firefox-chrome-metro-600

If you’re reading this on a PC, it’s probably on Google Chrome or Firefox — the two most popular browsers on Windows that Mashable readers use. It’s a telling example about how most tech-savvy Windows users don’t use the default browser on their machines, Internet Explorer. But how’s that going to change when Windows 8 launches later this year?

Windows 8, as you may know, has two modes: the familiar desktop, and the all-new Metro interface (for a primer on Windows 8, check out this link). Metro differs from traditional Windows in many ways, but one of the ways that’s not often talked about is that Microsoft will have final say over what apps run on it, since Windows 8 users will only be able to download Metro apps from the Windows Store.

With such ironclad control over the new operating system, would Microsoft even allow other web browsers to run in Metro? The answer is yes, and Mozilla is already hard at work developing the Metro version of Firefox, one of the company’s developers revealed on his personal blog. He also revealed a little tidbit: Browser apps will work somewhat differently than other Metro apps.

Mozilla engineer Brian R. Bondy says there are three types of Windows 8 apps: those that run solely in the classic desktop, Metro apps, and Metro-enabled browsers for the desktop. It’s the last one that Metro versions of Firefox (and presumably Google Chrome) will be.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Good, the Bad and the Metro [REVIEW]
Bondy references a Microsoft white paper that says Metro-style browsers aren’t completely confined to the Metro environment. That means, as Bondy describes, that the browser can be just as powerful as its desktop equivalent, with the ability to multitask, download files in the background and render web-based HTML5 apps in their entirety.

That’s because, if Internet Explorer 10 is any indication, that the browser is essentially the same animal whether it’s running in the desktop or Metro — it’s only the user interface that’s different. Still, that involves quite a bit of coding, and Bondy says it’s a “very large project.”

There’s a catch, though: For a browser to run in Metro, the user must pick it as the default browser. That likely won’t be an issue for most fans of Firefox and Chrome, but it does mean you won’t be able to have multiple browsers open in Metro.


BONUS: A Tour of Windows 8


 

Start Menu

Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Firefox, google chrome, IE10, internet explorer, Metro, trending, web browsers, Windows 8

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Google wants you to help find security flaws in its browser, Chrome — and the search giant is paying a handsome reward.

The company told attendees at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver next month they can get up to $1 million in cash and Chromebooks in exchange for revealing the flaws.

“The aim of our sponsorship is simple: we have a big learning opportunity when we receive full end-to-end exploits. Not only can we fix the bugs, but by studying the vulnerability and exploit techniques we can enhance our mitigations, automated testing, and sandboxing. This enables us to better protect our users,” the Google Chrome security team wrote in a blog post.

The prizes include the following categories, and multiple rewards can be issued per category:

$60,000 – “Full Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using only bugs in Chrome itself.

$40,000 – “Partial Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using at least one bug in Chrome itself, plus other bugs. For example, a WebKit bug combined with a Windows sandbox bug.

$20,000 – “Consolation reward, Flash / Windows / other”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence that does not use bugs in Chrome. For example, bugs in one or more of Flash, Windows or a driver. These exploits are not specific to Chrome and will be a threat to users of any web browser. Although not specifically Chrome’s issue, we’ve decided to offer consolation prizes because these findings still help us toward our mission of making the entire web safer.

Check out the video above to learn more.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, alija

More About: Google, google chrome, security

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Much to the annoyance of many of its users, Facebook is always changing. The recent Timeline revamp is the last in a series of tweaks to the social networking service, some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly.

Do you like the news “ticker?” How about the revamped chat? Does the highlighted news style bother you when you miss out on gossip?

We have identified five older Facebook features and functions that we used to enjoy, and found extensions for Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers that get them back.

We know we can’t stop progress in the long term (and we wouldn’t want to), but for the sake of some short-term peace of mind, we’re going retro with some tweaks to suit our preferences.

Let us know in the comments about any Facebook features that drive you nuts, and we’ll see if we can find a few options to “fix” them.

1. Hide the News Ticker and Restore Your News Feed with Facebook Classic by
Michael Donohoe

To compensate for the fact that it rearranges the order of your News Feed, Facebook now displays a constantly updated news “ticker” above the chat bar if you have it open, or the top right of your home page if you don’t.

This continually updating stream is a source of annoyance to many, while the edited news feed itself makes many Facebook users apoplectic with rage.

Facebook Classic will solve both these problems. In addition to nixing the ticker, it reverts your News Feed to chronological order. As a bonus, you can easily toggle it on and off.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: add-ons, extensions, Facebook, features, gallery, google chrome, How-To, mozilla firefox, tips and tricks, trending

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Developers are hot on working with Google platforms this year, as evidenced by the demand for tickets to Google I/O 2011. The tech giant’s fourth annual developer conference sold out in 59 minutes when passes went on sale February 7.

If you’re kicking yourself for waiting an hour or more to buy one of the $450 tickets, now’s your chance to redeem yourself. We’re giving away three free passes to the event, which will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from May 10 to 11.

The conference will host highly-technical sessions focused on Google and open web technologies, including Android and Google Chrome. Google representatives from across these platforms will present 80 beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions. More than 100 new technologies will be showcased by developers.

Want to be one of the expected 5,500 in attendance? Try your luck on Mashable.


How To Enter the Contest:


  • Tweet your favorite Google product with the hashtag #io2011 and a link to this post, OR
  • Submit your favorite Google product in the comments below and like this post on Facebook

Submit your answer by Wednesday, May 4, at 12 p.m. PT. Please use your real identity in the submission so that we may contact you via email, Twitter or Facebook to let you know you’ve won. Each winner will receive one ticket. Hotel and airfare are not included. This contest is limited to U.S. residents 18 and older.


Try the Mashable Chrome Extension for Easy Browsing »


More About: contest, developers, development, google io, google io 2011

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Google has released a stable version of Chrome 11.

The new version, released Wednesday, brings bug fixes as well as some fascinating translation and speech-to-text features, GPU-accelerated 3D CSS and a simplified new icon.

Users can download Chrome 11 at the official Chrome page.

With the speech-to-text support, users will be able to click an icon and speak into the computer’s microphone, and Chrome 11 will transcribe the speech into text. Developers can add this feature to their website or web app.

This magic is made possible by the HTML5 speech input API, which you can also see in action at HTML5Rocks.com. Another nerdy implementation of the same feature can be seen in this Captain Kirk Bot.

Google Translate in Chrome 11 takes great advantage of the API, giving users the ability to translate spoken words into another language; users can both read and listen to translated speech.

As far as bug-squashing goes, Google shelled out a record $16,500 to individual developers who pitched in on taking the release from a beta to a stable version. The company paid between $500 and $3,000 for patching such vulnerabilities as corrupt node trees with mutation events and dangling pointers.

Google also gave special thanks to Apple Product Security team members miaubiz, kuzzcc, Sławomir Błażek, Drew Yao and Braden Thomas who helped take the browser to a less buggy stable release.

More About: chrome, chrome 11, Google

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Google’s quickly growing web browser is getting a new icon that better “embodies the Chrome spirit,” or so says the company in a blog post announcing the change.

“Since Chrome is all about making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible, we refreshed the Chrome icon to better represent these sentiments,” said Google designer Steve Rura.

The change is rather subtle, with the basic design and color scheme of the logo remaining the same, but the 3D, chrome-finished logo being replaced by a 2D version with a lot less shine.

A minor change, no doubt, but with more than 120 million users of Chrome now out there, one that lots of people will be seeing soon.

How do you like the new look? Let us know in the comments.

More About: google chrome

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The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

Google is preparing for war with Apple and Microsoft over the future of web video, and the rest of will be caught in the crossfire.

Earlier this week, Google quietly announced that it would be phasing out Chrome support for H.264, the video codec and standard supported by Adobe Flash, Blu-ray, Internet Explorer, Safari and others. Instead, it will be supporting WebM and Ogg Theora, which are supported by Mozilla and Opera.

What Google hoped would be a small footnote turned into a tidal wave of criticism. Google was chastised for turning its back on “open innovation” by dropping a more widely used codec for a lesser-used one. Compounded by the fact that Google is a strong supporter of Adobe and Flash, and it’s easy to see why the firestorm started in the first place.


Why Is Google Against H.264?


After several days of being slammed in the media, Google finally responded and wrote the post it should have written in the first place.

First, Google’s Mike Jazayeri clarified that Google Chrome would only stop supporting H.264 in HTML5, not in Flash or other forms of media. Then he dove into the problem surrounding the HTML5 <video> tag:

“As it stands, the organizations involved in defining the HTML video standard are at an impasse. There is no agreement on which video codec should be the baseline standard. Firefox and Opera support the open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and will not support H.264 due to its licensing requirements; Safari and IE9 support H.264. With this status quo, all publishers and developers using the <video> tag will be forced to support multiple formats.”

Google has come to the conclusion that there will never be agreement on H.264, since it is proprietary technology owned by MPEG LA, a firm that forms and licenses patent pools. Thus the search giant decided to draw a line in the sand and double down on the WebM. WebM, for those of you who may not remember, is the open codec/standard for web video created by Google.

Unlike H.264, WebM/VP8′s patents have been released royalty-free. Apple and Microsoft are part of H.264′s patent pool, as are companies like Sony, Sharp, Cisco, LG Electronics, Hp, Toshiba and Dolby. Absent from the list: Mozilla and Google.

The tech titan also addressed the criticism that it should have selected H.264 as its baseline codec because of its wider adoption:

“To use and distribute H.264, browser and OS vendors, hardware manufacturers, and publishers who charge for content must pay significant royalties—with no guarantee the fees won’t increase in the future. To companies like Google, the license fees may not be material, but to the next great video startup and those in emerging markets these fees stifle innovation.”

Google also argued in its response that a community development process is superior to one where multiple parties have incentives to collect patent royalties.


Neither Side Will Budge


While Google may not have intended to start a war, it has essentially drawn the battle lines and made it clear that there will be no compromise. On the one hand, you have Google, Opera, Mozilla and and its WebM allies, which include WinAmp, Skype, AMD, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Logitech and Nvidia. On the other hand, you have the participants of the H.264 patent pool. There isn’t a single company that is part of both WebM and H.264.

The final paragraph of Google’s response may be the most telling thing in this whole affair, though:

“Bottom line, we are at an impasse in the evolution of HTML video. Having no baseline codec in the HTML specification is far from ideal. This is why we’re joining others in the community to invest in WebM and encouraging every browser vendor to adopt it for the emerging HTML video platform (the WebM Project team will soon release plugins that enable WebM support in Safari and IE9 via the HTML standard <video> tag). Our choice was to make a decision today and invest in open technology to move the platform forward, or to accept the status quo of a fragmented platform where the pace of innovation may be clouded by the interests of those collecting royalties. Seen in this light, we are choosing to bet on the open web and are confident this decision will spur innovation that benefits users and the industry.”

Google says that it hopes that the other browsers will adopt WebM, but it’s clear they already know that won’t happen. Why else would Google build Safari and IE 9 plugins to add WebM support into those browsers?

The inability for both sides to compromise will almost certainly stifle the growth of innovation surrounding HTML5 video. Why would anybody invest time and money into a technology that will only work in some browsers, when Flash is guaranteed to work in all browsers (except Mobile Safari)?

Unless both sides find a way to compromise, the future of web video will continue to be in Adobe’s hands. We doubt either side is going to budge anytime soon. The citizens of the web will end up being the losers of this affair.

More About: chrome, Google, google chrome, h.264, HTML 5, HTML5, Opinion, trending, video, webm, youtube