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The Future of Browser Choice

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the why-don't-you-support-lynx dept.

Java 188

New submitter plawson writes "CNET offers an in-depth discussion of the browser's future, making the case that 'new mobile devices threaten to stifle the competitive vigor of the market for Web browsers on PCs.' Given the vertical integration of many mobile systems, the article predicts that 'the only opportunity you'll get to truly change browsers is when your two-year smartphone contract expires.' The trade-offs are security and performance. Web pages that rely on JavaScript and JIT will be big losers. How important is browser choice on a smartphone or tablet compared with a PC?"

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Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0, Troll)

Mr. Kalz (2646185) | about 2 years ago | (#40091401)

This your-choice-of-your-browser problem isn't limited only to smart phones. It seems like Google is going full steam ahead on developing their ENTIRE OS [wikipedia.org] around having a single browser that you cannot choose - Chrome.

While mobile devices like iPhone certainly have larger market penetration than Chrome OS, the restrictive way Google has chosen to take is clear.

Unlike Chromium OS, which can be compiled from the downloaded source code, Chrome OS only ships on specific hardware from Google's manufacturing partners. The user interface takes a minimalist approach, resembling that of the Google Chrome web browser. Since Google Chrome OS is aimed at users who spend most of their computer time on the Web, the only application on the device is a browser incorporating a media player and a file manager.

I think this is a much larger problem towards open systems. Not only is Google bundling their own browser (what Microsoft was accused of), it is the only browser you are allowed to use.

On top of that, other developers aren't allowed on the system - you cannot run non-google native programs at all. And how do you get work done? You're supposed to use Google's cloud-hosted "applications", that again put your data behind online services and gives Google freedom to end support any time they want (and of course, mine all your data and usage).

How do you play games? Oh, buy them via Google Play Store (or use data mining advertising supported versions) made with Google-owned PPAPI programming technique of course!

Internet connection goes down or is slow? Well, too bad. I mean, Diablo 3 works perfectly too!

Google is a far more serious threat to open computer systems than any other company, including Apple, Microsoft and IBM.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (4, Insightful)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 2 years ago | (#40091505)

>Google is a far more serious threat to open computer systems than any other company, including Apple, Microsoft and IBM.

Not to say that they wouldn't do it if they could, I doubt that, just because Chromebooks suck. They sold very few and they were a huge flop.

"In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry

No wonder Firefox is more worried about Windows RT. They think that the Microsoft tablets are going to sell in good numbers.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091759)

Oracle just got their faces planted by Judge Alsup and the jury. NO PATENT INFRINGEMENT. Why don't you post that Slashdot?

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40092075)

Funny how the business world disagrees with you.

I see a LOT of companies drooling all over the chromebook for use in business. Copuled with Google Business services you can eliminate thousands of dollars of IT costs per year per user.

A couple of our clients here are completely ditching the MSFT train and ringing deep in the Google Cool-aid. For their sales people, Google's flavor is working perfectly for them and Microsoft cant even hope to compete right now.

Granted, you cant do this for the Engineers and other power users, but the entire sales force and managers? you bet they can be moved to chromebooks.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092213)

Funny how the business world disagrees with you.

Even more funny is how sales figures disagree with you.

Run your yap all you like, sales of chromebooks are abysmal, so all your posturing is exactly squat.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | about 2 years ago | (#40092167)

Well I think the parent is right concerning mobile devices. It seems like newer Android phones with ICS are less open than old 2.2.2 that's why I don't care if ever get an OS upgrade on my LG Thrill from AT&T. It would just get locked down even more.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092613)

Google is SKYNET. I am a Droid Borg. Resistance is futile

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091513)

So you would expect a chrome book to run... IE? Firefox? Would it still be called a chrome book in that case?

The consumer _DOES_ have a choice here. By buying a chrome book they are choosing... duh... chrome. Not only that but Chrome books actually has a trivial way for you to "hack" the device itself (you open the battery and flip a switch) which would allow you to install whatever you want on it. Can you even imagine Apple or Microsoft providing consumers with that same option for any device they sell? No.

The problem that existed in windows was that there was no real alternative to Windows in consumer market at the time of Microsoft anti-trust hearings.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Jorl17 (1716772) | about 2 years ago | (#40091595)

Mod parent up!

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (2)

Mr. Kalz (2646185) | about 2 years ago | (#40091599)

The consumer _DOES_ have a choice here. By buying a chrome book they are choosing... duh... chrome.

Would you say that same thing about Windows and IE? It would be right for Microsoft to disable any other browser than IE because after all, the consumer has a choice, and can get a Mac OS X (Safari), Linux (Firefox) or Chromebook (Chrome) based on their favorite browser. Heh.

The problem that existed in windows was that there was no real alternative to Windows in consumer market at the time of Microsoft anti-trust hearings.

Really? This was the time there was several Linux distros sold off the shelfs in stores! And yes, you could get computers without Windows.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091821)

Slashdotters need to not think about the market from a tech standpoint all of the time. In the "consumer" market, people buy a PC/laptop/netbook/tablet/phone to communicate with other people, not to try out the latest and greatest browser/scripting language/content management system/etc...

Back 10 or even 5 years ago, there was basically no choice in the consumer market. The average guy shopping for a PC in WalMart didn't have a clue about linux and all they new about Apples was that they were very expensive. These days, as PCs are being replaced by tablets and phone for humans basic communications needs, there are many alternatives: iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberries, and so on.

How many people do you think purchased a pre-smartphone based on the operating system that it was running?

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091847)

Couple of typos: "from a techie standpoint", not "a tech standpoint" and "all they knew about Apples", not "all they new"...

Darn autocorrect... LOL!

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#40091859)

The consumer _DOES_ have a choice here. By buying a chrome book they are choosing... duh... chrome.

Would you say that same thing about Windows and IE? It would be right for Microsoft to disable any other browser than IE because after all, the consumer has a choice, and can get a Mac OS X (Safari), Linux (Firefox) or Chromebook (Chrome) based on their favorite browser. Heh.

The problem that existed in windows was that there was no real alternative to Windows in consumer market at the time of Microsoft anti-trust hearings.

Really? This was the time there was several Linux distros sold off the shelfs in stores! And yes, you could get computers without Windows.

I think it's hard to make the argument that it's the same thing when you can buy an entire Google Chromebook [newegg.com] for about the same price as Windows 7 [newegg.com] .

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (4, Insightful)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 2 years ago | (#40091691)

>Not only that but Chrome books actually has a trivial way for you to "hack" the device itself (you open the battery and flip a switch) which would allow you to install whatever you want on it.

Flipping that switch does not allow you to install native programs on you Chrome OS, it just allows you to load a different OS.

From their docs:

Show a scary warning that its software cannot be trusted, since a command line shell is enabled (press Ctrl-D or wait 30 seconds to dismiss).
Erase all personal data on the "stateful partition" (i.e., user accounts and settings - no worries, though, since all data is in the cloud!).
Make you wait between 5 and 10 minutes while it erases the data.

>Can you even imagine Apple or Microsoft providing consumers with that same option for any device they sell? No.

Last I heard you could dual boot any PCs or Macbooks to Linux or Windows without having to erase your OS X/Windows data.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092809)

Erase all personal data... ...no worries, though, since all data is in the cloud!

I have never hated a statement more than that.

Never in my life.

The only thing that comes as close to total unspeakable abomination as undeletable unforgetable permanently retained corporate data is proprietary closed source software. I really have a hard time choosing which is worse.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 years ago | (#40091521)

Only if Chrome OS actually catches some momentum, which it doesn't seem to have happening anytime soon.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (4, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#40091539)

You most certainly do have a choice... simply don't use the OS. Buy a PC with another OS.

I don't think you understand what Chrome OS is supposed to be... a MINIMAL OS where the browser is the ONLY application, and system updates consist of downloading a full image that is mounted read-only and checksummed to ensure it is not tampered with by malware. Traditional OSs are made to run third party applications. Even "walled garden" smartphone OSs are designed to run at least a subset of third party apps. Chrome OS is not.

It's not designed for people who aren't willing to use the web for everything.

And for the record, there is a documented method to disable the safety checks on the partition checksums and install other OSs, as well as gain root terminal access under Chrome OS to mess around with whatever you want there, too. Google has made it clear they support user choice. I installed Ubuntu on my Cr-48 Chromebook and I have Chrome and Firefox on it, and I can dual boot between that and Chrome OS, if it makes you feel better.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091545)

Except you don't pay for Chromium ... and it doesn't restrict you from adding outside source material. Just stop failing hard and comparing to incidents that have absolutely nothing to do with the situation, there are plenty of other legitimate reasons to complain about Google and its projects.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091573)

What about IEOS? Some people call it Windows...

Then there's most Linux distros coming with Firefox which most users never bother to change.

But seriously, Android has the stock browser, Chrome, Dolphin, Skyfire, Opera, and a slew of other less popular results. I probably have more browser choice on my phone than I do on my desktop.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1, Troll)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40091585)

Jesus Christ, can the pro-Microsoft shilling get any more blatant?

Here is yet another brand-new poster with a userid in the two millions, getting first post, with only one comment to his record, and he chooses to slam ... holy fucking shit, ChromeOS?

Really? Of all the things Google is doing that you could choose to knock them for, fucking ChromeOS is destroying freedom and ending the world?

Seriously, holy sweet Jesus, this is just pathetic.

And FWIW, I have a Chromebook and I actually really dig it. No, it's not really great for everything, but as skeptical as I was at first, I ended up using it a lot more than I expected to.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091881)

So he's not "worthy" enough to comment first and say what he wants on an open system because he's noob?

Nice, asshole.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0, Offtopic)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40091939)

Don't be dense. A noob who gets first post with his first comment ever? For the express purpose of slamming Google over some random bullshit that nobody cares about (as much as I like my Chromebook, it's true, nobody cares and it's probably not going anywhere)? This is becoming a pattern on Slashdot. I don't know if it's with the explicit complicity of the Slashdot editors or what, but it's blatantly obvious what's going on.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092141)

Also, nobody else noticed that he managed to type out ~15 sentences [including formatting, quotes, and links] in *less than a minute*? That's pretty good reaction time.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091907)

I thought you guys were conspiracy nuts with this Microsoft shill crap, but I've seen multiple posts today that prove it...or maybe I'm as insane as all of you. :-|

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091981)

I have to say, I don't really have a good answer for it, but Slashdot needs to find one because the shills are literally destroying the comments section. They're subtle enough that people who aren't bigtime readers have no reason to suspect them, and respond like they're real posts. Since they're always first, this completely derails the comments on almost every single fucking story. And it's such a hot button issue, combined with usually a bunch of people complaining about the shills, that the second post winds up so far down the page that no one ever gets there. I mean, the comments section has been on a downward spiral for years, but it's now become completely worthless, and the moderation system just isn't doing shit for this problem.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#40092453)

Is there a reason slashdot is sticking with the "first comment made is the one at the top" still? They can't figure out how to sort threads by top rated contents?

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091613)

Fallacy and astroturfing. Glorious.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40091849)

Same should go for WebOS or Tizen, there the browser is the interface. Or Android for languages, where it is meant to run java apps. But in both cases you can still run core OS apps, and/or apps not from the included market. So don't rule that out from Chrome OS itself.

Anyway, ruling out the browser choice in that context have no meaning. It is a browser based OS, not an OS where the browser is just another app. The choice would be given if you could install in those devices a full OS, or i.e. Mozilla's B2G [mozilla.org]

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091997)

Google is a far more serious threat to open computer systems than any other company, including Apple, Microsoft and IBM.

I didn't see you say anything that doesn't also apply to iOS (what's iOS market share compared to ChromeOS?). Such an obvious troll you're not even trying.

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40092139)

I'd been off of Slashdot for a while, first thing I see when I come back is bonch taking a big shit on the first post again -_-

Re:Chrome OS is also a huge problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092241)

Slashdot discussions aren't even interesting to read anymore with these shills everywhere. Notice how in every article, some newly registered shill account is posting an article within the same minute of the article being posted. God forbid someone clean this site up.

And most Slashdot users are too stupid to notice a shill when they see one, so they get modded up and replied to as if there's a fucking valid discussion to be had.

This site is dead. Eventually it'll degrade to a bunch of people being paid to have "discussions."

Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40091421)

My iPhone lets me choose from Safari and dozens of different skins of Safari

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (4, Funny)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 2 years ago | (#40091531)

My iPhone lets me choose from Safari and dozens of different skins of Safari

Not just that but I heard Apple is going to open up iOS to Android magazine apps. For the first time, iOS users will be allowed to read about alternative platforms!

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (-1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40092703)

>>>open up iOS to Android magazine apps.

What did you need an app for? You can get these magazine through Safari! Almost all of them are free on the web. The only ones I still pay-to-read are Asimovs and Fantasy & Science magazines, since their content is locked up (though they giveaway a free story each month).

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091623)

So your choices are Safari, Safai, or... Safari? Freedom of choice is a good thing.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091799)

You can choose opera. It doesn't use Safari rendering.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (4, Informative)

CritterNYC (190163) | about 2 years ago | (#40091887)

Only Opera Mini, which is a kind of pseudo-browser that offloads rendering to a server-farm in the cloud. It's designed for dumb phones (not smartphones) but was the only way to get a 'kinda of' browser around Apple's 'only Safari can interpret Javascript on the phone' restrictions.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092543)

Opera Turbo does this as well for desktops and they started it before there was such a thing as an iPhone. If you're ever stuck on a slow machine with a slow connection, it's a godsend.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (0)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#40091911)

And since the prohibition on interpreters went away almost two years ago, the only thing preventing Firefox from porting to iOS is... well, Firefox. That and their JavaScript performance would probably be diminished because they probably won't be able to JIT the JavaScript into unsigned native code.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (1)

Reapman (740286) | about 2 years ago | (#40092239)

Where'd you read that? Your comment is the first I've seen about this - and trust me I'm VERY interested in this and would love for it to be true. Considering the amount of time and effort Moz puts into their Android port, and how Dolphin even supports the Playbook, I somewhat doubt what you say but please prove me wrong.

Note I last looked for this info a week ago and couldn't find anything.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#40092295)

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4891642/interpreter-for-the-iphone [stackoverflow.com]

Never mind. Now that I read that more carefully, it doesn't apply here.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092387)

DOH! Although interesting link none the less, thanks!

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (3, Informative)

BZ (40346) | about 2 years ago | (#40092711)

The blanket prohibition went away, but was replaced with a restriction that the interpreter not interpret anything it gets over the network.

Which means that a browser's JS engine is still not ok under the new policy, unless it limits itself to only running JS that came bundled with the browser.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (1)

Krazy Kanuck (1612777) | about 2 years ago | (#40091933)

I could be crazy but I am fairly sure Perfect Browser http://www.perfectbrowser.com/ [perfectbrowser.com] isn't a Safari skin.

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091935)

Just you the Google App, then when it's running type in the web address in the search bar. You pretty much have Chrome OS in an app

Re:Oh, that's bullshit. There's plenty of choices (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40092459)

>>>Safari and dozens of different skins of Safari

There was a time when Apple was a good company. After Commodore Amiga went to pasture I bought a Quadra Mac (68040) and liked it. A nice easy-to-use system (though it lacked preemptive multitasking). But then it all went downhill.

Though I now have a PowerPC mac I would never buy another one, or any other apple product, because of their love to lockdown things. Its non-apple products from now on. I want freedom.

history repeating (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#40091441)

Will no-one look to history to see what happens if you are tied into a single browser? Would we all be happy to have the equivalent of IE6 on our smartphones?

I know Microsoft is not keen on WebGL or Websockets, so imagine a world where they simply did not exist, or failed to gain traction because there was no incentive for the new monopoly to support it.

The only answer is consumer choice, and we all know 2 years is a lifetime in 'internet time'. Smartphone time is just as fast as that used to be.

Re:history repeating (-1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#40091589)

This is a security issue. Non-techies don't care about "browser choice". They do care about their phone not getting hacked. Just because IE6 was terrible doesn't automatically mean that a restricted browser platform is bad...it just means IE6 was bad and insecure. If you want fast JIT, WebGL, etc. then expect security restrictions.

Vendors are trying to avoid the mistakes of the past (IE6) by providing secure, restricted platforms for running web code. If they didn't and became infested with exploits, techies would be shitting all over them for THAT.

Re:history repeating (4, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40091687)

Non-techies don't care about "browser choice".

Do you have citable evidence for this claim? Last I checked, IE was steadily losing market share despite being the default browser on 90+ percent of computers sold so obviously people do care about alternative as I highly doubt 50 percent of the market (people not using IE) can all be described as techies.

They do care about their phone not getting hacked.

Strawman. Also, many iPhone jailbreaks have been done through browser exploits and since there isn't any real alternative on iOS, the situation of only having Safari and Safari skinned browsers is actually worse for security.

Re:history repeating (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#40092015)

Yeah, IE6 sucked because Microsoft intentionally made it that way...that it 'worked best' surfing to sites hosted and developed using Microsoft tools, and it was easy to just code something up in ActiveX and hook that up to your web page to enable you to do anything you wanted to do, only on a Windows box.

Re:history repeating (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40092257)

This is a security issue.

Bullshit. Opera and Mozilla and Google have historically made far more secure browsers than Microsoft has. Most feel that "Microsoft security" is an oxymoron.

Non-techies don't care about "browser choice".

IE is the dominant browser because it comes pre-installed, while you have to install any other browser. It's a matter of "well, it works I guess, why change it?"

Just because IE6 was terrible doesn't automatically mean that a restricted browser platform is bad

What's bad is a monoculture. When you have only 3 phone OSes and 3 phone browsers, the bad guys have only 3 targets. That's one reason Linux and Mac don't get hit by malware, because there are so many Windows machines there's no incentive for anybody to break in (well, also because both those OSes are inherently more secure, but that's beside my point).

Vendors are trying to avoid the mistakes of the past (IE6) by providing secure, restricted platforms for running web code. If they didn't and became infested with exploits, techies would be shitting all over them for THAT

<sarcasm>
Yeah, because slashdot users have such huge political clout...
</sarcasm>

Re:history repeating (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091979)

Microsoft is fine with Websockets. It's just that the draft was rapidly changing, and had incompatible versions. It's in a shipped product now IIRC.

Re:history repeating (1)

thoth (7907) | about 2 years ago | (#40092119)

I think the lesson of the "free-market" here is the regular people don't care what browser they use. The consumer choice made is what platform to buy/use, at the smartphone/tablet level, not at the tech details like which rendering engine is under the hood or whether or not they can swap between 5 different browsers on their device. They don't care about that stuff.

Re:history repeating (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40092573)

I know Microsoft is not keen on WebGL or Websockets, so imagine a world where they simply did not exist

I am, and it's glorious. What's wrong with OpenGL and TCP sockets?

Re:history repeating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092685)

Will no-one look to history to see what happens if you are tied into a single browser? Would we all be happy to have the equivalent of IE6 on our smartphones?

Except that there are at least two major phone platforms, plus several minor ones, whereas in the bad old days of ten years ago, there was only one major desktop platform and a couple of minor ones.

I know Microsoft is not keen on WebGL or Websockets, so imagine a world where they simply did not exist, or failed to gain traction because there was no incentive for the new monopoly to support it.

The only answer is consumer choice, and we all know 2 years is a lifetime in 'internet time'. Smartphone time is just as fast as that used to be.

Thus far, both of the major smartphone platform vendors have been aggressive in enhancing their browsers.

Lack of choice in browsers on phones is a minor problem. A major problem would arise if there were no choice in phone platforms. I shudder to think what would happen if either Apple or Google gained a significant majority of the smartphone market. Fortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon. As long as Apple has to worry about Google offering a better browser, or vice versa, there is enough competition in the market to ensure that the web does not stagnate.

Choose one (-1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#40091485)

Choose one: a secure platform with a fast built-in browser that executes JIT and accesses hardware drivers but with third-party restrictions, or an insecure platform with lots of browser choice but increased opportunity for malicious exploits.

Re:Choose one (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40091561)

Or a secure platform with lots of choice that requires a bit of savvy to use. It's amazing what people will put up with to avoid using their brains.

Re:Choose one (-1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#40091723)

This condescending attitude toward non-techies is off-putting and needs to die. You don't have some unique brain power that others lack. You just choose to spend your free time on computers. Other people choose to spend their time on other things that you lack knowledge in.

Re:Choose one (1, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40092145)

"You don't have some unique brain power that others lack."

Yes we do, I have worked in the Corporate world long enough to see it clearly.

We have that unique desire to learn and embrace change. The rest of the corporate world, Change is usually met with angry mobs holding pitchforks and torches.

Re:Choose one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092447)

We have that unique desire to learn and embrace change.

Slashdot posters actually believe this.

Re:Choose one (0)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40092199)

I choose to spend my time that way because it pays off. If you spend a little time up front learning, and it saves you more time than you spent, that's a wise investment. If you choose not to do that, maybe you deserve to be condescended to.

Re:Choose one (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 2 years ago | (#40092901)

A little time? For someone to whom tech comes easily maybe. Would you be happy being condescended to by someone who finds something easy that you don't?

Re:Choose one (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40092637)

Joey: So, what happens when you're wrong?
        Nick: Well, Joey, I'm never wrong.
        Joey: But you can't always be right.
        Nick: Well, if it's your job to be right, then you're never wrong.
        Joey: But what if you are wrong?
        Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, "Vanilla's the best flavor ice cream", you'd say â¦?
        Joey: "No, chocolate is."
        Nick: Exactly. But you can't win that argument. So, I'll ask you: So you think chocolate is the end-all and be-all of ice cream, do you?
        Joey: It's the best ice cream; I wouldn't order any other.
        Nick: Oh. So it's all chocolate for you, is it?
        Joey: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
        Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom and choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that, Joey Naylor, that is the definition of liberty.
        Joey: But that's not what we're talking about.
        Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about.
        Joey: But ⦠you didn't prove that vanilla's the best.
        Nick: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right.
        Joey: But you still didn't convince me.
        Nick: Because I'm not after you. I'm after them.

Re:Choose one (2, Insightful)

thoth (7907) | about 2 years ago | (#40092085)

And I'm sure there are car geeks simply appalled with the car you own, food geeks who would vomit in horror at what you eat, beer/wine geeks who would rather die of thirst than drink whatever it is you like, music geeks who would pierce their eardrums rather than listen to your music collection, etc.

Basically, not everybody in this world actually cares about the same stuff you do, at the same level of intensity.

Re:Choose one (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40092411)

If spending extra time learning how to drive enabled me to drive a special vehicle that worked a lot better than regular vehicles, you might have a point. But it doesn't.

For instance, if driving a manual transmission meant that I'd get twice the gas milage and break down only 1/10th as often, then you'd have to be stupid not to drive a manual transmission. As it actually happens, manual tramsissions only provide a marginal benefit, so whatever you prefer works.

Basically, not everybody in this world actually cares about the same stuff you do, at the same level of intensity.

It's not about what I care about, it's about what you care about and the best way to accomplish that. If you don't care about computer security or speed, by all means use whatever you like best. If you actually want security or speed, then there is a right answer.

And most people do want computer security and speed. I'm always listening to people complain about viruses, or how bogged down their computer is with crapware. If you care about those things, there's an easy solution. Think about what you're doing, and don't do it unless you understand the implications. That holds for every field, computers, cars, brewry or anything else.

Re:Choose one (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40092709)

Actually, it requires far less savvy than it used to.

For instance, this was the install process I went through earlier this week to install Linux Mint:
1. Download CD image from the Mint website.
2. Burn the CD image.
3. Reboot the machine to boot from the CD. This was the hardest step for the non-techie, because in my case I had to teach the BIOS to try booting from the CD.
4. Wait for the liveCD to start up.
5. Click the big icon on the desktop that said "Install to hard disk".
6. Answer some questions:
  A. What language I wanted to use (default was US English)
  B. Whether I wanted to do anything weird with disk partitions (I did, but if I didn't have 3 other setups on the same box I could have just accepted the defaults)
  C. My name, username, and an initial password
7. Wait 15-20 minutes. The installer showed some slides about what features Mint has that are clearly end-user friendly.
8. When instructed, remove the CD from the tray and reboot the machine.
9. Wait for it to start up, log in and use it. It popped up with some nice instructions on how to use it for those not familiar with Firefox, LibreOffice, etc.

It's hard to make it much simpler than that. And I've put non-techies in front of a Linux machine and they were able to figure it out without much difficulty.

Re:Choose one (2)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#40092381)

Or a platform with only one browser engine with a security vulnerability (like the one that allowed to rootkit your phone after opening a web page) and you need to wait weeks for a fix, and not being able to use other browser engine in that time. Or other platform thatallows you to install another "real" browser meanwhile the embeeded one is fixed. Choice is always good, nobody is forcing the user to use another one, but the option must exist

Browser choise on android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091489)

There are options for example I run firefox on my phone (just so I can use ad block plus) and there are many more available in the android store. The only problem is the same one that desktops have of people not changing away from the pre-bundled browser.

Re:Browser choise on android (2)

DickBreath (207180) | about 2 years ago | (#40092115)

Yes. You can install other browsers on Android without even rooting. So maybe this browser lock in is only a phenomena on closed platforms.

- - - -
All that is necessary for Apple to triumph is for Google men to do nothing.

Jailbreak (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40091495)

Jailbreak and install whatever browser you want. Or better yet, stop shipping restricted computers that are dressed up to look like phones, and start shipping computers that respect user freedom and which happen to come in phone-form-factor with a cell phone module. Why is this so hard?

Re:Jailbreak (2)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 2 years ago | (#40091559)

Locking down the system removes a lot of incentive for making the alternative app in the first place.

Where can you get Firefox for your jailbroken iPad? (I do know there was a preliminary attempt at a port for Cydia, but it has since been abandoned due to lack of interest).

Which browser is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091537)

If you ever get the chance too...

Frolic in Placenta

mindscrambler

hurts so good!

There is still competition (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40091549)

I don't see why there are concerns about browsers lagging and lack of competition - it's just that now instead of browsers competing on the desktop, browsers will be competing across multiple devices.

Yes it means that you personally will have to use the brand of browser that comes with your device, but that does NOT mean you are stuck with the same browser for the life of your contract as long as you chose a device that gets updated through the lifetime of your contract.

It also does not mean Javascript performance will lag, since competing device makers will always want to have the fastest possible browsers... both Android and iOS are making good strides in improving javascript performance in the browsers they offer.

Also it's not like you cannot install other browsers. Of course on Android you can do so if you like, and supposedly soon Chrome may be released for iOS.

Re:There is still competition (1)

mystikkman (1487801) | about 2 years ago | (#40091839)

>..supposedly soon Chrome may be released for iOS.

Reference?

Snark-free response (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40092003)

I could just say, LMGTFY, but how about a direct link [geek.com] instead.

Just a rumor for now but since you can't replace the default system browser I could see Apple allowing it. Over time they are generally more permissive.

I'm slowly but surely leaving web development (4, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | about 2 years ago | (#40091563)

Just 2 weeks ago I asked with you guys what degree I should get for a late-ish career boost (BTW: Once again thanks for all the feedback, it's been a great help!).

It is because of this entire development that I actually am starting to move away from web stuff. It may seem that the web has won, and with Ajax and regular HTML 5 that may be the case, but it also is true that a few years ago we had a well-ordered world with 3 platforms at most and now with the mobile revolution we pratically are back in the 80ies with a bazillion proprietary platforms none of which are really compatible to one another. ... Even the usage paradigms aren't as clear as they were in 2005 with only Win, Mac and *nix desktops to choose from.

As for the dangers of stagnation and lock-in - even with HTML5/CSS3 and Ajax - due to extreme verticalisation of markets, I'd say the GP and the related article are spot on. That's why I'm moving away from rich-client and web stuff, at least for the programming that's supposed to earn me stable money in the long term. The 2k years were a great time with lots of fun and opportunities in the web, but those are dimishing as we speak. At least for me it's time to move on.

My 2 cents.

Re:I'm slowly but surely leaving web development (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#40091753)

It may seem that the web has won, and with Ajax and regular HTML 5 that may be the case, but it also is true that a few years ago we had a well-ordered world with 3 platforms at most and now with the mobile revolution we pratically are back in the 80ies with a bazillion proprietary platforms none of which are really compatible to one another.

You could develop a standard such that it's compatible over all browsers and the server only sends the data and the browser decides how to display it.

Oh, hang on. We had one of those, it was called HTML. Then web developers started demanding more and more bells and whistles so they could display the page exactly how they wanted it to, and then they had to determine exactly what browser it was being displayed on so they could work out how it wanted to display the page and use different hacks to make it display differently.

Re:I'm slowly but surely leaving web development (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40091923)

none of which are really compatible

Sure they are compatible. Just don't take advantage of "dumb browser trick of the week" and don't use your markup language as a pixel perfect graphics art language.

All browsers display "normal" HTML ... normally. At least since 1994 or so. Lets see... since I first saw a working browser on a Slowlaris box in the spring of '93 the only useful additions have been... what... SSL, CSS, more recently AJAX, and the removal of the blink tag... other than that?

You get into epic fail when only chrome version 352.1 supports embedded inline COBOL and you're just dying to use it so you use it and complain about your site only working on chrome 352.1 because all modern browsers need embedded inline COBOL and the end users demand it for their internet experience and what is wrong with the other browser devs and ...

You also get into epic fail when yoy try to control every little pixel on the screen, as if HTML is the web page analog of the old autocad command line. Most of those kind of people would be better off just hosting freaking huge gif files with imagemaps to click on. Or putting it in flash. Either is an extremely strong indication they are putting all their effort into appearance instead of content and can thus be ignored.

About 30 years ago the same people were using early desktop publishing to put 50 different fonts in 10 different sizes and 3 colors on each printed page, and any complaints about real world usability were ignored because they were left-brained artiste's, creatives, and lowly technical people couldn't possibly understand their elite level works of art. The old wheel of IT turns around endlessly for junk, not just the good stuff. 30 years from now we're going to be hearing the same stuff about cruddy over/hyper optimized 3-d sites and neural interfaces that "need" useless non-standard stuff.

Re:I'm slowly but surely leaving web development (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 2 years ago | (#40092093)

The difference between today and the bad old days of proprietary, locked down, or otherwise incompatible platforms is the number of consumers. It's easily possible to have a company that caters to only one niche market and make money simply because of the numbers. There's no need to get 30% of users to buy your product to make ends meet; less than 1% will pay the bills unless you've got Google overhead.

Re:I'm slowly but surely leaving web development (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 2 years ago | (#40092715)

... but it also is true that a few years ago we had a well-ordered world with 3 platforms at most and now with the mobile revolution we pratically are back in the 80ies with a bazillion proprietary platforms none of which are really compatible to one another. ...

The bottom line is that smartphones are taking the computer software industry backwards. About 20 years backwards in fact.

We have legions of shiny but shallow "apps" instead of useful, usable, and comprehensive applications. We have appallingly restrictive vendor control of OSes instead of free private development AND distribution. We have users stuck with small screens, no peripherals, and slow and expensive connections instead of quad core power machines with broadband connections and 20'' widescreens.

It's 1993 again. Shovelware crap is ubiquitous, there are no set standards, no-one knows how to use their devices, and worse the devices aren't yet actually useful for anything more serious than playing low resolution games and "surfing the web" for recreational purposes.

People need to wake up and realise that smartphones are little more than expensive toys with a phone tacked on. People need--at the very least--a laptop to get actual work(and play) done. And developers make money supplying the tools to get it done.

FYI (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091577)

Oracle just got their asses handed to them by judge Alsup. Won't you post a story about that, Slashdot???

Re:FYI (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#40091715)

ummm that wud be news...

There Is no choice, only WebKit (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#40091647)

All mobile browsers, save for WP7, are WebKit.

Posted from my N9, using webkit.

Re:There Is no choice, only WebKit (2)

marsu_k (701360) | about 2 years ago | (#40091805)

Right, which is why there is no such thing as mobile version of Firefox or Opera?

(no, not posted from my N900, but it has Opera, which beats the built-in browser)

Re:There Is no choice, only WebKit (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 2 years ago | (#40091853)

All mobile browsers, save for WP7, are WebKit.

Posted from my N9, using webkit.

There's Fennec from Mozilla, but yes, point taken.

Re:There Is no choice, only WebKit (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about 2 years ago | (#40091897)

I think you mean "all somewhat popular smartphone browsers except for Opera and WP7 are WebKit". Even then I'm not totally sure -- are Dolphin and all those other random Android browsers WebKit?

Best web browser is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091655)

For years I have used IE, Netscape, Firefox, Opera, Safari for Windows, but far and away, the best is Pale Moon!

Don't get a contract. (2)

Sir_Kurt (92864) | about 2 years ago | (#40091671)

Sure are a lot of options out there if you don't want to be tied to a contract. I got a new LG Alley phone for about $100 bucks on ebay, and signed up with page plus celluar. Cheap pay as you service, uses all the Verizon toweras, and I can do anything and load any browser I want.

Be flexible, but stand up to the man.

Kurt

and the good news is... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40091681)

the article predicts that 'the only opportunity you'll get to truly change browsers is when your two-year smartphone contract expires.'

That's the good news. There will still be change, and there will still be competition, but the pace will be slower / the stakes will be higher. Much better for everyone except paid browser devs.

(What I do / what I need my browser to do) hasn't changed much in years, yet there's an endless spewing stream of "just like before, except now does something you don't want and/or don't care about". Combined with a handy bit of gratuitous UI screwing up, and occasionally adding (or removing) features that addons used to successfully provide.

Sometimes its funny to imagine the whole paradigm and ecosystem of web browsers applied to other apps:

Imagine a "less" command that had major version number changes every week, and the only change the end users noticed was they swapped the pgup and pgdn keys because the UI designers said it was more intuitive. After all, when you hit page down, the page doesn't actually go down in your viewport, the imaginary paper is scrolling upwards past your viewpoint, right? So hit page up to read the next screen of the scroll. And because the only users that matter are new users, and this should make it easier for them, I guess we'll just have to do it.

Imagine a "gcc" that suddenly required all language keywords to be entered as "pig latin" instead of "english". Probably about ten years ago there was a weird translator for Perl that made it operate in ancient Latin, which I thought was pretty funny at the time.

Re:and the good news is... (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | about 2 years ago | (#40092211)

Imagine a "less" command that had major version number changes every week, and the only change the end users noticed was they swapped the pgup and pgdn keys because the UI designers said it was more intuitive. After all, when you hit page down, the page doesn't actually go down in your viewport, the imaginary paper is scrolling upwards past your viewpoint, right? So hit page up to read the next screen of the scroll.

You mean like in Mac OS X where they inverted the vertical scroll direction when using the mouse scroll wheel?

Re:and the good news is... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40092311)

Yeah, but to keep the "spirit" of high speed browser development you'd have to alternate the direction with each weekly major version release. That would be kind of funny.

What happened to APIs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40091779)

Why would a browser need low level access? Part of the job of the OS is to act as a middle man between applications and the hardware. It seems like Microsoft is to blame on the WindowsRT problem. IE should be communicating with the OS to produce functionality, not by-passing it. Whether it is the broser, rendering engine, or a compiler, there should by APIs available to all software.

dumb question, no? (5, Insightful)

markhahn (122033) | about 2 years ago | (#40091855)

or at least one that's been asked a million times before.

the question is whether you want to use an appliance or a general-purpose device. an appliance is relatively fixed-format, and congruent with the concept of a walled garden, as well as revenue plans that make your vendors mbaciles happy. an appliance normally does not have user-serviceable parts, so the vendor is in control of the UX. appliances are fundamentally fixed-function devices, even if the vendor is able to update and even extend it, since they define what the fixed functions are.

being general-purpose is the opposite: it means that the owner really does own (control) the device, and can change its function, install software without regard to what the device vendor provides, approves or even knows about. PCs are fully general-purpose, since everything, from the roms to the OS to add-in cards can be replaced by the device owner.

so the question is really: to what extent is the vendor trying to draw a line across which the device owner cannot cross? no device is truely fixed-function, and even control-freak vendors like Apple provide _some_ affordances through which the device may be extended (hardware connectors, software app-stores). this has always been controversial, since any vendor restriction is at odds with our natural understanding of what "ownership" means (and even companies like Apple tend to show some variance in how locked-down and fixed-function their devices are - I can install Linux on an Apple laptop/desktop without much trouble, but they put a lot of effort into making it hard to root any of the smaller devices.)

I think it's time we get back to basics: when I buy a device, I should completely control it. any anti-rooting mechanisms should be illegal - the same way it would be illegal for a car vendor to specifically detect and sabotage my car if I put on third-party wheels. sure, make me click through a license-revoking agreement. but if you sell me something, and then take control of it out of my hands, you've committed fraud.

we should not allow this issue to become an opportunity for vendors to segment their market by selling a version for tinkerers and another for grandma. mostly, vendors have this impulse because their mbaciles want to lock in customers. instead of just selling devices, the popularity of which is subject to whim, the mbacilic approach is to sell service contracts as well, preferably multi-year, to ensure that customers can't get away without paying, even if the vendor's quality degrades. fixed-function devices are inherently like long-term contracts, since customers want upgrades and new apps, and since they're locked in, you can shove profitable advertising down their digital throats, or at least mine their usage/search behaviors.

Re:dumb question, no? (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#40091993)

Please mod the parent up! The true issue at heart is device ownership. If you purchase the device, you should be able to do modify it as you see fit! After all, as the thread parent notes, you are welcome to customize a car. In fact, why should browsers even be closed source? Don't they have to be standards compliant in order to function on the internet? A car is open source - you can easily get the repair manuals for it. In this case, a web browser is the "car" on the information "highway." What possible advantages does locking down a browser offer? I can see making proprietary plugins (to a point) that ride on top of a browser but to force people into using one or the other has no utility other than to alienate him or her.

who uses a phone browser that often? (2)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 2 years ago | (#40091959)

It wouldn't matter that much to me because unless the content served up on my iPhone is designed for a mobile platform, it is almost impossible tor read, so I prefer the APP to the browser. as long as it is free, that is.

occasionally i do need to go to a website, and it is kind of a hellish experience because the sites I need to go to (local store's hours, phone #) are written for a desktop browser.

so unless the browser can magically convert a poorly designed website into something readable in a mobile format, it won't make a difference. (i'm also assuming mom&pop shops on the interwebz won't shell out cash for two platform designs, since they are still using flashing fonts and high-contrast tiled gif backgrounds.. ugh)

Shrug... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092009)

I have pretty much given up browsing on my phone in anything other than an information emergency. All the mobile browsers suck balls, and ports are clunky on the smaller platform. Give me a full-featured browser on my mobile device, or I will stick to tethering it to a real computer.

i regularly use 4 different browsers on android (1)

ecliptic_1 (122700) | about 2 years ago | (#40092221)

i regularly use 4 different browsers on android depending on the site:

built-in browser
chrome beta
dolphin hd
miren browser

choice is good. also i tend to use web apps more than regular apps for security reasons. for example i don't use the facebook app, i just use dolphin hd and send a desktop user agent.

Bogus conclusion (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#40092449)

(From the article and summary) Web pages that rely on JavaScript and JIT will be big losers.

The author claims this, but his "proof" is based on the upcoming Windows 8. Since we're talking about mobile browsers here... what Safari and Chrome do are relevant - what Windows Mobile is going to do is basically irrelevant until Microsoft figures out how to steal marketshare back from the two runaway leaders. Mobile Safari and Chrome handle javascript very well - so this conclusion is based on basically nothing.

Users who rely on JIT will be losers (2)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#40092771)

From the summary:

Web pages that rely on JavaScript and JIT will be big losers.

Two things wrong with this statement:

1. A browser lacking JIT will still process JavaScript, just more slowly.

2. While a web page might lose a few impatient users, and thus become a secondary loser, the primary loser is the one who is the subject of the summary: the smartphone user who is locked in to a particular browser.

Taking these together, the statement "Users who rely on JIT will be losers" would be more accurate.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40092869)

Good! Maybe it'll restrain the ridiculousness that is seeping into web pages these days. We're returning to the bad old days where you had to use different browsers for different websites for them to work properly and I for one don't want to see a return to that!

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