Microsoft announced on Thursday that it will sell a European version of Windows 7 sans Internet Explorer. The decision to ship these specialized “E” versions of Windows 7 arises from a January decision by the European Commission that determined the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows violated European competition law. The new E versions will be available in 23 different languages and are projected to launch at the same time as regular versions of Windows 7. One side benefit of this “un-bundling” is that computer manufacturers will be able to install their browser of choice on Windows 7 systems. Mozilla, Opera, Google; get to courting… Hooray for fair business practice, umm, if that’s what this is.
As Opera continues to chip away at its competition and gain mobile market share, you can bet it’s not resting on any laurels. The software company has just released its 9.7 Beta version for Windows Mobile and promises to render pages faster and with better compression. The new version also includes Opera Widgets manager. Do note that this is still in beta and will have some issues:
- Opera Turbo in Opera Mobile is still a preview-feature;
- Downloads don’t work while Opera Turbo is enabled.
- Some settings (such as toggle on/off images) do not apply when Opera Turbo is enabled.
- On older WM 5.0 Devices with 480×800 resolution, switching between portrait and landscape may cause display errors. This is due to lack of support for this resolution in early versions of Microsoft’s driver.
- Some input method editors are known not to work well with Opera because they do not comply with Microsoft’s SIP and/or IME standard. When such an editor is detected by Opera, Opera will use a known (default) input method instead. An exception is EzInput v1.5, where the phone keypad and compact QUERTY, ABC mode doesn’t work, but the rest of the modes work fine. We recommend upgrading to EzInput v2.0 to avoid this.
- Only support for FlashLite 3.x. No Flash plugin included.
Still, it looks like a fine upgrade and a great direction for Opera mobile, especially with the new widgets manager. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Lots of Google fans who are using Mac computers have been waiting for what feels like ages for Chrome. Well, it’s finally here. The only catch is that Google doesn’t recommend downloading it right now. Say what? That’s right, it’s still in very early stages and it’s actually not for general consumption just yet. So far, getting it installed is as simple as most Mac app installations are. The look mimics that of Safari 4 to keep the Apple feel, but reports are saying that some aspects of Chrome seem faster than Safari or Firefox 3. It’s available for download if you want to try it out, but pages like YouTube don’t work and editing settings is not entirely available, either. Just remember before you go crazy that it’s still in a pre-release stage and recommended for devs only.
AdMob, a leading mobile ad service provider, issues mobile metrics and analysis each month and today it has released April data. Key points from AdMob’s press release:
- While Gartner estimated global smartphone sales represented 12 percent of total device sales in 2008, 35 percent of AdMobÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worldwide ad requests in April 2009 came from smartphones. This means that smartphones accounted for nearly 3 times more usage than their relative market share.
- The iPhone OS had 8 percent of the smartphone market, but generated 43 percent of mobile Web requests and 65 percent of HTML usage.
- The Android OS share of the smartphone market was less than 1 percent, but generated 3 percent of mobile Web requests and 9 percent of HTML usage.
- The Symbian OS had 52 percent of the smartphone market, but generated only 36 percent of mobile Web usage and 7 percent of HTML usage.
- Usage of mobile Web sites greatly out paces usage of HTML sites on smartphones running the Symbian and RIM Operating System (OS).
- 24 percent of US requests were made over a Wi-Fi network. The top five Wi-Fi devices in terms of usage were the iPhone, iPod touch, Sony PSP, HTC Dream (G1), and HTC Dash.
There are definitely some interesting takeaways here — the most interesting to us is actually the Symbian stat. Symbian has 52 percent of the market but generated only 7 percent of HTML usage. 7 percent! Conversely, the iPhone holds about 8 percent of the smartphone market but accounts for 65 percent of mobile HTML usage. Even Android, which accounts for 1 percent of smartphones worldwide, topped Symbian with 9 percent of HTML traffic.
The Webkit-based S60 browser is certainly capable of displaying HTML but as we’ve commented on numerous occasions, it’s clunky and slow. We really (REALLY) hope this will be a particular area of focus as the Symbian Foundation continues work on Symbian^2 because S60 5th Edition hardly addresses the issue. Oh and RIM, your browser is even worse… But you know this.
While Google’s Chrome Web browser is still extremely young in terms of development, there are a few areas where it most definitely pushed browser technology forward. One such area is tabbed browsing. As you likely already know, Chrome (and now Internet Explorer 8 as well) treats each open tab as a separate running process. This setup drastically reduces the potential for a browser crash — theoretically, issues with a website open in one tab will not affect other tabs or general browser operation — as well as speeding up performance and going great lengths to improve browser security. As for when we might see the new tab process implementation in a Firefox release, incremental milestones are scheduled throughout 2009 but we likely won’t see full implementation until next year. Mozilla’s post covering process splitting does mention some elements that are currently undecided, such as “taking ChromiumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s networking stack to replace Necko” might help speed the release process up a bit, but we don’t mind waiting as long as it’s done right.
[Via The Next Web]
Following a report from Forbes last Friday, Opera has stated publicly — at least in PR speak — that it denies suggestions of one or more US carrier agreements rumored to be announced in early April. Forbes’ report suggested US carriers were finally “coming around” and the Oslo-based browser company would be announcing agreements to bring its mobile browser to subsidized handsets in the US at CTIA. Opera’s public response:
Opera is aware of statements in the media that Opera will announce one or more agreements with US operators in early April.
Opera would like to clarify that it has no plans to announce any US operator agreements to the OSE in early April as mentioned in the media.
Well that doesn’t leave much room for debate now does it? The idea of less-savvy users in the US having access to a more real version of the web from feature phones was definitely exciting as typical, casual users are unlikely to seek out a browser like Opera Mobile on their own. Alas, no such luck if this announcement is taken at face value. We’re sure Opera will continue to push its browser to US carriers and we can only hope deals will be announced at some point. That point however, will not be next week at CTIA.
Forbes is reporting that Opera is bypassing handset manufacturers and striking deals with US wireless carriers in an attempt to further the distribution of its popular mobile web browser. Opera currently has agreements with European carriers Vodafone and T-Mobile that places the Opera browser on the carrier’s mobile phones. A loose-lipped Opera spokesman revealed that Opera will also be announcing several US carrier deals at the upcoming CTIA Wireless conference in early April. The spokesperson declined to identify the carriers but the US only has 4 major carriers so you can take your pick. Regardless or which carriers will be scoring Opera Mobile come April, this will be a big step for both Opera and feature phone customers whose browsing experiences are about to get a boost.
Microsoft announced the availability of Internet Explorer 8 today and the preliminary reactions around the net have been pretty good. While betas and RC versions have been floating around for quite a while, the final version of IE8 will be available for your download at Noon EST. With its promised security enhancements, color-coded tabbed browsing and the incorporation of add-on accelerators, IE8 may be worth a try for those who have not already sampled the beta or RC1 versions. Let’s hope Microsoft’s servers can stand up to the demand this time.
Microsoft’s Engineering Windows 7 Blog posted details on some of the new features users will see in the release candidate version of Windows 7. One of the more interesting notes is the expansion of the “Windows Features” control panel, which allows users to enable or disable certain functionality within Windows 7. Along with the typical applications listed in Vista and Windows 7 Beta version, the list has been expanded to include the following applications:
- Windows Media Player
- Windows Media Center
- Windows DVD Maker
- Internet Explorer 8
- Windows Search
- Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
- Windows Gadget Platform
- Fax and Scan
- XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)
No, you did not misread the list. Microsoft is indeed allowing its users to disable Internet Explorer 8 along with Windows Media Player, Windows Search, Windows Media Center and more. Microsoft does clarify that “disabling” does not equate with “removal” — the application’s components will remain an integral part of the operating system and can not be removed. This is not the complete removal option many have been waiting for Microsoft to implement but it is, nonetheless, a step in the right direction.
Apple has finally released its much anticipated Safari update this morning along with a host of performance upgrades and feature additions. Tagged Safari 4 beta, the new version is available as a download from the Apple site only for the time being and will not update automatically via the Apple Software Update system. In terms of notable enhancements, here are some highlights:
- Top Sites (pictured above) – A graphical representation of your most frequently-visited websites with one-click launching
- Cover Flow – Browse bookmarks and history with Apple’s Cover Flow UI
- Full History Search – Keyword history search with Cover Flow UI
- Tabs – Tabs now appear above the address bar
- Windows Native Look – Safari 4 beta for Windows now adopts the look and feel of a standard Windows program
So who’s excited? Are any non-Safari users going to give it another try with this release?