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02 Jun 12 Chrome steals second place from Firefox in browser wars


Editor’s Note: This story is excerpted from Computerworld. For more Mac coverage, visit Computerworld’s Macintosh Knowledge Center.


  • Apple’s Safari grows faster than Chrome in July
  • Chrome, Safari reach record browser share highs


  • Internet Explorer on pace to drop below 50-percent share by 2011

  • Chrome again beats Firefox in browser gain race

  • Firefox 4 tops 100 million downloads, fails to move share

  • Opera is Facebook’s best browser play

Google’s Chrome passed Mozilla’s Firefox in May to become the world’s second-most-popular browser, according to data released by Web analytics company Net Applications.

The California-based firm was the second major metric company to track Chrome’s run to second. In November 2011, Irish measurement vendor StatCounter said Chrome had passed Firefox in its estimates.

Net Applications’ spot swapping came as a surprise: Earlier projections by Computerworld had pointed to a delay in Chrome’s capture of second place, perhaps to as late as August.

But in May, Chrome gained 1.3 percentage points, more than double its average increase over the last 12 months, to climb to 20.2%, while Firefox lost six-tenths of a point to fall to 19.6%.

Last month was the first time that Chrome cracked the 20% mark—the browser debuted in September 2008—and the first time that Firefox fell under that number in Net Applications’ data since October of the same year.

Firefox, backed by open-source developer Mozilla, peaked at just over 25% in April 2010, and has been on a slow-but-steady decline in usage share since then.

For Microsoft, May was a return to a more traditional pattern: Internet Explorer (IE) lost half a percentage point to end the month at 53.6%. May’s decline put an end to the two-month-in-a-row growth IE had experienced, and returned the browser to near the share it owned last March.

Even so, IE has gained share in three of the first five months of 2012.

Within the IE family, IE9 continued its ascent, adding one percentage point to account for 16.9% of all browsers on all operating systems. IE8 also was up, boosting its share by nearly half a point to 26.7%.

The other editions—2006’s IE7 and the 11-year-old IE6—lost share in May. IE6, the version Microsoft wants to disappear, lost a point last month, falling to 6.1%, a record low in Net Applications’ tracking. IE7 shed seven-tenths of a percentage point to drop to 3.4%, also a record.

While the shift toward IE9 can be attributed to the increasing uptake of Windows 7, IE8’s recent rebound is harder to explain. IE8 has grown its share in four of the first five months of the year compared to only two such months during all of 2011.

The shift toward IE8 and the above-average declines of both IE6 and IE7 so far this year may be due to Microsoft’s new practice of automatically upgrading older versions. Late last year, the company said it would begin to silently force Windows to upgrade IE to the newest-possible edition, ending a tradition of asking users’ permission for such moves.

In January, Microsoft started upgrading some PCs running Windows XP from IE6 or IE7 to IE8, and swapping IE9 for IE7 or IE8 on Vista and Windows 7.

The process started in Australia and Brazil, and is to gradually roll out worldwide this year. Microsoft has declined to provide the names of countries where it has switched on the silent IE upgrades.

Apple’s Safari lost two-tenths of a point last month to end at 4.6%, while Opera Software’s Opera was flat at 1.6%.

StatCounter’s calculations, however, were considerably different than Net Applications’, as they tend to be.

Net Applications had IE falling by almost two percentage points to 32.1%, while Chrome grew by 1.2 percentage points to 32.4%, making good on reports throughout May that showed Chrome would kick IE out of first place. Firefox, said StatCounter, climbed to 25.6%, while Safari and Opera didn’t budge, accounting for shares of 7.1% and 1.7%, respectively.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 websites that the company monitors. More browser share figures can be found on the company’s site.


See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Article source: http://www.macworld.com/article/1167053/chrome_steals_second_place_from_firefox_in_browser_wars.html

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28 May 12 Facebook needs Opera – to rescue it from dependence on Apple


Analysis Facebook is reported to be interested in buying Scandinavian browser company Opera Software.

The facts are few, the sourcing criminally light, but the story arrives as Opera is also reported to have instituted a hiring freeze that some claim is a harbinger to putting itself up for sale.

Both firms refused to comment on the reports when contacted by The Reg.

Why would Facebook want to own its own browser, especially when Opera has minuscule market share and is better at generating publicity than desktop growth?

Facebook is also interested in buying Face.com and, again, preparing its own phone having poached six iPhone engineers and one from the iPad team at Apple.

A market once thought dead has been on fire in recent years, thanks initially to Mozilla’s Firefox: that led to Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s conversion to standards with IE9 and IE10. Things are so promising, even Yahoo! is making a play for a stake in browsers, with its Axis.

Why have a browser? As far as Microsoft was concerned at least, it was felt if you lost the browser you lost the desktop and MSN business. Microsoft likes to create what it calls “optimized experiences” and on IE today that means things like pinning web pages to the bottom of the Windows 7 screen to help you find them fast.

This sort of thinking comes from the type of company with a market to protect; today’s browser makers don’t have this but are trying to make themselves more relevant and the perceived way of doing that is performance for the end user.

Google launched Chrome despite partnering with Mozilla on Firefox because Firefox was slowing down, turning into big ol’ memory hog – although that’s been rectified now. Google added incognito browsing, search with sites from the toolbar and tabbed synching. Opera has also sped up browsing, with Turbo that compresses web pages by up to 80 per cent to serve pages to most devices – and a claimed 90 per cent for Apple’s iPhone and iPad – across narrow or spotty networks. Microsoft responded by making IE fast and look more like Chrome.

After awhile all this speed and performance goes unnoticed by the typical web user on the desktop. But this is not the target demographic; the new targets are those using specific apps, like gaming, and those on phones and tablets, which have limited onboard compute and are at the mercy of spotty networks.

That’s why Firefox and Chrome have been focusing on hardware accelerated graphics rendering; to offload traffic from the CPU and prolong battery life.

Hence, we also now have Firefox and Chrome for Android.

One company that doesn’t let you run your browser on the device unless it’s native is the company that’s got the best and most exciting market share: Apple’s insistence on native software has kept Firefox and Chrome off its phones.

The Opera Mini web browser is the exception; it’s permitted because Opera Mini caches web pages using Opera’s global network of servers to render and execute pages rather than this happening on the device. In that respect, Opera Mini is more of a service app so passes Apple’s rules without Opera needing to build one version for Apple’s phones and tablets, and another for everybody else.

Opera Mini isn’t restricted to iOS, though, and Opera claims 168 million users running on Java ME, Android, Windows Mobile, iOS, BlackBerry and Symbian, too. Importantly, they are largely in emerging markets: Opera has struggled in the US and Europe but is strong in growing markets such as Russia, Brazil, Africa and South East Asia.

Opera has another plus: an ad-serving network, bought early last year for $8m plus. Mobile ads aren’t owned by any single company at present, unlike the desktop. Ads are vital part of the newly IPO’d Facebook, as chief operating officer Sheryl Sandburg reminded us all as the stock slid south last week.

Given this, it’s credible that Facebook wants the engineers, the servers and the ads network owned by Opera. The former could speed the performance of its site on all devices, especially the iPhone and iPad – something it otherwise has no control over.

This might also explain why Facebook has poached Apple phone and tablet engineers, rather than the social network entering a phone handset business that’s demanding, expensive to fund and has barely sustainable margins.

Learn from Adobe

This is happening elsewhere: Adobe has stealth hired some hard-core language and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) experts from Oracle to make its ActionScript VM run better outside the Flash Player that’s been pariahed by Steve Jobs, in an increasingly browser-plug-in free internet universe of tablets and phones.

In that case, Adobe lured just four people. Opera has 700. Facebook plainly has the money to burn, having spent $1bn on Instagram lately only to launch an Instagram-like mobile camera app via iTunes. It’s believed Facebook bought Instagram to head off potential competition – Instagram had 50 million users, adding five million per week.

And therein lies a reason for Facebook to buy Opera: competition. Safari, thanks to Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad, dominates mobile. That confers huge power on Apple; some newspaper publishers have realized this power hanging over their heads and walked away from the AppStore and gone to HTML5 rather than surrender their independence to Apple. Facebook, with an IPO under its belt and managers now answerable to shareholders, must look for ways to end its complete and utter reliance on one company to reach millions of users.

Sounds crazy? Don’t underestimate independence: it was the reason Oracle first dedicated engineering resources to improve the Linux kernel and put its ERP on Linux, in the late 1990s making it the first big software vendor to do so. It did so to end its utter reliance on the roadmap and direction of Windows on servers.

The question is: what price does Facebook attach to independence? ®

Article source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/28/facebook_to_buy_opera/

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28 May 12 Facebook needs Opera – to rescue it from dependence on Apple


Analysis Facebook is reported to be interested in buying Scandinavian browser company Opera Software.

The facts are few, the sourcing criminally light, but the story arrives as Opera is also reported to have instituted a hiring freeze that some claim is a harbinger to putting itself up for sale.

Both firms refused to comment on the reports when contacted by The Reg.

Why would Facebook want to own its own browser, especially when Opera has minuscule market share and is better at generating publicity than desktop growth?

Facebook is also interested in buying Face.com and, again, preparing its own phone having poached six iPhone engineers and one from the iPad team at Apple.

A market once thought dead has been on fire in recent years, thanks initially to Mozilla’s Firefox: that led to Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s conversion to standards with IE9 and IE10. Things are so promising, even Yahoo! is making a play for a stake in browsers, with its Axis.

Why have a browser? As far as Microsoft was concerned at least, it was felt if you lost the browser you lost the desktop and MSN business. Microsoft likes to create what it calls “optimized experiences” and on IE today that means things like pinning web pages to the bottom of the Windows 7 screen to help you find them fast.

This sort of thinking comes from the type of company with a market to protect; today’s browser makers don’t have this but are trying to make themselves more relevant and the perceived way of doing that is performance for the end user.

Google launched Chrome despite partnering with Mozilla on Firefox because Firefox was slowing down, turning into big ol’ memory hog – although that’s been rectified now. Google added incognito browsing, search with sites from the toolbar and tabbed synching. Opera has also sped up browsing, with Turbo that compresses web pages by up to 80 per cent to serve pages to most devices – and a claimed 90 per cent for Apple’s iPhone and iPad – across narrow or spotty networks. Microsoft responded by making IE fast and look more like Chrome.

After awhile all this speed and performance goes unnoticed by the typical web user on the desktop. But this is not the target demographic; the new targets are those using specific apps, like gaming, and those on phones and tablets, which have limited onboard compute and are at the mercy of spotty networks.

That’s why Firefox and Chrome have been focusing on hardware accelerated graphics rendering; to offload traffic from the CPU and prolong battery life.

Hence, we also now have Firefox and Chrome for Android.

One company that doesn’t let you run your browser on the device unless it’s native is the company that’s got the best and most exciting market share: Apple’s insistence on native software has kept Firefox and Chrome off its phones.

The Opera Mini web browser is the exception; it’s permitted because Opera Mini caches web pages using Opera’s global network of servers to render and execute pages rather than this happening on the device. In that respect, Opera Mini is more of a service app so passes Apple’s rules without Opera needing to build one version for Apple’s phones and tablets, and another for everybody else.

Opera Mini isn’t restricted to iOS, though, and Opera claims 168 million users running on Java ME, Android, Windows Mobile, iOS, BlackBerry and Symbian, too. Importantly, they are largely in emerging markets: Opera has struggled in the US and Europe but is strong in growing markets such as Russia, Brazil, Africa and South East Asia.

Opera has another plus: an ad-serving network, bought early last year for $8m plus. Mobile ads aren’t owned by any single company at present, unlike the desktop. Ads are vital part of the newly IPO’d Facebook, as chief operating officer Sheryl Sandburg reminded us all as the stock slid south last week.

Given this, it’s credible that Facebook wants the engineers, the servers and the ads network owned by Opera. The former could speed the performance of its site on all devices, especially the iPhone and iPad – something it otherwise has no control over.

This might also explain why Facebook has poached Apple phone and tablet engineers, rather than the social network entering a phone handset business that’s demanding, expensive to fund and has barely sustainable margins.

Learn from Adobe

This is happening elsewhere: Adobe has stealth hired some hard-core language and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) experts from Oracle to make its ActionScript VM run better outside the Flash Player that’s been pariahed by Steve Jobs, in an increasingly browser-plug-in free internet universe of tablets and phones.

In that case, Adobe lured just four people. Opera has 700. Facebook plainly has the money to burn, having spent $1bn on Instagram lately only to launch an Instagram-like mobile camera app via iTunes. It’s believed Facebook bought Instagram to head off potential competition – Instagram had 50 million users, adding five million per week.

And therein lies a reason for Facebook to buy Opera: competition. Safari, thanks to Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad, dominates mobile. That confers huge power on Apple; some newspaper publishers have realized this power hanging over their heads and walked away from the AppStore and gone to HTML5 rather than surrender their independence to Apple. Facebook, with an IPO under its belt and managers now answerable to shareholders, must look for ways to end its complete and utter reliance on one company to reach millions of users.

Sounds crazy? Don’t underestimate independence: it was the reason Oracle first dedicated engineering resources to improve the Linux kernel and put its ERP on Linux, in the late 1990s making it the first big software vendor to do so. It did so to end its utter reliance on the roadmap and direction of Windows on servers.

The question is: what price does Facebook attach to independence? ®

Article source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/28/facebook_to_buy_opera/

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27 May 12 Opera is Facebook’s best browser play


Computerworld -

Facebook may acquire Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, developer of the Opera and Opera Mini browsers for desktops and mobile phones, according to a report.

The purchase of Opera would give Facebook a way to quickly create a dedicated browser customized for the social networking giant and its estimated 900 million active monthly users.

It would also put Facebook in the middle of a browser battle with Microsoft (Internet Explorer), Mozilla (Firefox), Google (Chrome) and Apple (Safari). Some of those companies — like Microsoft — have partnered with Facebook, while others — such as Google — compete in the social networking space.

U.K.-based technology website Pocket-lint first reported Friday that Facebook “is looking to buy Opera Software,” citing an unnamed source it described only as “trusted.” Other sites, including The Next Web, claimed that while their sources could not verify Facebook’s interest, they did say Opera’s management has been talking to potential suitors.

Both Opera and Facebook declined to comment on Pocket-lint’s report.

Opera is really the only top-five browser that Facebook, or anyone for that matter, could conceivably acquire.

Three of the five are locked into operating systems: Internet Explorer, with Windows; Chrome, with ChromeOS; and Safari, with OS X and iOS.

And Firefox, while not associated with an OS maker, is backed by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which has used the “open Web” mantra since its inception. It’s hard to believe that Mozilla would sell Firefox to Facebook, a company that has reaped billions from a self-contained ecosystem.

That leaves only Opera.

But while Opera is the one viable deal Facebook could make, the Norwegian browser comes with its own baggage: It’s the fifth browser, and a distant fifth at that, in a five-browser market.

Last month, Opera accounted for just 1.6% of the world’s in-use browsers, according to data from metrics company Net Applications. Opera has never cracked the 3% mark, never been in anything but fifth place on the desktop. Even No. 4 Safari has three times Opera’s usage share.

And on mobile, the numbers are little better.

Even though Opera claims about 210 million Opera Mini users worldwide, Net Applications pegged the browser’s share of mobile at 12% for April, just half what it was a year earlier. Most of Opera Mini’s losses have gone to Apple’s Safari, the default browser on the iPhone and iPad, whose owners have a voracious appetite for the Web.

(Net Applications’ Irish rival, StatCounter, showed Opera with a 21.5% share in April, with Safari at 23.7%.)

That’s not to say that a Facebook-owned Opera and Opera Mini wouldn’t change those numbers: In the U.S., Facebook collects about one-in-every-five page views. If Facebook branded Opera and Opera Mini with its own nameplate and pitched them to its members, it could quickly boost the browsers’ shares.

Opera Mini also has an edge that could play to Facebook’s advantage: Apple refuses to allow third-party browsers not built atop Safari into the App Store.

But Opera Mini is already in the iOS App Store, managing that feat because it really isn’t a browser, at least as Apple defines one. Rather than render HTML locally on the device, Opera Mini is essentially a proxy that shuttles page requests to Opera’s own servers, which render the page, then aggressively compress it before sending it back to the device.

More: Browser Topic Center

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227516/Opera_is_Facebook_s_best_browser_play

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26 May 12 Facebook Rumored to be Thinking of Buying Opera Software


Is there a Facebook browser on the horizon?

It’s been a busy couple of months for Facebook. First the social network acquired Instagram for a cool billion dollars. Then, last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the company public (right before walking down the aisle with his girlfriend of nine years). Most recently, the company launched its own camera application for iOS devices.

Now, word on the street is that Facebook is considering buying the company behind the Opera web browser. Pocket-Lint cites a trusted source in reporting that Facebook is looking to purchase Opera Software. This source says Facebook could be about to expand into the browser space to take on the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla and (as of this week) Yahoo!. If Pocket-Lint’s information alone isn’t enough to whet your appetite, there’s more rumblings of the same variety over at The Next Web.

TNW spoke to their own Opera Software source and gleaned the following information: Opera Software is talking to potential buyers right now. It’s not clear if Facebook is one of them, but TNW’s source says the company is looking to sell and become part of “a larger privately-held or public company rather than trying to keep growing the business independently.” This source also revealed that Opera Software has a hiring freeze in place, which indicates something big might be about to do down.

The move would save Facebook the hassle of building its own browser from scratch. While Opera is a distant last in the desktop browser market (as of last month, it had just 1.76 percent of the market), it’s currently the top mobile browser with a market share of 21.52 percent and has a prescence on smartphones, tablets, and even game consoles, which could be more Facebook’s style.

No comment for Facebook or Opera on this rumor, so stay tuned!

Follow @JaneMcEntegart on Twitter.           

Article source: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Facebook-Opera-Browser-Software-Acquisition,news-15364.html

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26 May 12 Rumor: Facebook might buy Opera to build its own Web browser


Fresh off its roller coaster IPO and $1 billion Instagram acquisition, it’s now come to our attention that Facebook might have plans to build its own browser (alà Google Chrome) based on Opera’s Web browser. Talk about wanting to be an Internet conquistador!

The rumor on Facebook’s possible Web browser ambitions comes from Pocket-lint:


A Facebook browser that would allow you keep up to date with your social life from in-built plug-ins and features on the menu bar could be on the cards. Pocket-lint has heard from one of its trusted sources that the social networking giant is looking to buy Opera Software, the company behind the Opera web browser.

According to our man in the know, the company could be about to expand into the browser space to take on the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla and now even Yahoo, who has recently launched its own browser.

The Next Web chimed in on the matter as well:


1) Opera Software management is talking to potential buyers right now.
Currently listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, the company’s leadership is said to consider becoming part of a larger privately-held or public company rather than trying to keep growing the business independently.

2) We’re told that there’s currently a hiring freeze at Opera, which is a surefire sign that something big is about to happen – or at least that Opera wants something big to happen.

Naturally, Facebook declined to comment on the rumor.

The thought of Facebook creating its own Web browser is not farfetched. Just as Google is a portal to the rest of the Web, Facebook is quickly following in its footsteps, but through the socialgraph. Facebook is to today’s kids as Google was to us 10 years ago.

A Facebook Web browser could be the foundation that’ll eventually lead to a real Facebook smartphone and mobile OS competitor. What with everybody predicting Facebook’s death in five years, Facebook needs to be more than a one-hit wonder. There’s no other way to own the Internet than to be the vehicle to the Internet.

The most recent data from Statcounter, tracker of Web browser traffic shows Opera is the fifth most-used Web browser, trailing Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

The chart says it all:

statcounter-browserchart.jpg

Pocket-lint, via The Verge and The Next Web

Article source: http://dvice.com/archives/2012/05/rumor-facebook-1.php

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03 Apr 12 IE's Browser Share Recovers, Chrome Down for Third Straight Month


Internet Explorer posted another major gain in share last month, the second in the first quarter of the year, perhaps signaling a turnaround in Microsoft’s fortunes, a Web metrics company said Sunday.

Meanwhile, every rival, including Google’s Chrome, which is usually the one stealing users, lost share.

Internet Explorer (IE) gained 1 percentage point during March, said measurement firm Net Applications, to end the month with a 53.8% share, its highest level since September 2011. Last month’s growth was the second this year of 1 point or more.

Chrome lost a third of a percentage point to close March with 18.6%, while Mozilla’s Firefox slipped by about the same to 20.6%, the open-source browser’s lowest number in more than three years.

Apple’s Safari and Opera Software’s desktop browsers also dipped, falling by two-tenths and one-tenth of a point, respectively, to 5.1% and 1.6%.

Chrome’s decline is especially notable, as March’s slide was the third consecutive month that Google’s once-hard-charging browser lost share. In the first quarter of 2012, Chrome has dropped more than half a percentage point, representing a 3% decline from the browser’s December 2011 number.

Previously, Net Applications has attributed Chrome’s skid to Google’s January demotion of the browser’s search ranking and then last month, to recalculations that eliminated the extra activity generated by Chrome’s pre-rendering feature.

Google restored Chrome’s search ranking last month.

It was unclear whether the rise of Internet Explorer (IE) and the fall of every rival was due to a rejiggering of Net Applications’ numbers.

Like most Web measurement firms, Net Applications has more data on some nations — the U.S., for instance — and relatively small samples from others, such as China. To produce what it believes is a more accurate representation of global browser usage, Net Applications weights its Chinese data proportionally higher because that country has a greater percentage of the world’s Internet users than the U.S.

Net Applications uses online population numbers provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has regularly tracked big jumps in China’s part of the browser-user pie, and corresponding drops in the percentage of the world’s users who hail from the U.S., Europe and other developed countries. Earlier this year, a company spokesman confirmed that it would revamp its calculations with newer CIA numbers at some point.

In February 2011, after Net Applications’ last accounting change , IE’s usage share jumped an eighth of a percentage point, at that time its largest one-month increase ever.

Because Chinese users overwhelmingly rely on IE, or a modified version of Microsoft ‘s browser, the country can easily skew Net Applications’ share estimates toward IE as more people there access the Web.

Microsoft, not surprisingly, applauds Net Applications’ country-by-country weighting system, going so far last month as to explicitly challenge the accuracy of the data from another metrics company, Ireland’s StatCounter, which also publishes monthly browser share numbers.

Net Applications did not reply Sunday to questions about whether it revised its weighting formula last month, and if so, what impact that had on IE’s share.

Microsoft mentioned the overall gains of IE in passing on Sunday, but as it’s done for months, focused on increases of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).

“We … see great strides made against our core metric: IE9 against Windows 7 ,” said Roger Capriotti, director of IE marketing, in a Sunday post to a company blog.

Almost since IE9′s debut, Microsoft has ignored IE’s aggregate performance — which admittedly has been dismal until late — and instead focused on the growth of its newest browser among Windows 7 users, a combination the company has regularly claimed is the only measurement that matters.

By Net Applications’ numbers, IE9 accounts for 34.5% of the world’s browsers used on that operating system, an increase of more than four percentage points from February, and owns a 48.9% share of the Windows 7 browser market in the U.S., a jump of 8.5 points.

The browser’s global share of all operating systems, however, is significantly lower, at 15.2%, but even that was a bump of 2.6 percentage points, the largest single-month gain since IE9′s March 2011 launch.

Other editions of Microsoft’s browser didn’t fare as well: IE8 lost 2.5 percentage points to fall to 25.4%, while IE7 dropped to 4.5%. IE6, the nearly 11-year-old browser that Microsoft has been trying to bury, stayed flat at 6.9%.

StatCounter, however, told a different tale.

The Irish company, which neither adjusts its statistics for each country’s online population nor discards Chrome’s pre-rendered pages, said that IE controlled 34.8% of the browser market, down nine-tenths of a point, while Chrome grew by more than a point to end March at 30.9%. Firefox, said StatCounter, remained stable at 25%.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors. More browser share figures can be found on the company’s site.

Internet Explorer share has ticked up this year, while Chrome has lost a little ground. (Data: Net Applications.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com .

Read more about browsers in Computerworld’s Browsers Topic Center.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/252992/ies_browser_share_recovers_chrome_down_for_third_straight_month.html

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15 Mar 12 Opera, Google Chrome and Firefox commit to Windows 8 Metro browsers


Mozilla has kick-started development of a Metro-style version of Firefox for Windows 8, Google has committed to doing the same and Opera Software said yesterday that it’s looking into the matter.

Those three browser makers would be chasing Microsoft, which has a five-month head start, having already built several iterations of Internet Explorer 10 that run on both the Windows 8 traditional desktop and in the operating system’s new Metro touch-first user interface.

Mozilla, which first said a month ago that it would build a “proof-of-concept” edition of Firefox for Windows 8 Metro UI, recently revealed more details of the project.

According to Firefox engineer Brian Bondy, Mozilla began actual development of a Windows 8 browser last week.

‘Metro style enabled desktop browsers’

It turns out that Microsoft will allow hybrid desktop-Metro apps, but will limit that third category – after classic x86/64 Windows programs and Metro-only applications – to something the Redmond giant dubbed “Metro style enabled desktop browsers”.

“Firefox will fall into the third category, meaning you can run Firefox as a desktop application, and you can run it as a Metro application,” Bondy said.

Metro style enabled desktop browsers can run outside the normal Metro sandbox and have access to most classic Windows APIs (application programming interface), as well as the new WinRT API, the backbone of the Metro side of Windows 8 application development.

The category also gets an important pass from Microsoft: A Metro enabled desktop browser circumvents the Windows Store – the Microsoft-curated distribution channel for all Metro apps – and when installed on the Windows 8 classic desktop, simultaneously installs the Metro version.

The biggest caveat for a Metro enabled desktop browser is that only the default browser – which is set by the user – can run in the Metro UI.

Like Windows 7, Windows 8 will initially assign IE as the default browser.

Crossbreed browser

Mozilla’s work began months ago, after last September’s Build conference where Microsoft released the rough-edged Windows 8 Developer Preview. But programming was impossible until Microsoft provided documentation that described how to construct a crossbreed browser.

That documentation was published at the February 29 launch of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, putting IE’s rivals at a five-month disadvantage (download Word document). Bondy also said the whitepaper “lacked quite a bit of information” and that Mozilla developers had to fill in the gaps by hacking the Windows 8 registry.

Mozilla has only a rough timeline for Firefox on Windows 8. The proof-of-concept of Firefox for Metro is currently slated to ship alongside Firefox 14, which has a launch date of July 17. From there, Mozilla will work through its normal progression of alpha and beta versions before shipping final code.

Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox, said in a reply to questions that he does not expect Mozilla will ship a final version of a Metro style enabled Firefox in time to make the launch of Windows 8.

Microsoft has not yet disclosed a ship date for Windows 8, but most analysts anticipate the operating system will debut in the fourth quarter.

Chrome for Metro

In a comment he posted last week on ZDNet’s “The Ed Bott Report” blog, Dotzler was more specific about timing. “I do not anticipate that we will get beyond a late stage Beta this year,” Dotzler said.

Today, Dotzler confirmed that, “This is an accurate picture of our current thinking…, but that may change as we progress.”

Google also said it would build a Metro-enabled version of its Chrome browser for Windows 8, but did not spell out a development timeline.

“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 spokesman said. “To that end we’re in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8, such as adding enhanced touch support.”

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software stopped just short of making the same promise.

“We can’t comment on any specifics yet, other than we are currently looking into Windows 8,” said an Opera spokesman yesterday. “The new OS and the Metro UI offers an interesting new platform and we know users will want to run Opera on it.”

Antitrust concerns

Apple does not comment on future products, but it’s unlikely the company will rush to support Windows 8: Although Apple launched Safari for Windows nearly five years ago, almost all Safari users run it on Mac OS X.

Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, applauded Microsoft for letting other browser developers compete on Windows 8′s Metro UI. But he acknowledged that it may have been motivated by antitrust concerns.

“Given the history of Microsoft’s travails with DOJ and EU, it is smart for them to open up the browser environment,” said Hilwa, referring to the scrutiny Microsoft has faced from regulators in the US and the European Union. “A higher level of openness may prove to be an important point of differentiation for Windows 8 compared to Apple’s platform.”

In 2009, Microsoft agreed to offer a browser choice ballot in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 to European users after Opera complained to EU’s antitrust commission that Microsoft was using Windows’ dominance to shield Internet Explorer from competition.

The ballot offers users download links for other browsers.

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26 Feb 12 Mozilla announces Web app store a la Chrome


By IQConcept/ShutterstockNext week, at the GSMA Mobile World Congress, Mozilla will be launching its own app store for HTML5 web apps, called the Mozilla Marketplace, much like Google did with the Chrome app store that launched worldwide just under one year ago.

Mozilla’s offering will differ from Chrome in that it will be more of a platform than a simple HTML5 app store. The Mozilla Web Apps platform will include APIs that Mozilla has submitted to the W3C for standardization, and it will include a new user identity scheme so that web app users can tie their apps to their identity rather than their device.

“The Web is the largest platform in the world. We are enabling the Web to be the marketplace, giving developers the opportunity to play on the biggest playing field imaginable,” said Todd Simpson, Mozilla’s Chief of Innovation in a statement on Wednesday. “By building the missing pieces, Mozilla is now unlocking the potential of the Web to be the platform for creating and consuming content everywhere.”

The “write once, run anywhere,” mantra is often thrown around when discussing the virtues of Web app development, and it has led companies such as Intel, ATT, and Opera Software into the fold.

Mozilla Marketplace will be available to consumers later this year.

Photo Credit: IQConcept/shutterstock

Article source: http://betanews.com/2012/02/22/mozilla-announces-web-app-store-a-la-chrome/

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