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from the L.A. Times

Category: Chrome

Google's Chrome browser overtakes Internet Explorer 8

Google's Chrome browser entered the market in 2008.Did Google's Chrome browser just become the globe's most popular?

That's what StatCounter is reporting.

It says Chrome topped Internet Explorer 8 in the last week of November, when Chrome took 23.6% of the global market and IE8 took 23.5%.

Of course, if you combine all of the versions of Internet Explorer, it's still the browser champ. And in the United States, Internet Explorer is still on top, with 27% of the market.

So what's driving the growth? Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, says businesses as well as consumers are adopting Chrome.

Microsoft, which includes Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, used to have a lock on the browser market. Google didn't even enter the market until 2008.

But Chrome recently surpassed Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, which it used to support. Firefox launched in 2004 and drove innovation in the market, which was dominated by Internet Explorer since IE overtook Netscape's browser in the late 1990s.

Google CEO Larry Page was always a proponent of Google's getting into the browser market. Google began to build a browser in 2006, concerned that existing browsers were not good enough to support its online services or might lead users away from its search engine. (Microsoft uses Internet Explorer to send users to its own Bing search engine.)

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Photo: The logo for the Google Chrome Web browser is shown during a news conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in September 2008. Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press. 

Black Friday? How about ‘update your parents' browser day’?

Dell from 1999, suring the World Wide Web

The Thanksgiving holiday, for many, is about digging into a turkey and sides with friends and family, celebrating and honoring what we have in this world we each have to be thankful for.

The day after, Black Friday, for another subset of us, is all about shopping (unless you're like me and you avoid the craziness at retail stores for the weekend).

But Alexis Madrigal, an editor and writer at The Atlantic magazine, has a fantastic idea that is catching on with the blogosphere -- "Update your parents' browser day."

Madrigal, in an article on The Atlantic's website, describes Thanksgiving as a "time when families gather together to share food, extend gratitude, and marvel at how Dad still uses Internet Explorer 6. No, seriously, Dad, how can you be using a browser developed during the Clinton administration? That was like 10 presidents ago."

To alleviate this problem and get the folks up to date with the latest in Web browsing technology, Madrigal suggests updating browsers in top secret, covert-ops style.

"If a parent catches you, don't tell them that you're changing their Web browser," he suggests. "Say instead that you're checking for viruses or installing new drivers or that you're 'freeing up space on their hard drive,' which parents always seem to worry about. (And though you're lying, if they do have viruses or are running out of hard drive space or need new drivers for some reason, be a good boy and do that stuff too.)"

While I'm wholly behind the world leaving outdated Web browsers behind, I'm going to have to advocate for being on the up-and-up about the move. Let your parents, or your grand pappy, your tio and tia, your girlfriend or whoever is behind the times know what you're doing and why -- security, speed, better websites, graphics, video and all that.

The website LifeHacker took Madrigal's idea and suggested even more shady activity, namely, if your parents use Microsoft's Internet Explorer, that you should replace it with Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome (Opera is a good option too). The site even suggested going as far as changing the icon on the desktop to look like IE and downloading themes that will make other browsers look like the Microsoft app.

Of course, Microsoft doesn't advocate abandoning Internet Explorer. In fact, the tech giant suggested (unsurprisingly) to update your family to the latest version of IE -- in two separate company blog posts.

Regardless of your browser preference, many blogs and tech websites (such as Gizmodo, ReadWriteWeb, ArsTechnica, Computerworld, Neowin and TechCrunch) seem to agree that "Update your parents' browser day" is an idea we can all get behind.

"No more excuses," Madrigal wrote. "These browsers must be upgraded. Do it for the Web developers. Do it for the designers. Do it for your parents. On Friday, Nov. 25, every old Web browser must go."

Join Madrigal's call to action, won't you? I might even update the browsers of a co-worker or two Friday if I can.

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Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Dell computer from 1999, surfing the Web. Credit: Dell/Reuters

Mozilla and Microsoft launch 'Firefox with Bing' browser

Firefox with Bing

Mozilla has teamed with Microsoft to bring more Bing to Firefox.

On Wednesday the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit group that builds the Firefox Web browser, released Firefox with Bing, a customized version of the browser that makes Bing.com the default homepage and sets Bing as the default search engine.

Of course, any user of Firefox can go into the browser's settings and make those changes themselves if they want, and there is even a "Bing Search for Firefox" add-on that will do the same. But many users don't mess with their settings too much, which is why Google (the usual default for Firefox) is the most widely used search engine among Firefox users.

Google competes with Bing on the search side and Google's Chrome browser competes with Firefox. Microsoft, of course, makes a Firefox rival in Internet Explorer.

Mozilla, in a blog post, said that "nearly 20 customized versions of Firefox" are available from its partners, including Bing, Yahoo (which now uses Bing to power its search as well), Twitter and Yandex.

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Image: A screen shot of Firefox with Bing's download website. Credit: Microsoft and Mozilla

Microsoft security tools deleting Google Chrome from Windows PCs

Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection -- Win32/Zbot -- Google Chrome

Hundreds of Google Chrome users (at least) found their Internet browser of choice removed from their Windows PCs on Friday after Microsoft deleted the Web-surfing app.

And no, Microsoft didn't start pushing out Chrome because it's gaining market share and posing a threat to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that the Chrome removals took place due to a mistake on the part of its Microsoft Security Essentials software for Windows.

The Times has found that not only Microsoft Security Essentials but also Microsoft's Forefront Endpoint Protection software can remove Google Chrome as a malware threat. This matches up with reporting from the website ZDnet, which broke news of the Chrome problems Friday morning.

The software errors wrongly spot Chrome as malware to be removed from PCs. For affected users, who have included a couple of Times staffers, simply trying to reinstall Chrome doesn't solve the problem. Instead, Microsoft's software removes the browser again.

The Windows-maker, however, said that an update to Microsoft Security Essentials' software has been pushed out to the Web and it's working on making everything well again.

Here's the explanation from Microsoft:

On September 30th, 2011, an incorrect detection for PWS:Win32/Zbot was identified and as a result, Google Chrome was inadvertently blocked and in some cases removed from customers PCs. We worked quickly to provide an updated signature (1.113.672.0) at 9:57 am PDT to fix this issue.  Affected customers should manually update Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) with the latest signatures. To do this, simply launch MSE, go to the update tab and click the Update button, and then reinstall Google Chrome. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our customers.

Google, for its part, published a blog post on the matter, explaining to Chrome users in a series of steps how to reinstall the browser after Microsoft's mistake.

It's also working on releasing an update to Chrome to help protect the browser from the buggy version of Microsoft Security Essentials.

From Google's blog post:

Earlier today, we learned that the Microsoft Security Essentials tool began falsely identifying Google Chrome as a piece of malware ("PWS:Win32/Zbot") and removing it from people's computers.

If Chrome is working correctly for you, then there's no need to take any action.

We are releasing an update that will automatically repair Chrome for affected users over the course of the next 24 hours.

So were you affected? If so, did you see the problem with Microsoft Security Essentials or Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection? If Chrome was removed, but you're back up and running in Chrome now, are your bookmarks and other data still around or wiped out? Sound off in the comments.

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Image: A screen shot of Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection wrongly identifying Google Chrome as malware in its "Win32/Zbot" error. Credit: Paul Olund / Los Angeles Times

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader app bypasses Apple's rules

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader app on an Apple iPad

Amazon's new Kindle Cloud Reader is exactly the sort of iPad app Apple isn't allowing in its App Store.

Built in HTML5, running on the Web and not just iOS, the Kindle Cloud Reader Web app enables Kindle users to not only read e-books they buy from Amazon but buy books from within the app itself.

Unlike Amazon's native iOS Kindle app, Kindle Cloud Reader skips the App Store and iTunes. No downloads required. All that needs to be done to get the Cloud Reader on an iPad is to open Safari and type the right URL, www.amazon.com/cloudreader.

But while users may see a big advantage in being able to read a book from the cloud (i.e. the Internet) and buy a new book all in the same app -- as Kindle Cloud Reader offers -- the real winner here could end up being Amazon.

That's because anything sold through Apple's App Store or iTunes gives Apple a 30% cut of revenue. Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, isn't too keen on forking over a portion of its sales, and Kindle Cloud Reader gives Amazon a book-selling iPad app that it can have full control over.

Apple doesn't allow the buying of digital content (books, video, music, etc.) from within an app unless that content is sold through iTunes and the App Store -- unless that content is delivered in a subscription, as magazines or newspapers are. Apple's iOS app rules don't allow an app to link to an outside website where users can buy anything, which is why Amazon removed a link to its Kindle store from its iOS Kindle app and Barnes & Noble did the same with its Nook app.

The HTML5 app, which also works with Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome browsers on Macs and PCs (no Firefox, Opera or IE support yet), gives Amazon and its customers a way to get around the App Store restrictions.

Amazon isn't the only company looking to HTML5 for an App Store workaround -- Wal-Mart's Vudu is doing the same with its video storefront and Rdio last week skipped the "Apple tax," as some call it.

As HTML5 becomes more popular for building websites and Web apps, we can probably expect to see more Web apps to pop up that also set their own rules.

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Image: A screen shot of the Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader HTML5 app on an Apple iPad. Credit: Amazon /Apple

Google shows off new search features such as desktop voice search

Voicesearch-screenshot

Google on Tuesday showed off some new tricks for easier and faster Web searching on the desktop.

"We are breaking down the barriers between you and the knowledge you seek," Amit Singhal, one of Google's top search engineers said at a press conference in San Francisco.

One tool lets users with the Chrome browser search for information on a desktop computer by using voice commands just as they would on a mobile device powered by Google's Android software. Another tool which is available in extensions for Google's Chrome browser and Mozilla's Firefox browser allows the user to drag a digital image into the search box to find out about it.

Google also unveiled Instant Pages that immediately load Web pages after users click on search results, cutting several seconds from the search process.

On average users spend nine seconds typing in a query and 15 seconds sifting through the results. Instant Pages, which is available for the Chrome browser, builds on Google Instant, which the company launched last year. Google Instant shows a page of search results as the user types a query.

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Google shuts off Chrome access to offline Gmail, for now

6a00d8341c630a53ef0148c6b9ad0c970c-800wi Gmail users who like to use email offline might have to downgrade their Web browsers, for now.

On Tuesday, Google shut off offline access to Gmail on Chrome, Safari, Opera and the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The tech giant recommended that Chrome users temporarily switch to older versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox and refuse updates to continue accessing Gmail when not Web-connected.

The shutoff, announced two months ago, is part of a push by Google to switch from Gears -- the desktop software it developed years ago to improve utility for Web applications such as Gmail and Google Docs -- to HTML5.

So how long will this update take? Google promised a new Chrome Web app for using Gmail offline sometime this summer.

"We realize that there will be a temporary gap in Gmail offline access via Chrome," Google said in a blog post, "We are working hard to deliver offline capabilities through a new Gmail Offline Chrome web app as quickly as possible."

Until then, Google said Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3.6 will still work for Gmail users without an Internet connection.

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Photo: The logo for the Google Chrome Web browser. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Google's Sergey Brin talks about Chrome, but won't talk about secret projects

Google-watchers were disappointed that newly (re)minted CEO Larry Page did not make an appearance at Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco.

But co-founder Sergey Brin (wearing his Vibrams) did show up for a question-and-answer session with journalists Wednesday to talk about the new Chrome laptops. But, tsk, tsk, the busybodies in the news corps strayed off-topic.

Brin One asked about Brin's secretive new role at Google post-management shuffle. Brin is rumored to be working on Google's hush-hush social networking projects.

Brin would say only that he is working on "chauffeur," the code name for Google's self-driving cars project, and he hoped to be able to reveal more next year.

"I get the luxury of doing fun things," he said.

Another wanted to know about Google's disclosure in a regulatory filing this week that it was setting aside $500 million for the potential settlement of a U.S. investigation into its advertising business, resulting in lower first-quarter net income.

That's when Brin's new behind-the-scenes role truly came in handy. He joked that he had no clue about the DOJ (as in the Department of Justice), he just knows acronyms such as Cr-48, the first laptop loaded with the Chrome operating system for a pilot program.

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Photo: Google co-founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page Photo credit: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images 

 

Google announces Chrome notebooks from Acer, Samsung available June 15

Acer-zgb-leftangle-640x393

After a prolonged delay, Google on Wednesday unveiled its first notebooks loaded with the Chrome operating system, a widely anticipated push to get consumers to use online applications rather than download software to their computers.

The debut at Google's fourth annual software developers conference in San Francisco escalates the already heated rivalry with Microsoft and its lucrative Office franchise.

The notebooks, which Google calls Chromebooks, will go on sale June 15 in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, the company said.

The first devices from Samsung will cost $429 with Wi-Fi and $499 with 3G. Another from Acer will cost $349. The notebooks can be ordered in the United States from Best Buy and Amazon. Previously, Google Chromebooks were only available through a pilot program.

Samsung-td-640x485 Google co-founder Sergey Brin plugged the new notebooks, which boot up in seconds.

"Chromebooks is venturing into a new model of computing that I don't think was possible previously even a few years ago," Brin said. "It's a much easier way to compute. Ultimately the most precious resource is the user's time."

Brin estimated that 20% of his company still relies on Microsoft Windows, and said that he hopes the percentage will quickly decline. 

"It's a flawed model fundamentally," Brin said. "Chromebooks is a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing your computer on yourself."

He added: "Companies that don't use that model I don't think will be successful."

Google also announced the launch of Chromebooks for business and education. Businesses will pay a $28-per-user monthly subscription, and students and teachers will pay $20 a month.

Sundar Pinchai, senior vice president of Chrome, said the Chromebooks boot up in eight seconds, are always connected to the Web through built-in mobile broadband and have long battery life and built-in security.

Google also said Wednesday that the Chrome Web browser over the last year has more than doubled to 160 million active users, from 70 million active users.

The announcements came on the second day of the Google I/O conference. On the first day, Google announced services to rent movies and listen to music on Android devices.

Brin said Google considers itself fortunate to have had success on the Web with Chrome and on mobile with Android.

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Images: (Top) An Acer Chrome OS notebook computer. (Bottom) A Samsung Chrome OS notebook computer. Credit: Google

Android vs. iPhone: which has the faster web browser? Two studies disagree

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Android phones vs. iPhones -- it's the smart phone equivalent of the Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees.

And two recent studies on which has the speedier web browser -- two studies that contradict each other -- are providing more fuel to the fanboy/girl fire.

According to a new study released today from Blaze Software, web pages load 52% quicker on the Samsung Nexus S running Google's Android 2.3, also known as Android Gingerbread, than the Apple iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3 -- both the latest phones running the latest versions of their respective operating systems.

Blaze, based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, provides services that make websites load faster on mobile devices -- such as smart phones.

Levfcwnc The company said in announcing its study that it ran more than 45,000 webpage loading tests, across the websites of Fortune 1000 firms, on both Android 2.3 and iOS 4.3 to get its results.

"First of all, we found that Android's browser is faster," Blaze said. "Not just a little faster, but a whopping 52% faster. Android's Chrome beat iPhone's Safari by loading 84% of the websites faster, meaning Safari won the race only 16% of the time. While we expected to see one of the browsers come out on top, we didn't expect this gap."

And, in spite of the optimized JavaScript engines in the newest releases of Android and iOS, browsing speed wasn't improved when compared to previous versions of the two mobile operating systems.

"Both Apple and Google tout great performance improvements, but those seem to be reserved to JavaScript benchmarks and high-complexity apps," Blaze said. "If you expect pages to show up faster after an upgrade, you'll be sorely disappointed."

But, as PC World magazine pointed out on its website, the Blaze study contradicts a report released last month from Gomez, a Lexington, Mass., company and owned by Detroit-based Compuware.

Like Blaze, Gomez offers technology to help make websites and apps load faster on mobile devices.

The Gomez study found that Apple's iPhone loaded webpages an average of 17 seconds faster than phones running Google's Android OS.

For its study, Gomez used data from its own customers and looked at 282 million webpages loaded across 200 websites.

While Apple fans could point to the Gomez study and Goolge devotees could tout the Blaze report, PC World said both prove that mobile browser tests are overall unreliable.

"With real-world testing, there too many variables, such as network congestion and server problems," PC World said. "Closed networks and benchmarks, on the other hand, aren't really representative of what real users will experience. In any case, if you're complaining that your super-futuristic smart phone renders pages a second or two slower than the competition, you may want to step back, take a walk and rethink your priorities."

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Top Photo: Samsung's Nexus S mobile phone, the first smartphone to use the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system, is displayed at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 15, 2011. Credit: Albert Gea/Reuters

Bottom Photo: The Verizon iPhone 4 is demoed at a launch event in New York on Jan. 11, 2011. Credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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