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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.

Do Consumers Have Trust In The Security Behind IoT

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Security outfit Gemalto has just released a survey which says that 90 percent of consumers lack confidence in the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The survey showed that two thirds of consumers and almost 80 percent of organizations support governments getting involved in setting IoT security because they did not trust manufacturers to protect them.

Gemalto Data Protection CTO Jason Hart said it was clear that both consumers and businesses have serious concerns around IoT security and little confidence that IoT service providers and device manufacturers will be able to protect IoT devices and more importantly the integrity of the data created, stored and transmitted by these devices.

“With legislation like GDPR showing that governments are beginning to recognize the threats and long-lasting damage cyber-attacks can have on everyday lives, they now need to step up when it comes to IoT security. Until there is confidence in IoT amongst businesses and consumers, it won’t see mainstream adoption.”

Consumers’ main fear – cited by two thirds of respondents – was hackers taking control of their device. In fact, this was more of a concern than their data being leaked (60 percent) and hackers accessing their personal information (54 percent). Despite more than half (54 percent) of consumers owning an IoT device (on average two), just 14 percent believe that they are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the security of these devices, showing education is needed among both consumers and businesses.

In terms of the level of investment in security, the survey found that IoT device manufacturers and service providers spend just 11 percent of their total IoT budget on securing their IoT devices. The study found that these companies do recognize the importance of protecting devices and the data they generate or transfer with half of companies adopting a security by design approach. Two thirds of organizations report encryption as their main method of securing IoT assets with 62 percent  encrypting the data as soon as it reaches their IoT device, while 59 percent as it leaves the device. Ninety two percent of companies also see an increase in sales or product usage after implementing IoT security measures.

According to the survey, businesses are in favor of regulations to make it clear who is responsible for securing IoT devices and data at each stage of its journey (61 percent) and the implications of non- compliance (55 percent). Almost every organization (96 percent) and consumer (90 percent) wanted government-enforced IoT security regulation.

Encouragingly, businesses are twigging that they need support in understanding IoT technology and are turning to partners to help, with cloud service providers (52 percent) and IoT service providers (50 percent) the favored options. When asked why, the top reason was a lack of expertise and skills (47 percent), followed by help in facilitating and speeding up their IoT deployment (46 percent).

Hart said: “The lack of knowledge among both the business and consumer worlds is quite worrying and it’s leading to gaps in the IoT ecosystem that hackers will exploit.”

“Within this ecosystem, there are four groups involved – consumers, manufacturers, cloud service providers and third parties – all of which have a responsibility to protect the data. ‘Security by design’ is the most effective approach to mitigate against a breach. Furthermore, IoT devices are a portal to the wider network and failing to protect them is like leaving your door wide open for hackers to walk in. Until both sides increase their knowledge of how to protect themselves and adopt industry standard approaches, IoT will continue to be a treasure trove of opportunity for hackers.”

Courtesy-Fud

IoT Botnet Worse Than Mirai Wreaking Havoc On Organizations

October 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Check Point has caught wind of a new IoT botnet that’s “more sophisticated than Mirai” and has already affected at least one million organizations worldwide.

Check Point first unearthed the botnet, codenamed ‘IoT_reaper’, at the beginning of September and claims that, since, it’s already enslaved millions of IoT devices including routers and IP cameras from firms including GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, Avtech, Netgear, MikroTik, Linksys and Synology.

The latest campaign shares similar technical aspects to Mirai but is said to be more dangerous as it is able to “evolve” in order to exploit vulnerabilities in devices connected to the internet, which it then uses to spread the malware to other devices.

The security firm warns that the botnet is “rapidly spreading worldwide” and could soon be weaponized the launch cyber-attacks in the same fashion of Mirai last year. 

Check Point said: “While some technical aspects lead us to suspect a possible connection to Mirai, this is an entirely new and far more sophisticated campaign that is rapidly spreading worldwide.”

“It is too early to guess the intentions of the threat actors behind it, but with previous botnet DDoS attacks essentially taking down the internet, it is vital that organizations make proper preparations,” the team noted.

Check Point says that, so far, it estimates that “over a million organizations have already been affected worldwide, including the US, Australia and everywhere in between.

It expects this number to keep growing, noting that “our research suggests that we are now experiencing the calm before an even more powerful storm. The next cyber hurricane is about to come.”

“It is vital to have the proper preparations and defense mechanisms in place before an attack strikes,” Check Point warns.

This isn’t the first Mirai-like threat that’s been uncovered. Earlier this year, a new threat called ‘BrickerBot’ was revealed, which – as its name suggests – threatened to permanently brick IoT devices, rather than harnessing them to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) network.

Courtesy-TheInq

Are The IoT Botnets Becoming A Problem

October 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A huge botnet which is based around internet of things devices is getting so big it will be able to apply for UN membership and get its version of “Botnet’s got talent”.

Codenamed IoT_reaper, it has swallowed two million devices which are mostly IP-based security cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), and digital video recorders (DVRs).

Chinese security firm Qihoo 360 Netlab and Israeli security firm Check Point have spotted and analysed the botnet as it continued to grow during the past month.

The botnet uses some code from the Mirai IoT malware, but there are also many new things that make the botnet a stand-alone threat.

Mirai scanned for open Telnet ports and attempted to log in using a preset list of default or weak credentials.

Reaper does not use a Telnet scanner, but primarily uses exploits to forcibly take over unpatched devices and add them to its command and control (C&C) infrastructure.

Netlab says that IoT_reaper primarily uses a package for nine vulnerabilities: D-Link 1, D-Link 2, Netgear 1, Netgear 2, Linksys, GoAhead, JAWS, Vacron, and AVTECH. Check Point also spotted the botnet attacking MicroTik and TP-Link routers, Synology NAS devices, and Linux servers.

Netlab experts say the botnet is in its incipient stages of development, with its operator adding as many devices to the fold as possible.

Check Point and Netlab point out that IoT_reaper did not launch any DDoS attack, but Reaper comes with a Lua-based execution environment integrated into the malware that allows its operator to deliver modules for various tasks, such as DDoS attacks, traffic proxying, and other.

Reaper’s Lua core also comes embedded with 100 DNS open resolvers, a functionality that will allow it to carry out DNS amplification attacks.

The FBI and Europol warned about the dangers of leaving Internet of Things devices exposed online, but the world does not seem particularly concerned that their lightbulbs could take part in an attack on the power grid.

Courtesy-Fud

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

Can The IoT Market Grow By 30 Percent YoY

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Internet of Things (IOT) platform market is expected to grow 35 percent annually to $1.16 billion by 2020, according to Verizon’s State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017 report.

The report finds that the biggest growth will be in business-to-business applications which can generate nearly 70 percent of potential value enabled by IoT.

More than 73 percent of executives either researching or currently deploying IoT. Manufacturing, transportation and utilities make up the largest percent of investments, while insurance and consumers represent the fastest areas of spending growth.

Currently there are 8.4 billion connected “things” in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and network technology, cost reductions and regulatory pressures driving adoption, business leaders are not only paying attention, they’re getting in the game the report said.

While the opportunity for revenue growth is the biggest factor driving IoT adoption, regulatory compliance remains a driving factor behind enterprise IoT implementation. Standards, security, interoperability and cost make up over 50 percent of executive concerns around IoT. These uncertainties are holding businesses back from full IoT deployment, with many still in proof-of-concept or pilot phase.

Early adopters seem focused on proving out simple use cases to track data and send status alerts, just starting to realize the full value IoT has to offer in driving growth and efficiencies across business, the report said.

The report’s author Mark Bartolomeo, VP of IoT Connected Solutions at Verizon said: “Over the past year, industry innovators in energy, healthcare, construction, government, agtech and beyond have not only piloted, but in many cases, deployed IoT technology to improve business inefficiencies, track and manage assets to drive value to the bottom line. In 2017, advancements in technology and standards, coupled with changing consumer behaviours and cost reductions, have made IoT enterprise-grade, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg in driving economic value across the board.”

Courtesy-Fud

Are Tougher Security Standards For IoT Forthcoming

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

US Senators are planning to introduce draft legislation next week that would require makers of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to ensure that their products are patchable and conform to industry standards for security.

The legislation is a bi-partisan effort led by Democratic Party senators Mark Warner and Ron Wyden, and Republicans Steve Daines and Cory Gardner.

Although relatively modest in scope, the legislation represents a first step to requiring device makers to start taking responsibility for the security of products connected to the internet. “We’re trying to take the lightest touch possible,” Warner told Reuters.

He added that the legislation was intended to remedy an “obvious market failure” that has left device manufacturers with little incentive to build with security in mind.

It echoes thinking from security specialists such as Bruce Schneier, who have suggested that sensible, rather than heavy-handed legislation is required to push device makers to improve the security of their products.

In November last year, following the Mirai malware attacks that compromised chronically insecure internet-connected CCTV systems, Schneier wrote: “The technical reason these devices are insecure is complicated, but there is a market failure at work…

“The teams building these devices don’t have the security expertise we’ve come to expect from the major computer and smartphone manufacturers, simply because the market won’t stand for the additional costs that would require.

“These devices don’t get security updates like our more expensive computers, and many don’t even have a way to be patched. And, unlike our computers and phones, they stay around for years and decades… Like pollution, the only solution is to regulate,” wrote Schneier.

The draft legislation was put together with help from IT specialists from the Atlantic Council and Harvard University. It would also expand protection for security researchers to hack equipment with the purpose of finding vulnerabilities.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is Intel Abandoning The IoT Arena

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

For ages Intel has been banging on about the Internet of Things and how it will be the saviour of the chip business.

It seemed that Intel, having been too late to take advantage of the mobile boom, wanted to be in place when the Internet of the Things arrived.

However, Intel of late, appears to be withdrawing some of its enthusiasm. It is discontinuing its Galileo, Joule, and Edison lineups of development boards. The chip maker quietly made the announcement and now appears to be letting 130 people go from its IoT teams.

Intel plans to lay off 97 people at its corporate headquarters in Santa Clara and up to 40 more in Ireland as the chipmaker makes cuts to its Internet of Things group.

Intel’s IoT group provided $721 million in revenue in the first quarter of the year, up nearly 11 percent from the prior year. But IoT accounted for less than five percent of Intel’s sales.

Curiously, Intel hasn’t yet scrapped Curie, its platform for wearable devices. But given that the wearable market is at a standstill, it might not be long before Intel exits this market segment too.

But it is looking like Intel is falling back to its default PC/Server chips and has no plan to do anything else.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Add More Life To The IoT

July 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has doubled the lifecycle support for its whole series of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions platforms from seven years to 15 years.

The move is part of a cunning plan to gain the confidence of its partners in the IoT supply chains and step up the development of IoT-related processor platforms and chipsets.

This will push up Intel’s operating costs, but it might just convince supply-chain partners and accelerate development of IoT solutions and applications.

Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft are all fighting in the IoT market and are making deals or seeking mergers and acquisitions to stay ahead.

Intel’s IoT platform lifecycle support program announcement is expected to effectively boost the willingness of its partners to use Intel IoT solutions gear and expand its global IoT platform penetration rate.

All Intel IoT solutions platforms, including next-generation 14nm Skylake-SP server and processor platforms, existing Skylake-architecture Xeon E3-12xx/15xxv5 series, and the sixth-generation Core, Pentium and Celeron processors will see their lifecycle support extended to the range of seven to 15 years from the existing maximum of seven years.

In addition, processor platforms recording higher shipment records, including N3700 (Braswell), Celeron N3xxx (Braswell) and J1900/N2xxx (Bay Trail), as well as Atom C2xxx (Rangeley), E3800 series (Bay Trail) are all covered by the new lifecycle support program.

IoT solutions products have yet to contribute notable profits to Intel. In the first quarter of 2017, Intel made $721 million in IoT-related revenues, showing an annual growth of 11 percent.

Courtesy-Fud

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.

Mozilla To End Firefox’s Aurora Preview Track

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla has announced it will discontinue one of Firefox’s preview tracks that have allowed users to test early versions of the browser before wider deployment.

Companies running Firefox, and testing the browser using the “Aurora” track, will be automatically migrated to the “Beta” channel today.

“It became clear that Aurora was not meeting our expectations as a first stabilization channel,” wrote Dave Camp, director of engineering for Firefox; Sylvestre Ledru, the browser’s release manager; and Ali Spivak, head of developer marketing, in a post to a Mozilla blog.

Mozilla has offered multiple versions of each Firefox edition since 2011, when it began offering four builds — Nightly, Aurora, Beta and Release — each of which was supposed to be more stable than the previous.

“We have more modern processes underlying our [release] train model, and believe we can deliver feature-rich, stable products without the additional 6-8-week Aurora phase,” said Camp, Ledru and Spivak.

In that “train” approach, Mozilla added a new feature to the least stable version, Developer, then when the feature was ready, moved it to the next track, Aurora. As development progressed, the feature would shift to Beta and then finally to Release.

But Mozilla acknowledged that the system had sometimes failed. “The release cycle time has required that we subvert the model regularly over the years by uplifting new features to meet market requirements,” the company admitted in an accompanying FAQ, referring to times when it has had to skip one of the tracks or shorten the time a feature spent on one.

Firefox users on the Aurora channel were to be moved to Beta today, according to the FAQ. Aurora will not be updated after tomorrow, when Firefox 53 is to ship in final, or Release, form.

With Aurora’s disappearance, Mozilla will rely on Beta for the first widespread distribution of each edition of Firefox. To make up for Aurora’s absence, each beta will be rolled out in stages, just as Release has long been, with the idea that if major problems crop up, they do so early on and thus affect only a subset of customers before the spigot is turned off.

Aurora’s elimination will not increase the frequency of Release builds issued or decrease the time between each Release version; the latter will continue to range from six to nine weeks. Nor will the already-slated dates for future versions of Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) change. That edition, designed for enterprises and other large organizations, remains stable for approximately a year. Much like Windows 10’s LTSB (Long-term Servicing Branch), ESR receives only security updates.

Ditching Aurora, however, will let Mozilla move a new feature from inception to final about six to eight weeks faster than before.

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