All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

15 Jun 12 Google To Release Chrome Beta for Windows 8 Testing


Google To Release Chrome Beta for Windows 8 Testing

The test browser is just for the x86/x64 Windows 8 Release Preview, where it can run in both the desktop and Metro user interfaces of the operating system.

Google has announced that its Chrome browser will be available for testing on the Windows 8 Release Preview. The company plans to smooth out the user interface of the browser over the next couple of months, and will be seeking user feedback.

The test browser is just for the x86/x64 Windows 8 Release Preview, where it can run in both the desktop and Metro user interfaces of the operating system. While Windows 8 will be available on ARM-based tablets, the ability to run any other browser besides Internet Explorer on that OS, known as Windows Runtime, appears to be restricted by Microsoft.

The Chrome test browser will be released at the Google Chrome dev channel for Windows, according to Google’s blog post, which didn’t specify when.

WinRT ‘Won’t Run’ Other Browsers
Google and Mozilla, which is also devising its Firefox browser for Windows 8, have both complained publicly that their browsers will not have access to the WinRT APIs necessary for their browsers to work as users would expect. Google went farther in its blog announcing the Chrome beta for Windows 8, by stating that its browser won’t run at all on WinRT.

“Chrome won’t run in WinRT, i.e. Windows 8 on ARM processors, as Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer on the platform,” Google’s blog states.

An attorney with Mozilla suggested last month that Microsoft could be veering into possible antitrust litigation turf with the restrictions of WinRT. He cited Microsoft’s past antitrust supervision by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission. Those bodies have faulted Microsoft for restricting API access and dominating the browser market via a Windows monopoly.

Microsoft hasn’t clarified the WinRT browser restriction matter publicly. While it has published a guide for a “Metro style enabled desktop browser” (Word doc) that software companies can use to build browsers for Windows 8, it appears that this guide only applies to x86/x64 systems, and not to WinRT systems.

The latest test version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 browser is called “platform preview 6.” It was distributed with the Windows 8 release preview that Microsoft announced at the end of last month. This new IE 10 version comes with Adobe Flash Player 11.3 built into the browser for use on both the desktop and Metro user interfaces. (Microsoft made no mention about whether its own Silverlight would similarly be supported in IE 10.). Another new aspect of IE 10 is that Microsoft’s “do not track” privacy option, first introduced in IE 9, is turned on by default.

Disagreement on Do Not Track
The do-not-track issue has been kicked around by all of the browser makers, with little effect. Microsoft’s method depends on Web advertisers voluntarily honoring a request to not track user clickstream information. It’s just a technical solution, as there’s nothing legally binding on advertisers to behave in the proper way. Microsoft’s do-not-track approach sends an HTTP string to indicate preference, a method that’s currently under consideration at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Microsoft’s embrace of having a do-not-track mechanism turned on by default in the latest IE 10 has caused some controversy. It apparently conflicts with the current W3C working draft, according to a Wired report. The W3C appears to be leaning toward the idea of not enabling do-not-track functionality by default, which could put IE 10 out of compliance once the spec becomes a W3C recommendation.

In response, Brendon Lynch, Microsoft’s chief privacy officer, noted in a Friday blog post that the draft hasn’t been finalized yet and that Microsoft plans to work on it with various stakeholders “in the months ahead.” He didn’t acknowledge that Microsoft may be going against the evolving spec with IE 10 on the do-not-track issue, but he suggested that Microsoft would stay engaged in “good faith” efforts.

“As discussions continue, Microsoft remains firmly committed to defining bona fide technical specifications and policies to govern DNT [do not track],” Lynch wrote in the blog post.

Mozilla’s also has a do-not-track approach for its Firefox browser that apparently uses a similar method as Microsoft’s approach. The Mozilla do-not-track system has been used by 8.6 percent of desktop users and 19 percent of mobile users, according to a May 17 Mozilla blog post.

Google has its own antitracking approach for Chrome called “Keep My Opt-Outs.” The Keep My Opt Outs method apparently works through a cookie opt-out procedure, but just for U.S. advertisers. The approach is vaguely described by Google here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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28 Apr 12 Microsoft Inks Android Patent Agreement with Pegatron


Microsoft Inks Android Patent Agreement with Pegatron

With the Pegatron deal in process, Microsoft claims to have rolled up agreements with nearly all of the Taiwan-based original design manufacturers.

Microsoft has signed a patent agreement with Taiwan-based device manufacturer Pegatron Corp. over its use of Google Android and Chrome software.

With the Pegatron deal in process, Microsoft claims to have rolled up agreements with nearly all of the Taiwan-based original design manufacturers (ODMs).

“With this agreement, Microsoft has now licensed four of the top five Taiwanese ODMs,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft, in a statement.

The announcement issued this week by Microsoft stated that Pegatron will pay Microsoft royalties under the agreement, which covers “eReaders, smartphones and tablets running the Android or Chrome platforms.” By “Chrome platforms,” Microsoft has in the past been referring to Google Chrome OS, the cloud-based operating system, rather than Google Chrome, the Web browser. However, Microsoft’s announcement did not provide clarification on the matter.

Taiwan-based Pegatron describes itself as a design and manufacturing service that was founded in January of 2008. It makes computer equipment, set-top boxes, TVs, wireless systems and game consoles.

Mobile Patent Wars

Last year, Gutierrez claimed that Microsoft had signed intellectual property licensing agreements with “more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices.” This year, Microsoft claimed that it had inked intellectual property deals with manufacturers covering 70 percent of all Android devices that are sold in the United States.

Microsoft’s attorneys have generally claimed that use of Linux operating systems in products violates 235 of Microsoft’s patents, without specifying what those patents are. One by one over the years, Microsoft has sought intellectual property licensing deals with hardware device makers using Linux. Many equipment makers have signed the agreements and didn’t go to court to dispute Microsoft’s claims. Exceptions include Barnes Noble, which is defending intellectual property claims against its Nook e-reader devices and Motorola.

Microsoft isn’t the only litigant in these patent wars centering on mobile device software technologies. Apple too is an active litigant suing companies using Linux operating systems. Those legal actions have put a crimp on Google’s plans of leveraging mobile devices for its search advertising business. Google fostered the Linux-based Android mobile OS that is used in various hardware devices by manufacturers, which don’t pay royalties to Google to use it.

Xbox In the Sights

Google is in the process of acquiring Motorola Mobility to bulk up its patents portfolio for legal defensive reasons. Even though Google’s proposed purchase hasn’t yet cleared regulatory approvals, the acquisition bid appears to be raising alarms with Microsoft and Apple, particularly over Motorola’s interpretation of standards-essential patents use rights. Supposedly, these sorts of patents are to be made available on “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory” (FRAND) terms so that all organizations using standards-based technologies can operate, but it’s apparently somewhat of a gray area as to what that exactly means.

Motorola currently wants 2.25 percent of Microsoft Xbox gaming console net sales as royalties for its patents, which are associated with wireless LAN and H.264 video codec standards-based technologies. Microsoft and Apple have separately complained to the European Commission, claiming Motorola (and potentially Google) is abusing FRAND principles by its demands.

Microsoft recently got a reprieve against a potential injunction against Xbox sales in Germany, where the litigation is continuing. Meanwhile, a U.S. International Trade Commission court found this week that Microsoft is violating four of five Motorola Mobility patents with Xbox. That finding could lead to a U.S. ban on the importation of Xbox devices unless Microsoft pays royalties to Motorola, according to a Bloomberg story.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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