putting Google Feed on mobile apps, the company is looking at attaching it to web browsers in some form, Shashi Thakur, a second Google vice president for engineering, said during the briefing.

Microsoft’s Edge Browser Continues Its Free Fall

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s browsers last month continued their downward spiral, again shedding a significant amount of user share, an analytics company reported today.

According to data from California-based Net Applications, the user shareof Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge — an estimate of the proportion of the world’s personal computer owners who ran those browsers — fell by nearly a full percentage point in May, ending at a combined 23.2%.

May’s decline was the largest since January, and could signal a resumption of the precipitous plunge IE and Edge experienced in 2016, when the browsers lost more than 22 percentage points, almost half their total share at the start of that year, and ceded the top spot to Google’s Chrome.

Microsoft’s problem, as it has been since mid-2015, stemmed from two factors: A persistent decline in the demoted-to-legacy IE, which was expected after the launch of Windows 10, and the inability, to put it mildly, for Edge, 10’s default browser, to make up the difference. The second was certainly not in Microsoft’s projections.

In the last 11 months, IE’s share dropped by 41%, while Edge’s increased by only 11%. On its own, IE has been under the 20% mark since January, and fell to a new low of 17.6% in May. Meanwhile, Edge stayed flat for the fourth month in a row at 5.6%. All of those ingredients cooked up a debacle.

Projections of the IE + Edge combination hint at an even uglier future. IE and Edge could fall under 20% as soon as this month, and likely by no later than December, according to the 12- and three-month trends in the data.

Although Microsoft has aggressively touted Edge, the effort has not yet paid off. Last month, just 21% of all Windows 10 users ran Edge as their primary browser, down from 29% a year earlier. Some analysts, however, expect Edge to turn toward a larger share of Windows 10 once enterprises seriously start migrating corporate PCs to the new OS, and, more importantly, when they divest themselves of the legacy web apps and intranet sites that require workers to run IE alongside a “modern” browser, like Edge.

May’s biggest beneficiary was Chrome, which added four-tenths of a percentage point to its user share, reaching a record 59.4%. Computerworld‘s forecast — again using the trends in Net Applications’ data — puts Chrome over the 60% bar by August at the latest.

Mozilla’s Firefox, which in the first quarter of 2017 lost four-tenths of a percentage point, recouped half of that last month, climbing to 12%, its highest mark since December.

Net Applications estimates user share by sniffing the browser agent strings of those who visit its clients’ websites, then tallying the various browsers and operating systems. It also weights each country’s data by the size of its online population to account for areas, such as China, where it lacks large numbers of analytics customers.

 

Mozilla Rolls Out Improved Version Of Firefox

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla continued its years-long campaign to make Firefox more technologically competitive with the competition, Google’s Chrome in particular, by boosting performance, increasing stability and reining in memory consumption.

The open-source developer also patched 31 security vulnerabilities, three of them rated “Critical,” the firm’s most serious ranking.

Firefox 54, released June 13, expanded on Mozilla’s multi-process project, code-named “Electrolysis” (shortened to “e10s”), that since 2009 has tried to mimic Chrome, and separate the browser’s operation into more than one CPU process. Previously, Firefox split its user interface (UI) and all content into separate processes — running all tabs in one of those processes — to prevent the browser from completely crashing when a website or web app failed. Firefox 54 uses up to four processes to run the browser’s tabs, assigning each to one of the CPU buckets.

“By separating the tabs into separate processes, we make better use of the hardware on your computer, so Firefox can deliver you more of the web you love, with less waiting,” assured Nick Nguyen, the product lead for Firefox, in a post to a company blog. In the same piece, Nguyen bragged that version 54 was “the best release of Firefox ever.”

Because operating multiple processes bloats a browser’s memory consumption, and also because Firefox pre-e10s was extensively criticized as a RAM pig, Nguyen asserted that version 54 uses “significantly less RAM” than rivals such as Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Edge. Elsewhere, Ryan Pollack, a product marketing manager at Mozilla, argued that the four-process limit is the correct compromise between low and high memory use. He even cited the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale to declare that the balance between performance (lots of processes) and memory consumption (few processes) is perfect.

“Firefox uses four content processes because it’s the ‘just right’ number for many Firefox users,” said Pollack. “With four content processes, your computer should have plenty of memory left to run apps besides Firefox.”

Chrome has relied on a multi-process model since its 2008 launch. Because it devotes a separate process to each tab, and each process requires memory, Chrome generally consumes much more memory than other browsers. (Safari uses a similar, but not identical, multi-process model that ultimately eats less RAM than Chrome. Edge, too, uses multiple processes.) So, it wasn’t surprising that Pollack compared Firefox 54’s memory appetite primarily to Chrome’s, and charged that in a 30-tab test the latter required up to 2.4 times the RAM of Firefox.

Users with devices boasting larger amounts of RAM — more than 8GB, Pollack said — can boost the number of processes Firefox 54 consumes by typing about:config in the browser’s address bar, then changing the number for the dom.ipc.processCount setting.

While e10s has been a focus of Mozilla engineers for two years, the project also illustrated how far Firefox had fallen behind other browsers, notably Chrome but even, in areas, Edge. Mozilla has suffered several massive defeats in recent years, including a drubbing over mobile operating systems and a lesser beating from a stab at in-browser advertising. Lately, it has rededicated itself to Firefox, but the jury remains undecided, with some, including a former CTO, maintaining that the browser has no chance of unseating Chrome.

Last month, Firefox accounted for 12% of all browsers used worldwide, about a fifth of the share owned by Chrome and half that of a combined Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge. That May number was the highest of the year so far, but it was also nearly identical to Firefox’s share of 24 months earlier, showing how mired the browser had become.

EU Court Tackles ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Again

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The “right to be forgotten” – or prohibiting certain web search results from appearing under searches for people’s names – will be debated at the European Union’s top court after Alphabet Inc’s Google refused requests from four individuals.

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people’s names – dubbed the “right to be forgotten”.

Google has since received over 720,000 removal requests and accepted about 43 percent of them, according to its transparency report.

Four individuals who had asked Google to remove links to webpages about them appealed to the French data protection authority after the search engine company refused their request.

The French privacy regulator, the CNIL, agreed with Google’s decision, prompting the individuals to take their case to the French Conseil d’Etat, France’s supreme administrative court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based ECJ.

The ECJ “now has to decide whether ‘sensitive personal data’ — such as the political allegiance of an individual, or a past criminal conviction reported in the press — should always outweigh the public interest”, Google’s senior privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blogpost.

“Requiring automatic delisting from search engines, without any public interest balancing test, risks creating a dangerous loophole. Such a loophole would enable anyone to demand removal of links that should remain up in the public interest, simply by claiming they contain some element of sensitive personal data.”

A Conseil de’Etat statement said the requests from the individuals concerned a video that “explicitly revealed the nature of the relationship that an applicant was deemed to have entertained with a person holding a public office”; a press article on the suicide of a member of the Church of Scientology mentioning that one of the applicants was the public relations manager of that church; several articles related to criminal proceedings of an applicant; and articles about the conviction of another applicant for having sexually abused minors.

The French court said a number of “serious issues” had arisen with regard to the interpretation of European law in the case before it.

“Such issues are in relation with the obligations applying to the operator of a search engine with regard to web pages that contain sensitive data, when collecting and processing such information is illegal or very narrowly framed by legislation, on the grounds of its content relating to sexual orientations, political, religious or philosophical opinions, criminal offences, convictions or safety measures,” the court said.

The CNIl declined comment at this point of the court procedure.

The case number is C-136/17. A date for the hearing has not been set.

“We will be advocating strongly for the public interest balancing test to apply to all types of delisting requests—including those containing sensitive personal data,” Fleischer said.

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