All about Edge: Extensions, high performance asm.js, and no more ActiveX

All about Edge: Extensions, high performance asm.js, and no more ActiveX | Ars Technica

Microsoft has spent the past few days talking about the new browser formerly known as Project Spartan: what it will do, what it won’t do, and what it won’t do yet but will do soon.

We already knew that Microsoft Edge would remove much of the legacy technology that’s found in Internet Explorer. Microsoft has given perhaps the fullest rundown of what’s not in Edge this week. The two traditional ways of extending Internet Explorer, ActiveX and Browser Helper Objects, are both gone. This means no plugins, no toolbars, no Java, no Silverlight. It doesn’t, however, mean no Flash; that’s a built-in capability. PDF rendering is also built-in.

In their place are Chrome-like extensions built in HTML and JavaScript. However, these aren’t coming immediately. Although Microsoft has demonstrated the popular Reddit Enhancement Suite running in Edge with (the company says) minimal changes from its Chrome version, the initial release of Edge won’t support these extensions. There’s no specific timeline on when they’ll be added.

The new extensibility support will be quite broad. Internet Explorer currently has lots of extension points for developers; they can add, for example, custom download managers, custom protocol handlers, context menu entries, sidebars, and security filters. All of these and more will be handled by the new extensibility system when it’s available.

The company has also said that it has a “long-term goal” of bringing extension support to its mobile browser, though initial support will be for PC only. More specifically, it will be for Windows 10 only. There are “no plans” to make the browser (or its core engine) open source, and doing so would apparently come at “massive cost.”

Unlike Internet Explorer, Edge won’t try to mimic older browsers in order to work around page bugs and glitches. This means that document modes and layout quirks are both gone. Edge will always be at the cutting edge, offering Microsoft’s newest take on Web standards. This commitment to standards also means that various non-standard technologies are being removed: Edge won’t support VML vector graphics, VBScript scripts, DirectX filters and transitions, or non-standard scripting techniques for responding to events or accessing CSS styling.

Read More: All about Edge: Extensions, high performance asm.js, and no more ActiveX | Ars Technica.

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Microsoft has released its new browser Spartan, here’s what you need to know

Microsoft has released what is likely the most anticipated feature for Windows 10 in 2015, Spartan. The new browser comes with an updated UI, an overhauled engine under the hood and what will soon be a refreshed branding that puts Internet Explorer on the back burner.

To get your hands on Spartan, you will need to download the latest release of Windows 10 from Microsoft. You can do this by signing up to be a Windows Insider or if you already have Windows 10 installed, by updating your OS; you can learn more here.

Once updated, Spartan will be pinned to your taskbar and you can launch it from there. An interesting aside is that if you are performing a fresh install of Windows 10, IE will not be pinned to the taskbar and only Spartan will be pinned by default. IE 11 will still be present in the build but this marks the shift of Microsoft pushing users towards its new browser.

Spartan has a couple of items that we had previously highlighted when we got our hands on the browser a few weeks ago that include Cortana integration, reading mode and reading lists. In addition to these features, F12 dev tools are included as well and Inking support has been added too.

With inking support, you can write or type directly on the page and then share this ‘Web Note’ (Microsoft’s term) via email or social media; you can also save them to OneNote as well.

Not everything is working though, Microsoft noted that the new download manager is not yet functional, extensions are still a work in process and offline reading for reading lists (and syncing) has yet to be turned on.

As with any piece of beta software, there will be bugs and features may not always work as expected. Keep that in mind as this is the first public iteration of Spartan but know that as we approach RTM, the browser will mature.

via Microsoft has released its new browser Spartan, here’s what you need to know.

Unreal Engine 4 support added to Firefox without plugins

Mozilla and Epic Games have teamed up to bring Unreal Engine 4 to Firefox, expanding on the various graphics libraries the web browser supports. Mozilla added Unreal Engine 3 support to Firefox back in March 2013, so it’s no surprise the updated game engine is also compatible.

The demo that Mozilla posted on their YouTube channel shows the latest iteration of the Unreal Engine running at “near-native speeds” without the use of plugins. This is particularly good news for web developers, who won’t need to get Firefox users to download anything before their impressive 3D in-browser games can be played.

But it’s not just 3D games that Unreal Engine 4 will support in Firefox: basic 2D animations for platforming games are also possible, as shown by Unreal’s Swing Ninja demo. The aim for integrating the Unreal Engine 4 in Firefox is to create in-browser games that are “almost indistinguishable” from those that you “have had to wait to download and install”.

Mozilla will be at the Game Developer’s Conference next week to show more of Unreal Engine 4 in Firefox. Meanwhile, PC gamers and PlayStation 4 owners will be able to get their first taste of an Unreal Engine 4-powered game in April, when survival horror game Daylight is launched.

via Unreal Engine 4 support added to Firefox without plugins – TechSpot.

Mozilla’s “Do Not Track” browser stirs up concern from advertisers

Online businesses often rely on advertising to bring in revenue. Unfortunately, when tracking the activity of users in an effort to drive targeted ads, the line between innocent observation and privacy violation begins to blur. The use of third-party cookies is one of the easiest ways for a company to learn more about prospective customers; something that Mozilla plans to tackle in an upcoming version of the Firefox browser.

Mozilla first announced the “Do Not Track” feature back in February, but later said that it had to undergo further testing. Despite the ongoing hiatus, the company continues to face backlash from the advertising community, with many claiming that this will have a negative impact on the entire online network. Mike Zaneis, general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, called the new browser a “nuclear first strike” against advertisers.

It’s important to note that Mozilla does not intend to block all cookies, just those that are deemed undesirable. After all, cookies can be beneficial and serve purposes such as remembering settings for sites that we frequently visit. The company has been working alongside the Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford to develop the list of websites whose data gathering priveleges will be axed; an initiative being called the “Cookie Clearinghouse”.

Aleecia McDonald, director of privacy at CIS, added, “The Cookie Clearinghouse will create, maintain and publish objective information. Web browser companies will be able to choose to adopt the lists we publish to provide new privacy options to their users.”

In response to the statement, advertisers argue that numerous online businesses, many of which are small web establishments, will cease to function if cookie-blocking browsers become the standard. However, this already seems to be the case; Apple’s Safari browser carries a similar privacy feature, while Microsoft’s IE10 has made the “Do Not Track” technology its default setting. “It’s troubling,” added Lou Mastria, the managing director for the Digital Advertising Alliance. “They’re putting this under the cloak of privacy, but it’s disrupting a business model.”

What are your thoughts on Mozilla’s new feature? Do cookie-blocking browsers pose a threat to the sustainability of the internet, or are ad agencies just trying to protect their own livelihood?

via Mozilla’s “Do Not Track” browser stirs up concern from advertisers – TechSpot.

How to switch back to Firefox’s old download manager

If you’re a Firefox user, you may have noticed a few changes in the latest version of Mozilla’s browser, which “turned 20” last week.

Among them: a new Download Manager. It’s a small tweak, and I’d say one for the better, but as I noted in Monday’s post about Google Chrome’s bookmark spacing, not everybody appreciates sudden and unrequested changes.

First, let’s talk about what’s new. At the right edge of the search bar, alongside the Home button (unless you’ve moved it), you’ll see a new Downloads button.

In Firefox 20, Download Manager is now a part of Library.

When you’re downloading a file, that button changes to a progress meter, showing you the time remaining. And if you click it, you’ll see a drop-down menu with your three most recent downloads. That’s pretty handy, in my opinion.

Previously, you had to press Ctrl-J to bring up Firefox’s download manager, which is still the keyboard shortcut—except that now download manager is part of the Library, home of your browser history, tags, and bookmarks.

No like? No problem. Here’s how to bring back the old standalone download manager:

1. Open a new tab.

2. Type about:config, then press Enter.

3. Paste the following into the search field: browser.download.useToolkitUI

4. Under the Value field, right-click false and then click Toggle. That should set the Value to “true.”

5. Restart Firefox.

Now, when you click that Download button or hit Ctrl-J, you’ll get the old-school download manager. And if you decide you prefer the new one after all, just repeat the process.

Which one do you think you’ll use?

via How to switch back to Firefox’s old download manager | PCWorld.