At 15, Microsoft's Internet Explorer at a crossroads

Thanks to corporate use and ties to Windows, Internet Explorer has remained dominant in the browser space ever since it won the first browser wars with Netscape a decade ago.

However, by allowing the browser to stagnate after the release of Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft created an opening that paved the way for the rise of Firefox and, more recently, Google's Chrome.

As a result Internet Explorer celebrates its 15th birthday Monday as market leader and like an upstart trying to compete against powerful rivals.

Arguably, the browser has never been more important--or competitive. As of July, Microsoft … Read more

What's in store for IE9 beta?

Microsoft is getting close to releasing a beta version of Internet Explorer 9--the company's latest bid to regain lost ground in the browser market.

At last month's financial analyst meeting, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner casually mentioned that the beta would be coming in September. Microsoft has already shown the revamped IE9 engine through a series of public preview releases, but next month's beta will be the first chance to see what IE9 has in store in terms of its look and feel.

The current preview version, released last week, shows some of the features of the browser--including support for hardware acceleration and HTML5. The company has also significantly sped up its JavaScript engine, a feature that is often used in comparing browsers and one in which IE has badly trailed its major rivals.

However, the preview version focuses on showing off the new rendering engine and lacks even the most basic navigational features such as an address bar or back button.

Microsoft has been largely mum on what to expect as far as the design of IE9's interface, but in an interview with CNET on Wednesday, Ryan Gavin said that the goal is to get out of the way and let the content shine.

"The browser is the theater," Gavin said. "We're not the play." … Read more

Report: In IE8, Web ads won out over privacy

Efforts to build Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 with more robust privacy settings were reportedly stifled by the needs of online advertisers to track user activity, according to a story in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

In designing the browser in early 2008, IE8's development team, led by manager Dean Hachamovitch, wanted to implement new privacy features that would limit third parties from easily tracking mouse clicks and other user activity, according to the Journal. The effort was seen as an attempt to distinguish Internet Explorer from up-and-coming rivals like Firefox, which had gradually been grabbing more of IE'… Read more

Microsoft defends IE8 following hacking contest

Though Internet Explorer 8 was only one of several products hacked in a recent contest, Microsoft is standing up for its browser.

Microsoft's official Windows Security blog on Friday discussed the specific features that were hacked to win the contest, explaining that IE's security techniques aren't designed to thwart every attack forever, but more to slow down the bad buys and make it harder for them to exploit vulnerabilities.

Last Wednesday's annual Pwn2Own hacking contest at the CanSecWest security show in Vancouver, B.C., pitted security experts and researchers against each other to see who was … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 1192: The ethical standards of GoDaddy (podcast)

We accidentally besmirch the reputation of Danica Patrick, come up with some reasons why Bing might actually work (except for how it apparently means "disease" in Chinese), and take to task the millions of people who are still deliberately clicking on spam.

Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 1192

WSJ on iPad for $17.99 a month, magazines to be at or near newsstand prices?

Gmail to alert users to suspicious activity

Microsoft'… Read more

Microsoft investigates new Internet Explorer flaw

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it is investigating another flaw in Internet Explorer, this time a vulnerability that could result in an unauthorized disclosure of information for users running its browser on older operating systems.

The software maker said in a security advisory that, although it knows of no attacks based on the flaw, the vulnerability could lead to a Web-based attack from either a Web site designed to take advantage of the flaw or from a site that becomes compromised via user-generated text or a malicious ad. Either way, a user would have to actively go to the compromised … Read more

Buzz Out Loud Podcast 1158: Android has been sporked

Nexus One gets multitouch but the rest of the Android universe is left out in the cold. Plus, Motorola's not using the "Droid" name for its upcoming Android phones. What's going on here? Plus, we revel in the intellectual awesomeness of imagining Windows 7 running on an iPad (even in virtual mode). --Molly

Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 1158

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Nexus One gets a software update, enablesmultitouch more

Microsoft actively urges IE 6 users to upgrade

Microsoft has begun a campaign to actively urge users of its 8-year-old Internet Explorer 6 browser to upgrade.

After launching IE 8 in March, Micosoft has concurred with critics that IE 6 is outdated. Many people have dropped the older browser, but the remaining users are often the tough cases--those who don't have a choice because of corporate computing policy or who aren't tech-savvy enough to realize there's a reason to move on.

It's this latter population Microsoft is targeting with a campaign that runs through June 2010 that touts its own IE 8 as a … Read more

Internet Explorer 9 not coming at PDC

LOS ANGELES--Although Microsoft intends to talk a bit about its plans for the future of Internet Explorer this week, the company won't offer preview code of its next browser, CNET has learned.

The software maker is also not planning to announce a move to the WebKit engine, as some had speculated.

In his opening keynote at the Professional Developers Conference on Tuesday, Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie pledged that Microsoft will make Internet Explorer the absolute best Windows browser, but did not offer further details.

Microsoft is expected to talk more about its browser plans as part of Wednesday'… Read more

Wrapping up Speeds and Feeds, part 2: Reliability

Personal computers have become much more reliable over the last 10 years or so, mostly due to the introduction of advanced operating systems with memory protection and hardware abstraction. The hardware itself has gotten better too; uncorrectable random errors are rare in PCs and extraordinarily rare in server-class systems.

These and other improvements have largely eliminated machine crashes. Blue-screen errors on Windows and kernel panics in Linux and Mac OS X still occur, but much more rarely.

Error-reporting services have become common, helping software developers figure out what went wrong. Most large developers now issue regular patches to fix newly … Read more