Last fall, Mozilla made available a Web page than can detect when Firefox users are running out-of-date plug-ins that often go unpatched, and therefore offer an entry point for hackers. This week, Mozilla announced that its plug-in check page now works with competing browsers as well.
Outdated plug-ins cause problems because they don't have up-to-date security patches applied. Still, according to Mozilla, some studies say as many as 80 percent of Web browser users are running older versions of plug-ins. Since last fall when it released the plug-in check tool for Firefox, the group says that 60 percent of Firefox users are running the most recent version of Adobe's Macromedia Flash.
Mozilla has made its plans public for Firefox 4, the next major upgrade of its open-source Web browser, and it looks like we may see an official launch before the end of the year.
Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox, posted a short blog on the product plans Monday afternoon and linked to an extensive presentation he gave about its next-generation browser, which Mozilla expects to be "super-duper fast," he said.
Google made big headlines last month with the launch of the Nexus One smartphone and its adventures in China. But the steady growth of its Chrome Web browser may turn out to be an equally important story, particularly with its browser-based Chrome OS on the way.
In January, Chrome climbed to 5.2 percent of the global browser market, up from 4.6 percent in December, according to Web metrics company NetApplications. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Internet Explorer fell from 62.7 percent to 62.2 percent of the market, and Mozilla saw Firefox slip from 24.6 percent to 24.4 percent.
On Thursday an official with Mozilla made a statement that raised many an eyebrow in the industry: He recommended users of Mozilla's Firefox browser change their search engine from Google to Microsoft's Bing.
A surprising recommendation, coming from Mozilla's director of community development Asa Dotzler, since Google and Mozilla are partners while Microsoft and Mozilla compete fiercely in the browser market. What sparked Dotzler's statement was a comment regarding privacy made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt during a recent interview with CNBC.
I have been writing about open source technology relatively frequently over the last year and have been a little surprised at its growing acceptance in the business enterprise. (Perhaps this reflects 10 years producing a magazine about Microsoft in financial services - Microsoft folks not being big fans of open source.)
So I was interested in an editorial by Jason Pontin in MIT's Technology review. Writing about an article in the magazine in which David Talbot reports on efforts to to make online video open, Pontin writes:
The innovations such openness would encourage are impossible to predict. Talbot quotes Chris Blizzard, director of technical evangelism at Mozilla, which develops the open Web browser Firefox: "Nobody is going to tell you they want something before it emerges--rather, the experience of the Web is: 'Holy Cow, I can do this other thing now!' Open standards create low friction. Low friction creates innovation. Innovation makes people want to pick it up and use it."