The Browser War continues: Now it’s all about security


The great Browser War rages on, and the new versions just keep rolling out. Mozilla has just released Firefox 14, a little over 12 months after the initial version 5 in the rapid release program. My calculator tells me that equates to a new version around every 1.4 months. I expect Firefox version 15 will appear some time during this evening’s happy hour. 🙂

Google Chrome is now up to version 20, in just two months shy of 4 years. By my reckoning that’s a new version every 2.3 months or so. It appears the only major browser still following the more traditional path is Internet Explorer. Microsoft is still playing it’s part in the ongoing rivalry though, via press releases and announcements.

It appears all the ‘big three’ are now concentrating on security enhancements to help attract more users to their respective camps… which isn’t a bad thing for us, not a bad thing at all. Here is what the latest versions, and in Microsoft’s case announcements, bring to the table:

Internet Explorer 10:

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10, will ship later this year with Windows 8 and will reportedly, and hopefully, be available for Windows 7 users too.

The new version of IE will be a full 64 bit application in 64 bit Windows, which has the effect of increasing the difficulty of bypassing exploit mitigation techniques, such as ASLR. IE 10 is also set to introduce a new setting called Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM). EPM adds several new sandbox-type technologies and introduces the concept of plug-in-free browsing.


Firefox 14:

In its latest version, Firefox will now default to using HTTPS for search queries submitted via Google. This is a great improvement for privacy, it means that prying eyes, especially over public networks, won’t be able to intercept queries through Google. Though this feature currently supports Google only, Firefox developers are apparently exploring similar features for other search engines.

A new Firefox feature sure to meet with approval is the “Click to Play” plugin preference. With this feature enabled (via about:config), websites containing content such as Flash or Quicktime will be blocked by default, to prevent drive-by exploitation. If you wish to see the video, you simply click on the included box to enable the plugin.

Chrome 20:

Released last month, Chrome 20 attempts to come to grips with malicious extensions being distributed on Facebook and other sites. This latest version of Chrome no longer allows extensions to be loaded from any web page, other than the Chrome Web Store. In conjunction with that move, Google has also begun screening applications submitted to the official Web Store. What!! You mean they haven’t been performing any screening previously! The mind boggles! Better late than never I guess.


The Google Chrome team is currently crowing about the inclusion of a fully-sandboxed version of Adobe Flash for all versions of Windows, due in the upcoming version 21 release.

And so it continues! While we’re at it, let’s have a look at the latest browser market share statistics (as at July 19th) from NetMarketShare:

  • Internet Explorer: 54.02%
  • Firefox: 20.06%
  • Chrome: 19.08%

Many Firefox users have expressed their discontent with Mozilla’s rapid release program but, considering late last year all the pundits were predicting Chrome would overtake Firefox for second place in the early part of 2012, it appears to be doing the job.

Have a great weekend everyone… talk to you again next week.

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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