For the second time in 14 months, Google's Chrome browser is close to overtaking Mozilla's Firefox as the second most used desktop browser in the world. The last time, in July 2012, Chrome came within 0.1% of Firefox's marketshare, but was unable to keep its gains. In fact, Net Applications, the organization whose data is most used for these stats, erroneously called Chrome winner Al Gore-style.
This time around, however, it is a battle over which browser is losing less market and not about who is gaining more. In July, Firefox lost a whopping 11% of its market and Chrome had a minor gain to 17.8%, up 2 points, which is its highest rank since October. Between October and July, Chrome had seen a rollercoaster of ups and downs, never staying as steady as Firefox.
Almost all of Chrome and Firefox's losses have been in favor of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose versions 9 and 10, both available on Windows 7, have seen a resurgence of sorts. IE has taken an almost 3 point climb, landing at 56.6 percent of all desktop browsing. This growth has been a fairly consistent growth since its low at the end of 2011, bottoming out at 51.9.
If the recent trends were to continue, Chrome would overtake Firefox this month for the second spot. If you look at the past 12 months, however, the handoff will have to wait until April 2014.
It is important to note how these stats are calculated. Net Applications calculates their usage based on unique visitors on standard desktop computers. This means Windows, MacOS and standard builds of Linux are counted; Windows Phone, iOS and custom Linux builds, such as Android, webOS and Firefox OS are not counted. In combining mobile browsing into the mix, Google takes a 2 point lead on Firefox.
StatCounter, however, calculates based on page views and, based on that information, Chrome is the top browser, even ahead of Internet Explorer. This indicates that the majority of users spend significantly less time on the web than those who use Chrome browsers on any platform. It is important to know, as targeting software to a browser requires a focus on who your userbase is.
In addition to Microsoft's plans to
retire Microsoft Points this week, the company has also announced that it will retire the Games for Windows Live marketplace on the same day, August 22. Microsoft has been working hard to unite their brands as well as focusing on their core businesses, and non-Windows 8 gaming under a non-Xbox brand is, apparently, not one of them.
Of course, this is going to open up many concerns about currently owned games. The good news is, I have that information for you. If you have purchased a game through the marketplace, you will still be able to download and play those games going forward. You will no longer be able to purchase new games from the marketplace, however.
Obviously, many of the games that are currently available through the marketplace are also available through other distribution channels, such as Steam or Amazon. Those games will, of course, continue to be available through those stores. Any games that are Microsoft exclusives will not be available through other distribution channels. If you are interested in any of those titles, you will need to purchase them this week. If any of the games you have purchased that you continue to play after the shutdown have DLC available, it will be the responsibility of the publishers to make that content available, either in-game or through other means.
This is probably a sign of the consolidation of all of the entertainment brands under the Xbox moniker, plus the emphasis of Xbox on Windows 8. The experience through Windows 8 and Xbox is certainly a more integrated and seamless experience, even incorporating those highly sought after casual gamers. With titles ranging from
AlphaJax (similar to Words with Friends) to Halo, the range available is much higher than that of Games for windows Live. Hopefully for Microsoft this move will not be a mistake, only strengthening Steam.
Michael Dell's plans to take the company that holds his name private has not gone his way. First, after
announcing his plans, customers grew concerned that a wrong move could end the company. Enterprises that have relied on Dell's low-end hardware to run mission critical applications were forced to consider other alternatives. In addition, certain investors, most vocally Carl Icahn, objected to the plan, suggesting it was not in the stockholders' best interests.
Mr. Icahn made a lot of noise about his objections, getting enough support to concern Michael Dell and the board of directors. Then, in counter, Dell
increased his offer, but required a change to the voting rules. As they stand, the rules state that unvoted shares would be counted as a "no" vote.
With the expectation that as many as 25% of all shareholders would not respond, that would allow a vocal minority of shareholders to block the plan. The change requirement would scrap unvoted shares, only counting those that are legitimately returned. Icahn filed a suit against the board, trying to prevent them from allowing the voting rules to change. Obviously he was counting on this loophole to get his way.
Unfortunately for Icahn, a judge this week denied his request to expedite the suit. This means that the hearing will take place after the vote and there is nothing legally that he can do about it. His only option at this point, as the judge points out, is to outbid Dell and Silver Lake Partners.
It has been two months since The Pirate Bay
accused Prenda Law of planting torrents on its site in order to sue. As The Pirate Bay had suggested, Comcast has confirmed that site user Sharkmp4 is actually John Steele, founder and head of the copyright roll Prenda Law.
As it turns out, the company was running a honeypot scheme in which they would upload and seed torrents for content that they owned and then sued the users who downloaded it. Leaders at TPB searched through backups of data to reveal IP addresses used by Sharkmp4 and encouraged other groups to cross-reference the address information to their own databases.
At the time, the IPs were connected to users on several other sites, some of which wrote positively about anti-piracy policies. This was enough information for a judge to allow the discovery process in the AF Holdings v Patel legal battle, Comcast was subpoenaed for data regarding the IP address in question. Comcast was able to link the address to Steele Hansmeier PLLC, which is obviously attached to Prenda through none other than John Steele, whose name appears in the account holder's name.
This is not the only subpoena out there in the case, but it is an important one. Being able to prove that Prenda setup the scheme ruins their credibility and also proves that they are not actually interested in protecting their intellectual property, but instead is interested in a business model of legal battles against torrent users. Probably not a successful long-term strategy, especially if the whole thing is a setup.
Cyber analyst team Trend Micro has warned us that by 2014, the count of malicious software created for Android will surpass the 1 million mark. To recap on why this is such a big deal and a problem, let's reference back to articles in the past two years about how Android is one of the most unsecure platforms on the market.
The report from Trend Micro also indicated that in 2012, "the Android platform (was) five times ahead of Windows on the number of created malicious software for it." That's some serious Nigerian scamming going on in the Android platform. Trend Micro also said that in the last three years, Android has matched the amount of malware for Windows that has been created for the past
14 years. That alone should be enough reason for anyone to switch operating systems, and fast.
It should be no shock that this prediction is so high, though. As it stands, Android currently runs about 80 percent of the entire smartphone ecosystem around the globe, up 70 percent from last year. Android also has one of the most lax processes for publishing an app, with very little safeguards. Combine all of that with the fact that only about 20 percent of Android users have some sort of security software on their device and you have a disaster waiting to happen. And it really does come down to the user not paying attention to what he or she is downloading. It is reported that almost half of the malware discovered in the second quarter of this year alone has to do with a user downloading some sort of app that sends expensive texts or calls, letting the creators of the app to rake in all the money. To further that, as we've covered in the show multiple times, a quarter of the malware involves stealing user data, either remotely or right upon download of the app from the market. Plus, there's also the new trend of hackers coming up with clever ways for apps to sneak into social media and automatically post viral news articles that lead to malicious sites, in hopes that your friends will click on them.
From the report, Trend Micro's VP of technology solutions, JD Sherry, said,
Due to the fractured nature of the Android network, it is very difficult for patches to reach all users in an effective time frame. In some cases, users will never get patches as vendors leave their customers at risk of attack. Until we have the same urgency to protect mobile devices as we have for protecting PCs, this very real threat will continue to grow rapidly. At the rate this malware is accelerating - almost exponentially - we appear to be reaching a critical mass. To fight this, Android users need to take great care when using their devices and take the simple, but effective, step of adding security software to all mobile devices.
I guess fragmentation was an
issue after all. Does this information, along with all of the other Android vulnerability stories, detract you from purchasing an Android device? Are you going to switch from Android to a more secure operating system? Why or why not? We want to know in the comments below.