Tag Archives: Firefox

Need A Reason To Move From IE6 to IE8? Ask The Kids.

Last week, on their YouTube IE8 channel, Microsoft released a video in an attempt to push the poor souls who are still using IE6 to move to IE8. If this campaign looks familiar, it should. Well, at least in the States it should look familiar. Microsoft used kids in it’s campaign to inform the masses that Windows 7 was coming.

A brief history from my POV…

Internet Explorer has been a pain for web developers everywhere for years now. Back in the days, Microsoft had the intention to remake the web the way they wanted. Microsoft had an advantage with the fact that Internet Explorer was bundled with Windows. While regular users were unaware, those who cared knew the effects of Internet Explorer on the internet. These effects can be listed as effects on security and effects on standardizing the development of web pages and the programs that are written for these web sites.

A group called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) drafts “standards” which define how web pages can be developed. They also define programming methods for web programming languages. While Internet Explorer has adhered to a good deal of these standards, Microsoft has developed Internet Explorer in a way that goes against these standards by making it’s own rules for web sites.

In the early days of commercial web development, most developers would either make web sites that would either work correctly in Internet Explorer or Netscape – the major competitor to IE, or both. This was a challenge for two reasons: 1. Back then there just was not enough information widely available where developers could easily find the information needed to make web sites correctly. 2. As stated above, Internet Explorer came bundled with Windows making it more appealing to developers to just make web sites that worked in Internet Explorer without checking if the site worked in another browser. After all, everyone has Windows!

Along comes a Firefox…

Some years later, Firefox came along. Netscape was dying a quick death. It had been beaten hands down by Internet Explorer which was enjoying well over 90% of the browser market and was eventually sold off to AOL. Firefox appealed to people because it was more secure than Internet Explorer, which was integrated into Windows. It was faster than Internet Explorer. And for web developers, it was nearly standards compliant.

Firefox was a godsend for web developers who now had a poster child to point to “Internet Explorer Only” web developers and say, “See, this is how the web is supposed to look like!”. Since Firefox’s release, other worthy competitors have come out with their own standards compliant web browsers such as: Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera. These web browsers not only have excellent support for Cascading Style Sheets, but they also have excellent support for JavaScript.

Meanwhile, Internet Explorer continued to lag far behind. Internet Explorer 6, which is most at issue here, was released with better security (Ironic, considering IE6 and it’s integration into Windows was one of the big security problems pre Windows XP SP1) but little change in it’s support of web standards. IE6 still enjoyed widespread use and Microsoft saw no reason to change the way it approached the internet. However, because of the massive security problems that plagued Windows and IE, IE began to lose it’s lead in the browser market to the alternative browsers. IE7 was released with better (read: it’s ok but nothing big) CSS support and tabbed browsing – just like the alternative browsers. IE7 marked the time when an Internet Explorer browser was not part of the Windows shell – meaning it became a standalone program.

When IE8 was released IE’s dominance in the browser market had been seriously degraded as Firefox ate away at IE’s share with other alternative browsers far behind but slowly gaining. Internet Explorer finally had excellent CSS support but continued to have lousy JavaScript support. I maintain several web site and in the past year I have seen the number of visitors using IE drop sharply. The users still using IE6 have dropped even further.

Final thoughts and the video

It might be hard for someone who does not do commercial web development to understand the problems that I have run into over the years with web developer and Internet Explorer. Multi-browser testing is now a required part of web development. Web sites must be tested in all “major” browsers such as: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera. Throughout the time of commercial internet use, smart people have developed “hacks” in order to ensure that what a web site is supposed to look like, looks exactly the same way in Internet Explorer. This is not how it should be. All competing web browsers should display web pages the same way while developing ways for the browsers to render these pages faster and add additional features which will enhance your web surfing experience.

Getting all browser makers on board the standards train is imperative now. Microsoft, having been nearly defeated in the browser wars, is finally starting to realize that it needs to stand in line with everyone else. This is why it’s beginning this campaign. While this is a good thing, I don’t understand how this campaign will convince corporations and smaller businesses to move to IE8. I say this because there are, unfortunately, companies who use software that is specifically made for IE6 and lower. Upgrading this software for these companies will be expensive. The second reason is because IE6 will continue to enjoy some support from Microsoft for some years to come because Windows XP will have extended support until at least 2014. This is unfortunate and regardless what Ars has to say about it in that article, Microsoft does have some responsibility in killing support for IE6. After all, it was Microsoft’s fault in the first place.

Firefox Overheating CPUs… Oh Noes!!

Like my sensationalist headline? Grabs your attention does it? Well this is what happens when media makes a big deal about a story that is almost much ado about nothing.

I say almost for a reason…

According to CNET, the computer processor usage by Firefox is causing overheating problems in laptops and netbooks. Fair enough, but there is more to this story than the fact that Firefox is turning into a CPU/memory hog and that it will burn up your computer like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter. Apparently, this is such a story that Finnish network MTV3 has devoted some of it’s web space about it (in Finnish… the headline reads “Firefox could overheat your processor”).

The issue of space

For those that have never been inside a laptop or even a netbook, it’s cramped in there. There’s not a lot of real estate to work with as there is in desktop computers. Laptop/netbook manufacturers can only shrink parts so much and even then they are practically sitting side-by-side with another part. This brings on another problem, which is airflow. Because there is almost no empty space in a laptop or a netbook, there is no airflow. Yes, laptops have vent(s) and a fan that blows out the hot air from the processor. However it’s not enough. And if you are playing video or surfing the web, this makes the processor work. Just moving your mouse an inch or two make the processor work. The processor is essential to your computer. It’s the brain and it’s the engine.

Your computer runs on electricity and electricity moves through the insides of your computer when it is running. Basic science tells you that electricity is hot. Laptops/netbooks, while designed to use less power, still have power running through them. If you have your computer on for long enough, the parts inside it will eventually heat up. All of that heat has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, current technology limits how much heat a laptop/netbook can get rid of and that’s not good for it’s parts. Computer parts work better the cooler they are.

It’s not just Firefox…

The above statement is true. Firefox is not the only browser that can heat up your processor. Some commentators of the CNET article mentioned that IE actually doesn’t use the CPU like the other browsers. Also, some fanboy was screaming at the top of his lungs about Opera. I made sure to include these two browsers in my little test.

Test sepcifications

  • Windows Vista Home Premium OEM 32-bit
  • HP dv9000 series laptop
  • Athlon Turion 64 X2
  • nVidia 8400M – Yes, one of the mobile GPU chips that suffered the huge overheating problems. Yes, the motherboard has already been replaced once.
  • 3GB RAM

Besides the browser and a wireless connection, Object Dock, Adobe Photoshop (no open documents) and Windows Live Messenger were also open but running in the background.

Below you can view screenshots I took of various browsers and the Windows Task Manager.

Google Chrome CPU UseIE 8 CPU UseSafari Windows CPU UseOpera CPU Use

In order: Google Chrome 3, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Safari 4 and Opera 10.10

As you can see each browser pictured above is using a sizable amount of processor power to run one tab displaying the MTV3 Firefox story page. Every page is displaying no less than 3 Flash ads and there is a fair amount of JavaScript being used on the page.

Google Chrome fmi.fi CPU useIE 8 fmi.fi CPU useSafari fmi.fi CPU useOpera fmi.fi CPU use

In order: Google Chrome 3, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Safari 4 and Opera 10.10

Not so busy anymore, is it? The web page pictured above is to the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website local weather page. This page displays 0 flash ads and very little JavaScript.

The point of the story is that the media has chosen Firefox to be the culprit of your overheating CPU. While Firefox obviously uses your processor, so does every other browser. They have to use your processor. Not only do they need to just open and stay open so you can use it, they have to display the Flash ads and video you watch in your browser and process the programs that help you use web sites more efficiently.

In the end, there is just far more to the heat your laptop/netbook generates than you think. Don’t be fooled by media stories like this that try to scare you. Just remember:

  1. Laptops and netbooks have very little space to where heat can escape.
  2. Today’s web sites use technology which needs your computer’s power to run.
  3. There’s no need to panic, the sky is not falling. Just remember that if you are not using your computer for a period of time, either close your browser or if you need to keep your browser open then put your computer to sleep or put it in hibernation. Putting it to sleep or in hibernation will save what you are doing to your computer’s memory or hard drive, respectively. This way, you can let your computer cool off and when you want to use your computer again, all of your information will still be there.