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20 May 12 Five ways to avoid Windows 8


You don't have to get on Windows 8 s Metro ride.

You don’t have to get on Windows 8′s Metro ride.

Some people are still sure Windows 8 is going to be the cat’s meow. I’m sure Windows 8 and its Metro interface will be more like a cat’s yowl of pain. The more I look at Metro, the more I’m sure that Microsoft’s new desktop will flop as badly as the Facebook IPO.

It’s not just me. Business analysts, who could care less about technology but care a lot about what customers think, are saying things like “Windows 8 will prove to be a disappointment.

Windows users who were already unhappy about having to learn Metro, which doesn’t work or look a thing like Vista and Windows 7’s Aero interface never mind XP’s familiar appearance, are finding out there’s more trouble ahead for them. Windows 8 will cost more at launch to upgrade to from Windows 7. DVD playback and media-center functionality will now be an extra-price option.

Oh as for Metro-friendly applications, here’s what Matthew Baxter-Reynolds, an independent software development consultant, speaker, author, and trainer and all around Windows guru who’s writing the book “Programming Windows 8 Apps with C#” had to say: “does Metro actually work? In my opinion: No.”

I don’t care if your most prized possession is an autographed copy of Bill Gates’ The Road Ahead, you have got to be wary of moving to Windows 8. So what can you do to avoid, or at least delay, the day you have to start using it?

1. Stick with Windows XP

OK, so your PC is getting a little older, but it’s still working isn’t it? According to some estimates, most PC users are still using XP. Certainly hundreds of millions of users are still using it. If it’s not broke, why fix it?

Well, there is one reason: On April 8, 2014, Microsoft says it will officially end support for XP–and Office 2003 while they’re at it. Of course, Microsoft has extended XP’s life support before. Today, they swear they wouldn’t do it again. But, if say 20% of users still have XP running in their PCs in 2014… well let’s just say I won’t be surprised if Microsoft has a change of heart.

2. Stick with Windows 7 or move to it

So, let’s say its 2012’s holiday season and all the new PCs are coming out with Windows 8, what do you do? You don’t ask, you demand, Windows 7 instead.

Yes, I’m a Linux guy, but if you really want Windows, and I know most of you do, Windows 7 SP 1 is easily the best version of Windows to date. Yes, it’s not the same as XP. There is a learning curve. On the other hand, while it’s not as safe as Linux, Windows 7 is a lot more secure than XP. There are also plenty of useful, easy to-use tools to move your XP data and applications to Windows 7.

3. Move to a Linux or Mac Desktop

Since Microsoft wants to force a radical change on you, why not really make a change and move to Linux or a Mac? The Linux desktop is great for both power users and for users who just need a computer for the basics. Specifically, I think XP users will find Linux Mint with the Cinnamon interface to be inviting. And, Ubuntu 12.04’s Unity interface is much easier to use than Metro. Heck, my 80-year old mother-in-law is a successful Ubuntu user!

Macs, of course, are Macs. They’re pricy, you’re locked into Apple’s hardware and software in ways that Steve Ballmer can only dream about, and, and, gosh they’re pretty and easy to use. Well, easy to use so long as you do exactly what Apple thinks you should be doing anyway.

4. Move to the cloud with Google’s Chrome OS.

Chrome OS hasn’t really caught on yet, but I think Google’s Chrome OS is a real alternative to Windows for many users. It’s not so much Chrome OS itself, it’s the whole concept of being able to use a Web browser and the cloud for everything you need to do and that you want to do instead of a fat client desktop operating system.

Think about what you’re doing today. Web-browsing, e-mail, IM, VoIP, maybe using Google Docs, whatever, how much of that actually requires that you use a local application? If 99% of what you’re doing on your computer can be done on the Web, what more than you really need than the Chrome Web browser, or-and there’s the point–an operating system like Chrome OS, which is just the Chrome Web browser running on a barebones Linux structure?

5. Use an iPad or Android tablet instead.

Microsoft really wants people to switch to Windows 8, and its close cousin Windows RT smartphones and tablets. I’m not holding my breath. I actually think Windows 8/Metro on Intel actually makes sense–Windows RT, which doesn’t have Active Directory support, not so much. Metro looks and works better on a tablet than it ever will on a desktop. There’s just this one little problem: People love iPads and they’re getting fonder of the Android tablets with their lower price tags. If I were a Microsoft fan, I’d worry if there’s any room left in the market for a Windows 8 tablet.

At the same time, as Microsoft is painfully aware, tablets are becoming popular as desktop replacements. As ZDNet’s own James Kendrick points out, “It is now possible to get a full day’s work from almost anywhere, without compromise,” on a tablet.

So, come the day you go to a Best Buy and all you see is Windows 8 PCs from one end of the store to the other, just remember you do have other, better, options.

Related Stories:

No Windows 8 DVD playback will mean increased costs, and consumer confusion

Windows 8 will “disappoint”: Analysts cut price targets on HP, Dell

Windows 8 Pro upgrade for new PC buyers set at $14.99

Windows 8’s five biggest enemies

Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival

Article source: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/five-ways-to-avoid-windows-8/11007

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18 Apr 12 Chrome for Android beta adds key features, broadens global availability


Last February, Google launched the first version of its Chrome Web browser for Android 4.0, undoubtedly one of the most significant applications that could be released for Android. While it was received with great fanfare, I said it was still far too early to call it a real winner due to a few missing features.

Tuesday, Google issued a major update to the young browser that added a few of those features, significantly advancing Chrome for Android against its competition.

Some of these features include: the ability to change the user-agent string and set the browser to default to desktop versions of sites, the ability to add Chrome bookmarks as homescreen shortcuts, the ability to pick which installed applications handle Chrome links, and the ability to use Chrome with the system proxy configured in Android settings.

With this beta, Google has also made Chrome for Android available everywhere that Google Play is available, and in a total of 31 different languages.

Chrome for Android Beta (0.18.4409.2396) can be downloaded in Google Play.

Article source: http://betanews.com/2012/04/17/chrome-for-android-beta-adds-key-features-broadens-global-availability/

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16 Apr 12 Feature: Hands-on: getting work done with Google’s new Aura interface for …


Google attempted to introduce a new approach to computing when it first launched Chrome OS in 2010. The operating system consists of little more than a fullscreen Web browser perched atop a rigorously-hardened Linux environment. The platform makes some unusual trade-offs, eschewing conventional native applications in exchange for bulletproof security and low-maintenance stateless computing.

Although the unique approach that Google is pursuing with Chrome OS offers some intriguing benefits, the platform hasn’t inspired enthusiasm in consumers. It offers limited functionality and a poor user experience compared to more conventional alternatives. Chrome OS in its current state is simply too alien and too restrictive to appeal to a mainstream audience. But that’s about to change in a major way.

Google is readying the next iteration of Chrome OS, which promises to remedy the deepest deficiencies of the wayward Web-centric software platform. A new user interface layer called Aura, which offers many improvements over the current Chrome OS software environment, has reached the testing stage.

Although Aura is still a work in progress, Google recently made it available through the Chrome OS developer channel, making it possible for advanced users to obtain it on Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebooks. That particular laptop is the model that Google and Samsung gifted to Google I/O attendees (including me) last year.

I decided to put Aura to the test on my Series 5 and see if the changes are comprehensive enough to boost the product’s viability for day-to-day use. After several days of testing, I’ve found it to be a significant improvement. Chrome OS still has some serious limitations that are intrinsic to its Web-only focus, but Aura has gracefully corrected the most significant problems with Chrome OS usability.

The new Chrome OS desktop environment

Updating

The Chrome OS platform and Web browser are updated over the air with Chrome’s standard update mechanism. Much like the Chrome Web browser on conventional desktop computers, Chrome OS uses a channel system that gives advanced users the option of using prerelease builds. This feature is accessible through the About dialog in the Web browser.

Aura is currently only available through the developer channel, which provides unstable builds for testing experimental features. When I enabled the developer channel, the system performed a full update and prompted me to reboot. After the reboot completed and I logged back in, I was treated to my first hands-on experience with Aura.

Adjusting the Chrome OS update channel

Window management

Chrome OS was originally designed to be nothing but a fullscreen browser window. The user could create multiple windows and switch between them, but only one window was visible at a time. Some critical Web browsing features, such as the ability to snap off tabs and drag tabs between windows, were not supported.

Google has abandoned the single-window model in favor of a conventional window management system that behaves similarly to the ones found in existing desktop computing platforms. The user gets the traditional stack of overlapping windows that can be moved and resized as desired. In addition to the window manager, the Aura desktop environment also includes a task management panel at the bottom of the screen.

Overlapping windows on the Chrome OS desktop

The environment is pleasantly predictable and offers few surprises. Existing computer users will find it intuitive and easy to grasp. During the first hour of use, I rarely found myself wondering how to take advantage of its features. It seems to pose a much less jarring transition for new users than the previous iteration.

The window titlebars are semitransparent with a slight blur. The bottom panel is completely invisible unless the user drags a window behind it, at which point it gains a translucent tint. The general design is reminiscent of Microsoft Aero Glass.

Individual windows can be resized by dragging any of their borders or corners. When your cursor hovers over a window edge, a shaded line appears and the cursor changes to indicate that resizing is possible. You can move a window by clicking and dragging the titlebar. I was a bit disappointed to find that it doesn’t let you drag by holding alt and clicking anywhere in the window, a feature that can be found in the vast majority of Linux window managers.

In addition to borrowing the Aero aesthetic, the Aura window manager also supports Aero snap. Dragging a window to the left or right edge of the screen will cause it to snap into place and fill the associated half the screen. This feature is convenient when you want to view two browser windows side-by-side.

In a nod to tiling window managers, Google has implemented a nice feature that lets you resize two snapped windows together. When you have two windows on the screen positioned next to each other, hovering the cursor over the border between them will cause a special dragging handle to appear.

When you drag that handle to the left or right, it will simultaneously increase the width of one window while reducing the width of the other in a way that corresponds. It’s sort of like having two windows that are joined together with a single splitter between them, as you would have in a tiling window manager such as Ion.

Resizing two snapped windows

Every window has two buttons in the titlebar: an X button that closes the window and a square that can be clicked to cause the window to maximize. The maximize button has a few other tricks up its sleeve, however. If you click and hold the maximize button, you can drag it to the left or right to snap the window to one edge of the screen or the other. You can also click and drag the maximize button down, which will cause the window to minimize.

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/reviews/2012/04/hands-on-getting-work-done-with-googles-new-aura-interface-for-chrome-os.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

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16 Apr 12 Feature: Hands-on: getting work done with Google's new Aura interface for Chrome OS


Google attempted to introduce a new approach to computing when it first launched Chrome OS in 2010. The operating system consists of little more than a fullscreen Web browser perched atop a rigorously-hardened Linux environment. The platform makes some unusual trade-offs, eschewing conventional native applications in exchange for bulletproof security and low-maintenance stateless computing.

Although the unique approach that Google is pursuing with Chrome OS offers some intriguing benefits, the platform hasn’t inspired enthusiasm in consumers. It offers limited functionality and a poor user experience compared to more conventional alternatives. Chrome OS in its current state is simply too alien and too restrictive to appeal to a mainstream audience. But that’s about to change in a major way.

Google is readying the next iteration of Chrome OS, which promises to remedy the deepest deficiencies of the wayward Web-centric software platform. A new user interface layer called Aura, which offers many improvements over the current Chrome OS software environment, has reached the testing stage.

Although Aura is still a work in progress, Google recently made it available through the Chrome OS developer channel, making it possible for advanced users to obtain it on Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebooks. That particular laptop is the model that Google and Samsung gifted to Google I/O attendees (including me) last year.

I decided to put Aura to the test on my Series 5 and see if the changes are comprehensive enough to boost the product’s viability for day-to-day use. After several days of testing, I’ve found it to be a significant improvement. Chrome OS still has some serious limitations that are intrinsic to its Web-only focus, but Aura has gracefully corrected the most significant problems with Chrome OS usability.

The new Chrome OS desktop environment

Updating

The Chrome OS platform and Web browser are updated over the air with Chrome’s standard update mechanism. Much like the Chrome Web browser on conventional desktop computers, Chrome OS uses a channel system that gives advanced users the option of using prerelease builds. This feature is accessible through the About dialog in the Web browser.

Aura is currently only available through the developer channel, which provides unstable builds for testing experimental features. When I enabled the developer channel, the system performed a full update and prompted me to reboot. After the reboot completed and I logged back in, I was treated to my first hands-on experience with Aura.

Adjusting the Chrome OS update channel

Window management

Chrome OS was originally designed to be nothing but a fullscreen browser window. The user could create multiple windows and switch between them, but only one window was visible at a time. Some critical Web browsing features, such as the ability to snap off tabs and drag tabs between windows, were not supported.

Google has abandoned the single-window model in favor of a conventional window management system that behaves similarly to the ones found in existing desktop computing platforms. The user gets the traditional stack of overlapping windows that can be moved and resized as desired. In addition to the window manager, the Aura desktop environment also includes a task management panel at the bottom of the screen.

Overlapping windows on the Chrome OS desktop

The environment is pleasantly predictable and offers few surprises. Existing computer users will find it intuitive and easy to grasp. During the first hour of use, I rarely found myself wondering how to take advantage of its features. It seems to pose a much less jarring transition for new users than the previous iteration.

The window titlebars are semitransparent with a slight blur. The bottom panel is completely invisible unless the user drags a window behind it, at which point it gains a translucent tint. The general design is reminiscent of Microsoft Aero Glass.

Individual windows can be resized by dragging any of their borders or corners. When your cursor hovers over a window edge, a shaded line appears and the cursor changes to indicate that resizing is possible. You can move a window by clicking and dragging the titlebar. I was a bit disappointed to find that it doesn’t let you drag by holding alt and clicking anywhere in the window, a feature that can be found in the vast majority of Linux window managers.

In addition to borrowing the Aero aesthetic, the Aura window manager also supports Aero snap. Dragging a window to the left or right edge of the screen will cause it to snap into place and fill the associated half the screen. This feature is convenient when you want to view two browser windows side-by-side.

In a nod to tiling window managers, Google has implemented a nice feature that lets you resize two snapped windows together. When you have two windows on the screen positioned next to each other, hovering the cursor over the border between them will cause a special dragging handle to appear.

When you drag that handle to the left or right, it will simultaneously increase the width of one window while reducing the width of the other in a way that corresponds. It’s sort of like having two windows that are joined together with a single splitter between them, as you would have in a tiling window manager such as Ion.

Resizing two snapped windows

Every window has two buttons in the titlebar: an X button that closes the window and a square that can be clicked to cause the window to maximize. The maximize button has a few other tricks up its sleeve, however. If you click and hold the maximize button, you can drag it to the left or right to snap the window to one edge of the screen or the other. You can also click and drag the maximize button down, which will cause the window to minimize.

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/reviews/2012/04/hands-on-getting-work-done-with-googles-new-aura-interface-for-chrome-os.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

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12 Apr 12 Requirements: Google Chrome


Google Reader and Gmail are two of the most customizable Web apps available today. Need a different inbox layout? Sure thing. Want to change the colors or visual density? No problem. Still, some interface elements, like the Google Bar at the top of the window, will never go away, no matter what you do. If you wish they did, try free Chrome extension Minimalist for Everything.

Minimalist for Everything screenshotEach module can contain numerous interface elements which you can easily remove, no coding needed.Using user-side JavaScript and CSS (cascading stylesheets) to customize websites is not a new idea. Greasemonkey and Stylish have been around for years, and some browsers now support user styles and user scripts natively. There are many such scripts and styles, each letting you tweak a certain website or group of websites. But they are not easy to customize: For example, the dark Tumblr stylesheet turns the Tumblr control panel dark, but it comes with just that particular color scheme. To configure it, you need be familiar with CSS, and then unpack and edit its compressed code. Not something most of us do for fun.

Minimalist for Everything brings a new level of refinement to the scene. Instead of an all-or-nothing proposition, now you can decide how much of a user style you want to apply. The add-on ships with modules for Google Reader and Gmail, which you can use turn on and off bits of the interface without writing any code. For example, maybe you want to hide Google’s legal disclaimer from the footer, or maybe you want the Gmail search bar, but not the search button. Just find the right checkbox, tick it, and you’re done. The interface is very friendly, and it’s easy to find just the part you want to hide.

Minimalist for Everything CSS/JavaScript screenshotModules can contain both CSS and JavaScript, for complete control over the Web app being customized .But what if you hide the top Google bar, only to discover you do use it now and then? No problem–hover over the top of the window and click the grey bar that appears: The Google bar will pop down. The two styles that ship with Minimalist for Everything contain many such collapsible elements, ideal for netbook computers and small displays.

To get this level of flexibility, user stylesheets and scripts need to be written specifically for the Minimalist for Everything add-on. If you’re not a Web developer, you will probably just use the two modules that ship with the add-on. But if you are familiar with CSS and JavaScript, you can use the add-on’s built-in tools for authoring new modules. There are no built-in debug facilities yet so writing the right CSS selectors can be tricky, but it took me about five minutes to create a module that selectively hides elements from the YouTube sidebar.

Minimalist for Everything screenshotMinimalist for Everything currently has only rudimentary export/import functionality.You can also use Minimalist for Everything to install “regular” user styles, but then you don’t get the level of configuration the add-on can offer for its own modules. The biggest missing piece in the Minimalist for Everything puzzle is an online repository that would let users exchange modules. Such a website would surely foster a thriving community of modders and customizers. Until that happens, Minimalist for Everything remains a powerful way for Chrome users to unclutter Google Reader and Gmail.

Note: The Download button takes you to the Chrome Web store, where you can download the latest version of the software.

–Erez Zukerman

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/253625/make_web_apps_more_manageable_with_minimalist_for_everything.html

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31 Mar 12 Google Chrome 18 has its fair share of fixes


Google has just rolled out their latest version of the Chrome Web browser, bumping up the version number to 18. Of course, since this is the latest version of the extremely popular Web browser, you can be sure that there will be plenty of fixes introduced to the final release, giving you an extremely pleasant user experience. It seems that up to 9 security glitches were fixed and included in the updated Adobe Flash Player, delivering the capability for the software to update itself automatically. “Silent updates“, we call those. Out of the 9 bugs which were addressed in Chrome version 18, three of them have been rated as high-priority, which means an attacker brilliant enough is capable of exploiting those flaws in order to gain control of a particular infected system. Good money fixes such holes, as Google actually forked out $12,000 to independent researchers in order to identify and report such bugs. Have you updated to Chrome 18.0.1025.142 yet? Perhaps you might want to do so, where it will also come with the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

Related articles:
Better graphics on Chrome
Google Chrome for Windows 8 Metro UI also in development
Google Chrome browser exploited, hacker gets $60,000 reward

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Article source: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2012/03/google-chrome-18-has-its-fair-share-of-fixes/

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30 Mar 12 Chrome 18 arrives with hardware-accelerated Canvas


Version 18 of the Chrome Web browser has rolled out to the stable channel. The new version includes hardware-accelerated rendering for the HTML5 Canvas element on Windows and Mac OS X.

As we have recently reported, standards-based Web technologies provide an increasingly capable platform for game development. The major browser vendors are working to further increase the viability of open standards for browser-based gaming. Offloading Canvas rendering to the GPU helps reduce the CPU load of 2D games and improves performance. The feature has been available in Chrome for quite some time, but it’s now finally enabled by default.

Hardware-accelerated Canvas rendering is only available on systems with compatible graphics hardware. You can get some information about what features in Chrome have hardware acceleration enabled on your system by navigating to the “chrome://gpu” URL.

Another key open standard that is relevant for gaming is WebGL, which provides JavaScript APIs for rendering 3D content in the Canvas element. In Chrome 18, Google has introduced a software-based backend for WebGL based on TransGaming’s SwiftShader. This will make it possible for users to view WebGL content on computers that don’t have compatible graphics hardware. Although it will open up WebGL content to more users, the software-based renderer doesn’t offer comparable performance to native hardware-accelerated WebGL.

In addition to these improvements, the Chrome developers have also been working to make various security improvements based on vulnerabilities that were exposed during the Pwnium competition. For more details about the Chrome 18 release, you can refer to the official release announcement. The software is available for download from Google’s website.

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/03/chrome-18-arrives-with-hardware-accelerated-canvas.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

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30 Mar 12 Google releases Chrome 18, fixes 9 bugs


Google has released the newest version of its Chrome Web browser, and in the process fixed nine security glitches and folded in the updated Adobe Flash Player that allows users to set the software to update automatically.

Of the nine bugs addressed in Chrome version 18, three were rated high-priority, meaning an attacker could exploit the flaws to gain control of an infected system. Google paid independent researchers a total of $12,000 to identify and report the bugs.

In Chrome 18 — the full title is 18.0.1025.142 — Google also included the newest version of Adobe Flash Player, which enables users to receive automatic silent software updates.

Along with the security upgrades, Google Chrome 18 is built to enable faster and sharper graphics. If you’re already using Chrome, click on the wrench icon in the top right corner of your browser and select “About Google Chrome.”

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46896361/ns/technology_and_science-security/

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16 Mar 12 Google Chrome’s Pwnium Contest Makes The Web A Safer Place


Google Chromes Pwnium Contest Makes The Web A Safer Place

Google began a competition called Pwnium last week that tasked hackers to find exploits on its Chrome Web browser. We reported how one Russian student had won $60,000 for his hack.

The Google Chrome security team posted on Chrome blog that the total payout in the last week for Pwnium is now up to $120,000. They were paid out to two submissions, one of which came from Sergey Glazunov. Google was able to roll out updates to patch these security flaws within 24 hours of being exploited.

Exploits are normally patched by a security team that has limited information in regards to how the hacker exploited their software. They are usually forced to guess how the exploit was implemented by the trail left behind by the hacker. The Pwnium contest is akin to a controlled environment where the Chrome team can see the exploit in its entirety and have time to study it before rolling out an update.

The Chrome security team also detailed a third exploit that was discovered at a different event last week. The exploit in question used a vulnerability in the Flash Player plug-in that could affect all browsers. The exploit was detailed to Adobe and their team is working on a patch that will be implemented in the near future.

Speaking of Flash Player, Google announced that they are working with Adobe to provide a version of Flash Player that will run natively inside the Chrome sandbox. The Chromebook already has this functionality.

All of this just goes to show you that there are good hackers out there. Hackers are usually painted in a bad light due to the actions of rogue agents, but the majority of them are just making the Web a safer and better place.

Article source: http://www.webpronews.com/google-chromes-pwnium-contest-makes-the-web-a-safer-place-2012-03

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14 Mar 12 Windows 8 version of Chrome browser coming


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 13 (UPI) — U.S. search giant Google says it is working on a version of its Chrome Web browser for Windows 8 that will run in the operating system’s Metro interface.

“Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8,” a Google spokesperson told Mashable.

The Google announcement follows a similar one last month from Mozilla, which said it has been developing a version of its Firefox browser that includes both a Metro and desktop interface in a single application.

Google confirmed Chrome for Windows 8 will be optimized for touch support, enabling users to use Chrome on any Windows 8 tablets as well as desktop computers, slashgear.com reported Tuesday.

In the current Windows 8 Consumer Preview, one version of Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer runs specifically on Metro, and doesn’t support Flash, while the other runs in the traditional desktop interface, both sporting radically different interfaces, slashgear.com said.

Article source: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/03/13/Windows-8-version-of-Chrome-browser-coming/UPI-92621331670625/

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