By Peter Bright, Ars Technica
The current trend in browser design, led by Google Chrome, is to scale back the browser’s interface so that it takes less and less of the screen, devoting more room to the web content itself. Windows 8′s Metro design similarly removes window chrome to put the focus on content.
Metro Internet Explorer 10 is the logical conclusion of this trend: Most of the time it has no visible interface at all, leaving only the webpage visible. Its app bar, displayed by swiping from the top or bottom of the screen or right clicking the mouse, contains tabs, the address bar, and so on.
The Metro version of Internet Explorer feels slick and comfortable using both touch and mouse and keyboard interaction. Particular highlights are the tile-based favorites view and the tab thumbnails, both shown to good effect in Microsoft’s post.
Internet Explorer 9 introduced some particularly taskbar-oriented features: support for pinning sites to the taskbar, and the ability for those pinned sites to create custom options in the Jump list. In Windows 8, sites can be pinned to the Start screen to make them instantly accessible. Sites pinned this way can even update their tile to show status notifications — much in the way that “real” apps can do. However, the Jump lists are tucked away, only available from within Internet Explorer.
Sandbox protection of this kind isn’t perfect — there are various techniques for escaping from the sandbox and increasing privileges — but it serves as another measure attackers have to defeat if they want to exploit users.
Enhanced Protected Mode further reduces the rights that each low-privilege process has: Not only do they not have write permission to the file system, they also lose read permission. This makes the sandbox even harder to escape, but it comes at a cost: It breaks virtually all current plugins.
The Metro browser is already plugin-free, but the desktop browser is not. Enhanced Protected Mode won’t be the default on the desktop (though this will be an option) to ensure that plugins remain compatible. If Enhanced Protected Mode is enabled, then any attempt to use an incompatible plugin will result in a prompt to disable the mode for that tab, to allow the plugin to work.
With the systemwide anti-exploitation features that Internet Explorer 10 is also using, it’s shaping up to be the most secure Internet Explorer ever.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.
Mozilla has released Firefox 11, adding some new developer tools, support for the SPDY protocol and the ability to sync your add-ons between computers.
This release is not recommended for drummers, but everyone else can grab Firefox 11 from the official Firefox download page, or you can just wait for the automated update system to work its magic.
The big news in this release is the new add-on syncing tool. Firefox Sync has long handled syncing bookmarks, preferences, passwords, history and open tabs across computers, but until now syncing add-ons was an entirely manual process. Add-on syncing has been a feature request for Firefox Sync pretty much since syncing was announced in 2010, but until to day it wasn’t available.
If you’d like to include add-ons in the list of items synced, just open up Firefox’s preference panel, head to the sync tab and check the new add-ons option.
Firefox 11 also has some new features for web developers, including the Tilt 3-D code inspector. Derived from the Tilt plug-in, the 3-D code inspector is a WebGL-based visualization of the page’s DOM and HTML structure. When you select “inspect element” Firefox will bring up a breadcrumb-style menu bar at the bottom of the page. In Firefox 11 you’ll find that a new button “3D” has joined the HTML and Style buttons in the page inspector menu bar.
This release adds a new Style Editor to Firefox’s developer toolkit. The Style Editor offers a two-pane view for browsing all of a webpage’s styles, both inline and external stylesheets. The right-hand pane displays the styles as plain text (with syntax highlighting), while the left pane shows the list of all your style sources. Make changes to the stylesheet and your changes are reflected on the webpage in real time. When you’ve got things looking the way you’d like you can then save the modified stylesheet.
If the new developer features convince you to switch back from Chrome, you’ll be glad to know that Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies directly from Google Chrome.
Other new features in Firefox 11 include preliminary support for SPDY, Google’s alternative to the ubiquitous HTTP protocol. SPDY, pronounced “speedy,” isn’t quite ready for prime time yet in Firefox and is disabled by default. But if you’d like to test it out (Twitter is using SPDY where possible, as is Google) head to about:config and set
network.http.spdy.enabled to true.
With Firefox 11 officially released, Firefox 12 moves to the beta channel and Firefox 13 to the Aurora channel. As of this writing, those channels don’t appear to have been updated just yet, but if you’re using either expect an update to arrive in the next day or two.