Earlier today, Mozilla published an article on their company blog, titled Firefox Gives You More Control Over Your Data in Private Browsing.
I must be getting pretty good at detecting these cryptic Firefox version update announcements, because I spotted this one right away. Sure enough, despite there being no mention of a new version, there’s a link at the bottom of the post which reads Release Notes for Firefox for Windows, Mac, Linux. And the link clearly points to a version 43 folder.
So it’s not exactly a new version announcement, but there were enough hints there to figure it out.
Maybe I should talk about the new version of Firefox.
The ‘announcement‘ only talks about changes to the Private Browsing with Tracking Protection feature, which now has a ‘strict’ setting that may provide better privacy while breaking many popular sites. Not recommended unless you’re truly paranoid and don’t mind being frustrated.
The release notes get into more detail. But there’s not a lot that’s likely to excite much interest. About sixteen security issues were fixed as well, so you should go ahead and update Firefox ASAP.
If you’ve been trying to live without Flash, because of its never-ending security vulnerabilities, take heart. YouTube now shows videos using HTML5 instead of Flash by default. YouTube will still use Flash in browsers that don’t support HTML5, but all the major browsers do now support it.
Flash use is still pervasive on the web. But this change by YouTube – arguably the biggest user of Flash up to now – is going to reduce Flash usage enormously.
Note that while YouTube started experimenting with this change some time ago, it’s only recently shown up in Firefox, with version 37.
If YouTube was the only place you were using Flash, you should be able to completely disable Flash in your browser now.
If you want to keep receiving security and bug fixes for Internet Explorer after January 12, 2016, you’ll have to upgrade to the most recent version first. For now, that means IE 11. But if IE 12 is ready before January 12, you’ll be forced to update to that version.
Microsoft is doing this mainly to reduce support costs. But this is also the approach used by Google for its Chrome browser, and Mozilla is moving in that direction for Firefox.
My install of Opera 18 updated itself recently, from version 18.0.1284.49 to version 18.0.1284.63. There was no announcement of the change, and there is no release notes page for the new version. The ‘unified’ release notes page for version 18 was last updated on November 18. Is Opera moving toward stealth releases like Firefox? If so, why? While there may be some value in software that silently updates itself, IT staff still need to make intelligent decisions about updating corporate desktops, and they can’t do that without knowing what has changed between versions. The only sensible alternative is to switch to a different browser. Another nail in the coffin for Opera, which is sad.
Lifecycle is the term used by Microsoft when presenting the various dates related to the sales and support of their products. The Windows Lifecycle fact sheet provides all the relevant dates for all versions of Windows.
The lifecycle for Windows 7 was recently updated by Microsoft, making October 30, 2014 the last date on which new PCs can be sold with Windows 7. Shortly afterward, that date was removed, and it now appears as ‘To be determined.’ Someone at Microsoft apparently saw the latest sales figures for Windows, and realized that given Windows 7’s growth, stopping sales of that O/S in 2014 would significantly reduce overall revenue. Presumably a new cutoff date for OEM sales of Windows 7 is being debated internally, but I have no doubt that the October 30, 2014 date will eventually be pushed back.
Ars Technica has more about this.
Microsoft has announced pricing and package information for Windows 8.1. The update was previously confirmed as being free for anyone already running Windows 8, but when purchased new, 8.1 will cost the same as Windows 8: $119.99 for the basic package, and $199.99 for the Pro version.
Unfortunately, while 8.1 will be available as a full package (unlike Windows 8, which was only sold as an upgrade), it will not be available in a form that will allow upgrades from Windows 7. So if you are considering upgrading from Windows 7 to 8.1, it will be a two step process: 7 to 8, then 8 to 8.1.
Ars Technica has more.