Reports find Firefox faces upgrade lag, security debate

The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser has been facing a bit of a crisis, with the organization’s search deal with Google in limbo — and with it, most of the public foundation’s funding. While Mozilla and Google are reported to still be working on a new version of their search deal, new reports show Firefox is facing new challenges:Many Firefox users are failing to keep up with Mozilla’s rapid release schedule for the browser, and Google may be deliberately trying to undermine Firefox by commissioning security reports that tout Chrome at Firefox’s expense.

First, a new report from advertising analytics firm Chitika finds that while the majority of Firefox users are embracing Mozilla’s new rapid release methodology (which sees a new major version of Firefox every couple months), as many as a quarter of Firefox users are three or more major revisions behind, with nearly 23 percent of Firefox’s user base still using Firefox 3.0 or 3.x. The current version — this week —  is Firefox 8.

Chitika-Firefox-versions-Dec2011

“While a majority of Firefox users have the current version of the browser, there is a significant portion—at least a quarter—who are at least three releases behind,” wrote Chitika’s Haze Jayachandran. “Firefox’s plans to allow silent updates may help this problem, though they aren’t scheduled to debut until version 12 is released.”

A “silent upgrade” feature won’t automatically migrate users of very old versions of Firefox (like Firefox 2 and 3) to new versions—the support simply isn’t in those older versions of the browser, and in some cases Mozilla no longer makes a version of Firefox for the platform. For instance, while Firefox still supports Windows XP, it left PowerPC-based Macs in the dust with Firefox 4.

Chitika also underscores the value of Mozilla’s search deal with Google, finding that nearly 80 percent of Firefox users have Google as their default search engine, as measured across impressions last week.

In the meantime, accusations are flying that Google may be trying to stack the deck against Firefox (and other browsers) by commissioning a report on browser security from Accuvant. Accuvant named Google’s Chrome the browser most secure against attacks. Accuvant’s senior research scientist claimed the test were “completely different and more extensive methodology than previous, similar studies,” and considered anti-exploitation technologies and browsers’ security methodology.

However, at least one other security firm is crying foul: NSS Labs has released its own response to Accuvant’s report (PDF), saying it appears Google may have set the testing parameters to Chrome’s advantage, in part because the test methodology completely ignored some Firefox security technologies such as frame poisoning and particular JIT hardening techniques employed by Firefox.

NSS Labs doesn’t question Accuvant’s expertise or that Chrome is working hard to be secure. In fact, NSS Labs lauds Accuvant’s discussion of JIT hardening and sandboxing tchnologies, and says it found Chrome increased its protection against traditional malware nearly fivefold just from November 22 to December 2. But NSS Labs pulls no punches about why it thinks Chrome won in Accuvant’s testing: “Google paid product reseller Accuvant to publish a report comparing browser security. However, given the deficiencies in the methodology it would appear that the main aim of the report was to undermine confidence in Firefox.”

Of course, NSS Labs is no stranger to commissioned security reports itself: A year ago, NSS Labs was commissioned by Microsoft to test IE9’s anti-malware features…and NSS Labs declared IE9 the most secure browser available.

Gaming

New ‘Battlefield V’ patch gives Nvidia’s ray tracing support a chance to shine

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
Computing

Microsoft asks Edge Insiders for help with its new browser development

If you want to be among the first to try Microsoft's new Edge browser that's built on Google's open-source Chromium rendering engine, you can sign up to be an Edge Insider. Microsoft is asking users to provide feedback.
Computing

Microsoft may ditch Edge for a new Chromium-based web browser

Microsoft's Edge browser may have just a few months left to live. New rumors suggest that the software giant is replacing its Windows 10 browser with something based on Google's Chromium rendering engine.
Computing

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

Changing file associations in Windows 10 is quick and easy with these steps

Learning how to change file associations can make editing certain file types much quicker than manually selecting your preferred application every time you open them. Just follow these short steps and you'll be on your way in no time.
Computing

Intel's dedicated GPU is not far off -- here's what we know

Did you hear? Intel is working on a dedicated graphics card. It's called Arctic Sound and though we don't know a lot about it, we know that Intel has some ex-AMD Radeon graphics engineers developing it.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, and it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Computing

These cheap laptops will make you wonder why anyone spends more

Looking for a budget notebook for school, work, or play? The best budget laptops, including our top pick -- the Asus ZenBook UX331UA -- will get the job done without digging too deeply into your pockets.
Mobile

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.
Computing

Stop your PC's vow of silence with these tips on how to fix audio problems

Sound problems got you down? Don't worry, with a few tweaks and tricks we'll get your sound card functioning as it should, and you listening to your favorite tunes and in-game audio in no time.
Product Review

It's not the sharpest tool, but the Surface Go does it all for $400

Microsoft has launched the $400 Surface Go to take on both the iPad and Chromebooks, all without compromising its core focus on productivity. Does it work as both a tablet and a PC?