Author Archive

Prepare: Google Chrome OS will probably be available for download within a week

November 15, 2009 1 comment

ChromeOSAccording to TechCrunch, Google is slated to launch its own operating system, Chrome OS, in the next week, according to a “reliable source.” Chome OS is going to be based on Linux, and from the looks of these supposed screenshots, has an interface similar to that of Ubuntu. Google has stated that an early release of the operating system will be available in the fall. But Google isn’t really seriously going up against Windows, at least not yet: Chrome OS will be optimized for netbooks, a small slice of the PC market.

When netbooks were first released, various Linux distributions dominated the market, which fed a period of increased growth in UNIX-based systems. Microsoft then made Windows XP licenses available, and manufacturers quickly jumped ship. If Google can gain inroads into the netbook market, maybe we’ll see Linux rein again. And I think that it’s quite possible that dual-platform computers could be shipped.

So, as of right now, with Google’s current focus, Microsoft Windows is not in any serious danger. With Windows 7, which is already up to a 4.5% market share (something that Net Applications and StatCounter agree on), Microsoft will probably snag a large wave of people who want to use a new operating system. Assuming there are 1.6 billion 1.2 billion online users, 55 million people worldwide are already using it. That’s 55 million people that probably won’t use Chrome OS.

We’ll see what kind of hype the launch creates, and if there really will be a large group of people who make the switch. The market adoption of the Google Chrome browser has been relatively poor: despite a giant ad campaign, Chrome has only been able to gain a few percentage points after a year. It took the browser 14 months to gain 30 million users, something Firefox did in 8 weeks. If the Google Chrome browser is not an Internet Explorer killer, I doubt the Google Chrome OS will be a Windows killer.

Categories: Operating Systems

October market share recap: IE loses 1%; Firefox, Chrome, and Safari gain

November 1, 2009 12 comments

According to Net Applications, Internet Explorer lost market share in October, while Firefox, Chrome, and Safari gained, and Opera remained steady. And although not all of the data has been reviewed by the QA team, what was interesting was the fact that Google Chrome gained more than any other browser, with a 0.4% increase, which translates to 6.4 million users, assuming there are 1.6 billion online users. This spike for the browser has also appeared in StatCounter’s data. Firefox gained 0.3%, or 4.8 million users, Safari gained 0.16%, or 2.5 million users, and Opera remained steady, with a 0.03% loss, or 480,000 users. All at the cost of Internet Explorer, which lost 1.02%, which is equal to 16 million users switching. This isn’t as big as last month’s loss of 1.5%, 24 million users, which was IE’s biggest loss ever.

Using this market share data, here are the user counts for the major browsers:

  1. Internet Explorer, 1 billion users
  2. Firefox, 385 million users
  3. Safari, 70.4 million users
  4. Google Chrome, 57.1 million users
  5. Opera, 34.6 million users
  6. Netscape, 5.2 million users
Categories: Web Browsers

5 extremely basic things Internet Explorer is missing

October 28, 2009 1 comment

It really is sad how primitive Internet Explorer still is, compared to the other browsers. From its clunky Trident rendering engine, to its somehow “crowded minimalist interface”, to its tab bar that is filled up with three pages open, not to mention all of the security problems under the hood, as well as its lack of web standards support. But there are still a few things that we all expect web browsers to have, but they’re still not integrated into the world’s most used (and bundled) browser.

1. Spell checking.

All decent word processors have a spell checker, and now that more and more people are composing email, blog posts, tweets, and other pieces of writing online, a web browser should also employ the same feature. And Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera do. The dead Netscape Navigator has it. “WorldWideWeb”, the first, I repeat first, web browser, launched in 1991, had spell checking. So, it seems only fair that the browser bundled with 9 out of 10 PCs worldwide should have it. Sadly, it doesn’t.

2. A download manager.

Download managers are simple pieces of software integrated into web browsers that allow users to view a history of files that they have downloaded. They also let you see what files are currently being downloaded. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera have them, but Internet Explorer does not.

3. Support for SVG images.

A relatively new but already widely supported image format, SVG, a type of vector image format, differs from the leading formats, JPEG, PNG, and GIF, known as raster image formats, in one key way: rather than using pixels to display an image, SVG simply consists of shapes, which can be blown into infinite sizes. Supported by Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera, SVG is a step forward for graphics. It’s too bad Internet Explorer needs an add-on, downloaded separately, to display them.

4. Availability in a wide range of languages.

Internet Explorer is currently available in 33 different languages. That may seem like a lot, but take this into account: Firefox is available in 75 different languages. Google Chrome is available in 50. Epiphany, a Mozilla-powered (soon to be WebKit powered) web browser that comes with some distributions of Linux, is available in 70 different languages. Maxthon, an IE-based web browser that runs on the same layout engine, supports 42 different languages. Opera is available in 40. Safari only supports 14, probably due to the poor reception of Macs outside the United States. Internet Explorer may not be really be completely behind the pack on this one, but a browser included on almost all PCs throughout the world needs to be available in a large number of languages.

5. The ability to be cleanly uninstalled.

Internet Explorer is embedded deep into the Windows operating system, making it almost impossible to completely uninstall. And after facing numerous lawsuits and repeated criticism for that reason, it looks like there’s hope: IE8 can be disabled, but not uninstalled, in Windows 7. This is a step in the right direction, and adding the option to completely uninstall IE might not be optimal, as there is still a significant bias on the web leaning towards Microsoft and Trident.

There may be more to this list, too. If you’ve thought of something that I forgot, be sure to leave it in the comments!

Categories: Web Browsers

And Windows 7 is released!

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

If your reading this, it’s just past midnight Eastern time, and this is the day Windows 7 is slated to launch. I’m not actually awake right now, this is a pre-written post scheduled to be published automatically at 12 AM.

Hopefully, this day will mark the beginning of the end of the Windows XP era, which has gone on way too long: 8 years. But who can blame users, after Vista was such a failure. Although I hate to say it, Windows XP will probably remain dominate for years to come. Internet Explorer 6 is still the most used version of Internet Explorer (sadly), and all that you have to do to get rid of it is spend 5 minutes upgrading. The switch from Windows XP to Windows 7 is a much more complex and lengthy task, and people probably won’t upgrade, they’ll buy new computers when they need them instead.

There’s already some buzz about the launch brewing right now. Who knows how much there will be tomorrow. As a huge wave of people install Windows 7, if they have something to say, Twitter will probably slow to a crawl, as it did in the Balloon Boy episode. I haven’t tried Windows 7 myself, but I’ll probably get to soon.

Congratulations on shipping, Microsoft!

[WG Announcement] Website Graveyard’s 1,000th view! Plus a blog metrics update

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Website Graveyard received its 1,000th view today. I thought I’d celebrate this benchmark by sharing some the statistics on our traffic.

Top posts of all time: Comparison of free antivirus softwares, Review: Firefox 3.5 Beta 4, Panda Cloud Antivirus: the next big antivirus or a failed attempt?, Brink: a TV show on science and technology you might want to check out, and Major web browsers: JavaScript, web standards compatibility, and memory usage tested.

Top referrers: WordPress tag page: “Free antivirus”, Twitter, WordPress tag page: “Firefox 3.5”, What’s new at the Internet Archive, and The Computer Geek’s Diary.

Top search terms used to find posts: “twitter headquarters”, “website graveyard”, “firefox 3.5 screenshots”, “free antivirus comparison”, and “firefox 3.5”.

Published posts: 50. Comments: 14. Votes in polls: 5.

Thanks to everyone who visited this blog.

Categories: WG Announcements

Love Firefox but prefer Chrome’s style? Get Chromifox

September 28, 2009 2 comments

In the past, web browsers have usually had a relatively crowded interface, just look at Opera 5. The UI typically included all of the common web browsing tasks (back, forward, stop, refresh/reload, home) and more (bookmarks, history, print, new window, search, email…).

But now a more minimalist standard is evolving, and it has already been adopted by Google Chrome and Safari. The new type of layout contains only the most basic web browsing tasks in the smallest amount of objects (reload and stop are often the same button). The rest of the options are consolidated into a “tools” or “page” menu. Judging by its adoption, users like this new generation of browser interface.

So here’s the dilemma: you love Firefox, like me, but want Google Chrome’s slick style, instead of the native “Strata” theme. Here’s how you can make Firefox look almost exactly like Chrome…while still being able to use all of your favorite add-ons.

Step 1: Get Chromifox Basic

Chromifox Basic does a good job at converting Firefox’s graphics to look like those of Chrome. But you’ll need to go through a few more steps to make it look¬†truly¬†like Google’s browser.

Step 2: Get Total ReChrome

Total ReChrome (which requires Chromifox Basic) will add some finishing touches to Firefox. It will move the tab bar to the top of the window, and move the star (for bookmarking a page) to the other side of the location bar.

Step 3: Move around a few buttons and get rid of the search bar

First, remove the search bar and home button. Then, remove any add-on buttons that may be on the navigation bar (such as AdBlockPlus, IE Tab, Flashblock…). Drag the “Stop” button to the far right of the screen (don’t worry, it will be merged with the “Go” button).

This is what the finished product should look like:


Versus Google Chrome itself:


Very similar, eh? Have fun!

Categories: Web Browsers

CCK Wizard for Firefox: perfect for companies and organizations

September 26, 2009 1 comment

Firefox has historically received criticism from companies and organizations due to the fact that a customization kit was not available. These tools allow administrators to preload bookmarks, homepages, preferences, plug-ins, and add-ons to the browser, as well as block certain features, such as settings. Being available with Internet Explorer, IE has often been the browser of choice when it comes to businesses. (That and the fact that many businesses run primarily on Microsoft software).

The CCK Wizard for Firefox changes that. This lightweight add-on allows you to create an XPI file that customizes Firefox to your organization’s needs. It does everything I listed above, and more. Replace the native animated circle (shown when a page is loading) with your company’s logo spinning around. Create a web page that only appears when the user opens Firefox for the first time, introducing them to some of the basic features and aspects of the browser. Or a page that appears when Firefox has updated, explaining why this is step is so important. Block the about:config page, which, while it can be used for some advanced tricks, could undermine Firefox’s security and stability when utilized incorrectly. Change the browser’s name, from “Mozilla Firefox” to something like “Mozilla Firefox: Example, Inc Edition” or “Example, Inc Browser.” Add a link to your own support page, blog, or any website in the Help menu.

I’m against “locking down” a browser with the user powerless to change the settings. But if your organization is choosing between Firefox or IE, with plans on partially or completely restricting access to settings, at least opt for a decent browser. The open source community has continued to push products such as Firefox and being used in businesses and non-profits. And they are succeeding. There is currently an effort within the State Department to let members use Firefox. And a popular ad for Firefox titled “Double Click Relief” promoted the use of Firefox in businesses (I’m pretty sure the 1 in 10 statistic is not real).

Anyway, here’s how you can use the CCK wizard to create a customized version of Firefox:

  1. Download and install the add-on at the Mozilla Add-ons for Firefox website.
  2. Once installed, restart your browser. Go to Tools > CCK Wizard.
  3. Create a new file by typing in a name and selecting a locaton.
  4. Begin entering settings. Note: For the update public key, I used “3.5”. I successfully checked for updates but did not install a new update, as I was already running on the latest version. More info.
  5. After completing the wizard, look for the XPI file that was created in the directory you specified. Once you know where it is, in Firefox, go to File > Open File. Locate and select the XPI file, and click Open. Click install on the prompt that comes up.
  6. The next time you open Firefox, it should be running on your customized version.
Categories: Web Browsers