Posts tagged Firefox

Windows XP: No IE9 for you

Microsoft becomes first major browser maker to drop support for world’s most popular OS

Microsoft’s new browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), will not run on Windows XP, now or when the software eventually ships, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The move makes Microsoft the first major browser developer to drop support for XP, the world’s most popular operating system, in a future release.

Although Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the list for the IE9 developer preview, it sidestepped the question about which versions of Windows the final browser would support. In an IE9 FAQ, for example, Microsoft responded, “It’s too early to talk about features of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta” to the query, “Will Internet Explorer 9 run on Windows XP?”
dialog box
This dialog box pops up during attempts to install IE9 Platform Preview on Windows XP.

That caused some users to demand a straight answer. “Please tell whether the final version will run on Windows XP SP3 or not,” said someone identified as “eXPerience” in a comment to a blog post by Dean Hachamovich, Microsoft’s general manager for the IE team. “If not, please be clear about it. Really, enough is enough of keeping users in the lurch about Windows XP support.”

Others bashed Microsoft on the assumption that IE9 would never run on XP. “Dropping Windows XP support is one of the worst decisions ever taken by [the] IE team, probably even worse than disbanding the IE team back in the IE6 days,” claimed an anonymous commenter.

Microsoft had offered up broad hints that IE9 was not in Windows XP’s future, however. Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said the new browser needs a “modern operating system,” a phrase that hasn’t been paired with Window XP for years. “Internet Explorer 9 requires the modern graphics and security underpinnings that have come since 2001,” she added, clearly referring to XP, which appeared that year.

Windows XP’s inability to run the Platform Preview or the final browser stems from, IE9’s graphics hardware acceleration, which relies on the Direct2D and DirectWrite DirectX APIs (applications programming interfaces). Support for those APIs is built into Windows 7, and was added to Vista and Windows Server 2008 last October, but cannot be extended to Windows XP.

Some users worried that by halting browser development for Windows XP, Microsoft would repeat a current problem, getting customers to ditch IE6 for a newer version. “Those who choose to stay with XP will be forced to [then] stay forever on IE8, which will become the new IE6,” said a user named Danny Gibbons in a comment on Hachamovich’s blog.

Tough, said Sheri McLeish, Forrester Research’s browser analyst. “This is the stick to get off XP,” she said. Windows XP users will solve the browser problem themselves when they upgrade, as most eventually will, to Windows 7. “What are they going to do, go to Linux or run XP forever?” she asked.

Still, IE9’s inability to run on Windows XP will prevent it from becoming widespread until the nearly-nine-year-old OS loses significant share to Windows 7. According to Web metrics company NetApplications’ most recent data, if IE9 was released today, it would be able to run on just over a quarter — 27% — of all Windows machines.

No other major browser maker has announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP, but several have dropped other operating systems or platforms. Last month, for instance, Mozilla said it would not support Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4, known as “Tiger,” in future upgrades to Firefox. Google’s Chrome for the Mac, meanwhile, only runs on Intel-based Macs, not on the older PowerPC-based machines that were discontinued in 2006.

The IE9 Platform Preview can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site. It requires Windows 7, Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 2008 R2.

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There’s not much new in Thunderbird 8

In line with its recent Firefox 8 update, Mozilla has rolled out version 8 of its open-source email platform. Thunderbird 8.0 follows the pattern of recent major version updates by not actually delivering much in the way of new features — understandable given the number of developers and testers working on Thunderbird are fewer than on Firefox.


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Like Firefox 8, Thunderbird is now based on the latest Mozilla Gecko 8 engine, while add-ons installed by third-party applications are now disabled by default for security reasons. There are also new Search and Find keyboard shortcuts alongside numerous security patches and bug fixes.

The new keyboard shortcuts have come about due to an ambiguity between using the [Ctrl] + [F] shortcut to both search using the Quick Filter and within individual messages depending on what was selected.  Now [Ctrl] + [F] is used specifically to search within selected messages; to search using the Quick Filter bar, use the brand new [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [K] shortcut instead.

Thunderbird 8 also includes what Mozilla describes as “improved accessibility of the attachment list” when composing emails. Changes include subtle alterations to the way attachments are displayed — the size of an attachment is now displayed to the right of the attachment name aligned right in grey, for example, while the overall look is designed to reflect the user’s own operating system, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. Attachments can now be navigated, opened, saved or deleted using keyboard shortcuts –- when selected using the arrow keys, press [Ctrl] + [S] to save the file, for example.

The most noticeable change to Thunderbird 8’s user interface is actually a feature that has gone missing — in previous versions of Thunderbird, the user could switch folder views between all folders, unified, unread, favorites and recent using a clickable bar at the top of the folder pane. This option, described as a “bug”, has been removed in Thunderbird 8, forcing the user to switch views using the View > Folders menu.

For those who cannot live without this feature, it can either be reactivated by tweaking theuserChrome.css file or — of more practical use to most – by installing the Folder Pane View Switcheradd-on.

Version 8 also includes a number of platform-specific fixes that squash bugs and improve stability, plus a number of security fixes. Expect Thunderbird 9 Beta and Earlybird 10 to follow in the next few days, again with minor changes the order of the day.

Thunderbird 8.0 Final is a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

HP pardoned PC biz, but WebOS is still on death row

HP pardoned PC biz, but WebOS is still on death rowJust a day after HP announced that it wouldn’t be spinning off its PC division, with its new CEO Meg Whitman citing “together we are stronger”, the same feeling does not extend to WebOS. British newspaper The Guardian reports on Friday that the company plans to shut down the division and more than 500 jobs could be cut.


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HP acquired the rights to WebOS through its acquisition of Palm in April 2010. The software was meant to power HP’s line of Palm smartphones and the TouchPad, but following the scrapping of both lines in August, the future of WebOS was uncertain.

Both the ditching of the PC division and the end of WebOS were the swan song of ousted CEO Leo Apotheker. The appointment of Whitman led some to believe that there may be some chance that Apotheker’s moves would be reversed. The surprising success of the TouchPad at $99 also added to the chance that WebOS may still have a chance.

Top-level executives in the WebOS division have been fleeing the company, The Guardian notes, with the general consensus of the department being that it would be closing down by the end of the year. HP has apparently also attempted to find a suitor, but there appears to be no interest in the mobile operating system.

This could be due to the fact that both Android and iOS have become so dominant in the mobile space: the two platforms control a large majority of the market, with RIM’s BlackBerry stumbling and Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform unable to gain traction in the market. WebOS would likely struggle to make any appreciable dent in the dominance of Apple and Google in the space.

HP didn’t respond to our requests for comment on the status of WebOS were as of press time.

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