Category Archives: Google

Chrome 58.0.3029.81

The change log for Chrome 58.0.3029.81 is ten thousand items long, so you might want to think twice before clicking that link. It’s probably safe to say that there are no new features or major changes in the new version, since nothing of the kind is mentioned in the release announcement. This is an important update, though. That’s because it includes fixes for twenty-nine security flaws.

Chrome seems to update itself on most computers within a day or so of a new release, but you can usually trigger an update by opening the browser’s menu (the three-vertical-dots icon at the top right) and navigating to Help > About Google Chrome.

Chrome 57.0.2987.98

The latest version of Chrome includes fixes for thirty-six security vulnerabilities.

There are numerous other changes in Chrome 57.0.2987.98. Google didn’t see fit to highlight any of them in the release announcement, so you’ll have to read the browser-annihilating change log to see if any of the changes are of interest. I’m not planning to do that myself, as it’s likely to take several hours, and unlikely to be particularly rewarding.

Chrome updates itself on its own mysterious schedule, but you can usually trigger an update by going to its ‘About’ page. Because this version includes security updates, you should try to update Chrome as soon as possible.

Update 2017Mar16: Ars Technica points out that Chrome 57 includes power saving features that should extend battery life for Chrome users on laptops.

Chrome 56.0.2924.76

Chrome version 56.0.2924.76 includes fixes for fifty-one security vulnerabilities. But wait, that’s not all. If you want to see what happens when your web browser loads a really big web page, navigate to the change log for Chrome 56.0.2924.76. It’s a behemoth, documenting over ten thousand separate changes.

One change in particular deserves mention: starting with this version, Chrome will show ‘Secure’ at the left end of the address bar if a site is encrypted. When Chrome navigates to a web page that isn’t encrypted, but does include a password prompt, it will show ‘Not Secure’ in the address bar.

Chrome seems to update itself reliably, soon after a new version is released. Still, given the number of security fixes in this release, it’s not a bad idea to check.

Microsoft is losing all of its browser market share to Google

If you used Windows in the 90’s, you probably remember the Browser War between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Netscape’s Navigator. That war culminated in an antitrust case against Microsoft, in which the plaintiff (the USA) claimed that Microsoft’s bundling of IE with Windows was anti-competitive.

Regardless of whether you believe Microsoft acted fairly, Internet Explorer’s market share increased steadily during the period from 1995 to 2001, getting close to 100% at its high water mark. Microsoft never charged anything for its browser, but controlling the window through which most of the world viewed the web clearly provided a huge advantage to the company.

Now, all that ‘hard won’ market share is being given away by Microsoft, mostly to Google’s Chrome. Internet Explorer’s share plummeted from 40% to 20% in 2016, and there’s no bottom in sight.

Why is this happening?

Microsoft has abandoned Internet Explorer, switching its browser development efforts to Edge, which only runs in Windows 10. Only the most recent versions of IE are still supported, and only on Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. And that support is limited to fixing security issues and other bugs. You won’t see any more new features in IE.

Clearly, Microsoft thought everyone would upgrade to Windows 10, especially given the free upgrade offer, and the company’s aggressive upgrade tactics. But that appears to have backfired; Windows 10’s growth has been less than stellar, and even though Edge is arguably a better browser than IE, Windows 10 users are mostly choosing other browsers.

Microsoft may soon own as little as 5% of the total browser market, thanks to Edge’s lackluster uptake. Edge started 2016 with a market share of about 4%, and ended it with about 5%.

I think this qualifies as a major strategic blunder on the part of Microsoft.

Numbers are courtesy of NetMarketShare.

Article on Ars Technica.

Chrome 55.0.2883.75

A new version of Chrome fixes at least thirty-six security issues in the browser. Aside from listing the vulnerabilities addressed, the release announcement says only that Chrome 55.0.2883.75 “contains a number of fixes and improvements”. You’ll have to read the change log to figure out what else is different. Sadly, the full change log is another one of those browser-killing monstrosities, with almost 10,000 changes listed. Don’t click that link if you have an older computer.

SHA-1 deprecation coming soon

SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1) is still used by some web sites to encrypt their traffic. Starting in early 2017, most web browsers will start displaying scary-looking warnings when anyone tries to visit sites using SHA-1.

Like this one in Edge:

After Feb 14, 2017, Microsoft Edge will show this warning when it detects SHA-1 encryption
After Feb 14, 2017, Microsoft Edge will show this warning when it detects SHA-1 encryption

SHA-1 deprecation announcements

Microsoft

(From a post on the Microsoft Edge blog.)

Starting on February 14th, 2017, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 will prevent sites that are protected with a SHA-1 certificate from loading and will display an invalid certificate warning. Though we strongly discourage it, users will have the option to ignore the error and continue to the website.

Mozilla

From a post on the Mozilla security blog.

In early 2017, Firefox will show an overridable “Untrusted Connection” error whenever a SHA-1 certificate is encountered that chains up to a root certificate included in Mozilla’s CA Certificate Program. SHA-1 certificates that chain up to a manually-imported root certificate, as specified by the user, will continue to be supported by default; this will continue allowing certain enterprise root use cases, though we strongly encourage everyone to migrate away from SHA-1 as quickly as possible.

Google

From a post on the Google security blog.

We are planning to remove support for SHA-1 certificates in Chrome 56, which will be released to the stable channel around the end of January 2017. The removal will follow the Chrome release process, moving from Dev to Beta to Stable; there won’t be a date-based change in behaviour.