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Top web browsers 2019: No end in sight for Firefox’s losses

If Firefox were a ship, it would be becalmed on a flat sea, loosened seams leaking faster than the hand-worked pumps can empty the bilge, passengers springing overboard and swimming toward other vessels – those with sails bearing rivals’ logos.

According to data published Sunday by analytics company Net Applications, Firefox’s share for November slumped to 8.2%, down half a percentage point. It was the seventh month in the last 12 in which Firefox spilled share, the fifth where the loss amounted to a half point or more.

From 2005, when Firefox was scratching its way out of the single digits in an insurrection against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), the browser has posted lower shares only three times, all in a short stretch of 2016 when Firefox bottomed out at 7.7%. That time, the browser clawed back to 13% (in October 2017) before again shrinking.

Unless something suddenly stems Firefox’s current free-fall, the browser will return to that low point of 7.7% by June, according to Computerworld‘s forecast, which relies on Firefox’s 12-month average. That same forecast predicts the open-source browser will dip under 8% as early as January.

Mozilla’s efforts to make Firefox more attractive as a browser choice have failed to move the share needle. From its November 2017 “Quantum” relaunch to its recent emphasis on the hottest browser topic – privacy in general, blocking ad and site trackers more specifically – the improvements and enhancements have been accompanied by collective shrug. Or worse, a step toward the exit.

Historically, Firefox has been the counterweight to the then-current leader, first IE, then Google’s Chrome. Firefox’s flirtation with irrelevancy as exhibited by its smaller user share may see that counterweight go weightless. Microsoft’s decision to adopt Google’s browser technology for its reborn Edge strengthened the monoculture. Sans Firefox, the browser choice becomes Chrome or near-Chrome.

Chrome: Settling into its spot?

During November, Chrome lost a quarter of a percentage point, dipping to 67.2%, the browser’s lowest mark since June.

While the loss was little more than a rounding error and could not be considered a threat to Chrome’s dominance by any stretch, Google’s browser may be close to its upper-end limit.

Last month’s share was identical to Chrome’s number at the start of the year, for one, so for all the wild swings — up 2.3 points one month, down 1.7 points the next — it ended where it began. And although Chrome shed three-quarters of a percentage point in the past six months, in the last three the movements were a wash, hinting that changes to share have slowed.

The forecast based on the 12-month average foretold some gains — Chrome should make the 68% mark by June — but the prophesied increase was significantly less than a month ago, when the prediction contended Chrome would hit 70% by mid-2020.

IE edges Edge

Microsoft’s browsers recovered three-tenths of a percentage point in November, the second straight month of share gains (and only the fourth time that’s happened in the last five years). IE+Edge ended November at 12.8%.

That total was tallied of two browsers, IE and Edge, with the increase credited entirely to the ancient and obsolete IE, not the at-least-newer Edge: IE climbed four-tenths of a point to 6.8% while Edge fell a tenth to 6%.

Because Windows 10’s share of all operating systems also declined, Edge remained with an 11.2% share of all Windows 10 browser activity, the level it’s been stuck at for a full quarter.

Measuring Edge against Windows 10 will soon be impossible, as the revamped browser — Microsoft tossed its own technologies and built a new Edge from Google’s Chromium – will reach release status Jan. 15, launching for Windows 7 and 8.1 as well as 10, not to mention macOS.

Whether Edge’s remodel will result in a jolt to its user share is unknown. Microsoft is, if not counting on Edge’s phoenix-rising, eager to put a thumb on the scale to boost the chances; it will automatically replace the original homegrown Edge with the Chromium-based version rather than wait as users do what they do best, stick with the status quo.

Edge may never gain much ground in Net Applications’ measurements. The California metrics vendor best quantifies individuals’ browsing activity, and while Microsoft wouldn’t object if that group dumped Chrome for a Chrome clone, there’s good evidence that the retuned Edge is a corporate play.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ numbers, Apple’s Safari gained half a percentage point for the fourth consecutive month, climbing to 5.3%, and Opera Software’s browser remained flat at 1.3%. Safari’s increase came as macOS climbed six-tenths of a percentage point to 11.6%, a record for Apple’s operating system. For November, Safari’s share of macOS rose to 45.6%, the highest mark since December 2017, showing that it is possible for a browser to convince customers to ditch Chrome for a browser they’d used before.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers that render the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure browser user activity.



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Top web browsers 2019: Chrome seesaws yet again

Chrome last month continued its seesaw in user share, throwing away most of the gains it had made the month prior while remaining fully in charge of the browser market.

According to data published today by California analytics vendor Net Applications, Chrome’s share for October dropped by 1.1 percentage points to 67.4%. It was the fourth straight time that Chrome shed some of its share the month following an increase of one point or more. In September, Chrome had recorded a boost of 1.3 points.

The up-down has not always resulted in a net gain for each months’ pairings, and when increases have outweighed losses of the month previous, the upside has been small. That’s why over the course of the past 12 months, Chrome has climbed by just one percentage point.

Yet the difference between Chrome, the browser leader, and the next in line – Microsoft’s Double-mint twins of Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge – was 54.9 points, nearer the high end of the 12-month range between 51.7 and 56.5. That metric shows that Chrome’s position is solid. Very solid, in fact.

Computerworld now forecasts that Chrome will return to 68% shortly (within three months at the most) and crack 70% by June. Even if its seesaw keeps at it.

Firefox slips

One of the unanswered questions in Browser Land is whether Mozilla’s Firefox can survive. Can the browser, which kicked off renewed competition in the space – when it launched in 2004, Microsoft’s IE had eradicated all rivals – keep its head above the proverbial water, say, above the very-minor-browser marker of 5%?

Good question.

Firefox lost one-tenth of a percentage point during October, ending the month at 8.6%. Although that wasn’t Firefox’s nadir of the past 12 months, it was the third-lowest number during that period and the sixth-lowest overall (or at least since the browser crawled out of the single digits in early 2006).

It’s almost painful to watch Firefox struggle to sustain its share, much less grow it. In October, the browser’s user share was below the median for the past 12 months (9.1%) and significantly under the median for the 12-month span before that (November 2017-October 2018, 10.2%).

Although Mozilla continues to stress Firefox’s privacy chops – the latest upgrade added tools that block social media networks’ trackers – that has not resonated enough with potential users to bring large numbers to the browser.

By Net Applications’ data, Firefox’s near future looks weak, but not necessarily bleak. Using the browser’s average movement over the last 12 months, Firefox should remain above 8% for the next year, dipping below that only in November 2020. But if the past six months are a better clue, Firefox is in trouble: That forecast would put the browser under 8% as soon as January, under 7% by June and below 5% as soon as December 2020.

(The difference in the two predictions? The six-month average contains three months of large, more-than-half-a-point losses, which dominated the total. Those three months were diluted in the 12-month average.)

How long will Microsoft maintain IE?

Microsoft’s recovery from September’s all-time browser low wasn’t much of a come-back, but it was better than nothing. In October, the Redmond, Wash. company’s browsers snatched back some of the share they lost the month before, adding four-tenths of a percentage point to up its share balance to almost 12.5%.

The firm’s total was, as always, composed of two different browsers, IE and Edge. And the increase was neatly split between the pair, each adding about two-tenths of a percentage point to the kitty. IE climbed to 6.4%, while Edge edged up to 6.1%.

Windows 10’s share of all operating systems climbed at almost the same rate, so Edge simply kept its share of Windows 10’s browsers at the same 11.2% of September. That mark, remember, was the lowest of the year so far, but not a record low. (The latter would be the 10.9% in September 2018.)

Meanwhile, IE’s increase translated into a slight boost in its share of all Windows browsers, ending October up two-tenths of a point to 7.3%. That IE’s portion of all Windows browsers has fallen by about a fourth – a year-ago, the number was 10.6% – is proof of its fast fade among customers.

Within months, Microsoft will finalize its “full-Chromium” Edge, which will feature an integrated IE mode that replicates that browser for the corporate users who still need it – notably IE’s ActiveX controls – to run aged web apps and obsolescing intranet sites. At some point after the new IE’s debut, Microsoft will forcibly replace the old Edge on Windows 10 PCs (and likely push it onto the Windows 7 systems being serviced by the for-a-free Extended Support Release (ESR) after that OS’s public retirement) with the new.

Computerworld has speculated that Microsoft will eventually purge IE from Windows machines and tell the few customers then still needing the browser to instead rely only on the mode inside Edge. That forecast has been driven by IE’s quickly-declining share. A year from now, going by its performance over the past 12 months, IE will be run by less than 3.5% of all Windows users, just not enough to warrant a separate application.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, Apple’s Safari gained half a percentage point for the second consecutive month, climbing to 4.8%, and Opera Software’s browser stayed dropped a tad to 1.3%. Safari’s increase came in the face of a dip in macOS, which lost about six-tenths of a percentage point in October. That drop in macOS – expected as it was because September’s nearly-two percentage point leap was clearly not realistic – contributed to pushing Safari’s share of Apple’s operating system to 43.9%, the highest it’s been since March 2018.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure browser user activity.



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Spice Up Your Browser’s Homepage with These 10 Random Website Generators

Web Browser Homescreen
Robert Avgustin/Shutterstock

Having the same homepage every time you open your web browser can get boring after a while. Here are ten websites that will deliver a random fun fact, video, or piece of information to you every time you open your browser.

If you want to keep your existing homepage, you can always change things up by having multiple homepages. Right-click the links below to copy the link you need and add it to your home page settings (or bookmark it) in your browser of choice.

Not sure how to change your home page? We’ve got you covered, whether you’re on Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia Logo

Everyone’s favorite encyclopedia—Wikipedia— has a random page option that will display a page from its collection of nearly 6 million pages.

If you want to use a different language, change the “en” in the URL to the appropriate language, such as “es” for Spanish or “de” for German. This is also really useful if you’re learning a new language.

Additionally, most sites built on this wiki format have a “random” option, which brings us neatly to . . .

Wookieepedia

Wookiepedia Logo

The Wookiepedia wiki also includes a random page option. If you’re a Star Wars fan—as many of us here at How-To Geek are—then there’s a good chance this will eat up time like nothing else.

You can read the long back story of a character, place, or weapon you previously knew virtually nothing about. Then you’ll click links to other interesting characters, places, or weapons, and before you know it, you’ll have 20 tabs open and you’ve done nothing productive for an hour. Ask us how we know.

Reddit

Reddit Logo

Love Reddit but struggle to read anything outside your favorite subreddits? This one’s for you.

By pointing your browser’s homepage to r/random, you’ll be taken to a subreddit you might have never seen before. Be warned though, some subreddits will undoubtedly draw you into an argument, debate, or story in ways that only Reddit can.

Optical Illusions

BrainBashers Logo

Who doesn’t love looking at something that makes us feel like we can’t trust our eyes and might give us a headache? No one, that’s who.

BrainBashers’ random page option takes you to a random optical illusion, so you can start every day remembering you really can’t always believe what you see. You’ll need to have JavaScript enabled, so you can click on each illusion to see the “reality” behind it.

Wallpapers

Wallhaven Logo

From one visual feast to another, only this time the images aren’t intended to induce a migraine: a collection of random, and often beautiful, wallpapers from Wallhaven. This is definitely another page that can draw you into long periods of browsing, but it’s art, right? So it’s ok.

Coloring Pages

Just Color Logo

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to color their own images rather than browse the work of others, how about a random selection of coloring pages you can print from Just Color? It’s a chance to create some art of your own and be a little bit mindful all at the same time.

Products on Etsy

Etsy Logo

On the subject of art and beautiful things, how about some random Etsy finds? Not so much a random page as a random search, but the results change fairly regularly.

If you like to shop for odd things you wouldn’t normally find, this will have you draining your PayPal account before you know it.

Quotations

The Quotations Page Logo

Looking for something a bit more tasteful and dignified? Visit The Quotations Page and have some random quotations from persons both real and imaginary.

Each quote includes links to the author’s other quotes if you find them particularly engaging. Then memorize them so you can appear wise in the eyes of your workmates.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary Logo

From the sublime to the NSFW. Urban Dictionary has a random page that will definitely teach you new definitions you didn’t know before. Fair warning: Almost everything here shouldn’t be looked at while at work or in front of kids.

Random YouTube Videos

Random Lists Logo

Sadly, YouTube itself doesn’t have a random option. Happily, RandomLists (which also has random pages for movies, songs, and gifs) has come to the rescue.

The videos aren’t entirely random as they tend towards recently popular videos. But with thousands of videos uploaded to the streaming platform every day, chances are you’ll have rarely seen any of them before.

Other Random Sites

Take Me to Another Useless Website Logo Border

If you want truly random silliness, The Useless Web is perfect. It has a button you click to be taken to completely random—and pointless—websites.

For example, you might land on a website like Tiny Tuba, which contains an image of a very small tuba that plays a few notes when you click it. Entirely pointless and entirely joyful.





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The 5 Best Portable Web Browsers for Your USB Drive

Most computers you use every day will have a web browser pre-installed. However, there are times when you might need to use a portable browser instead.

But which are the best portable web browsers? We’re going to introduce you to five standalone browsers that you can put on a USB drive and take anywhere.

Why Use a Portable Web Browser?

The use cases are more varied than you might think. For example, perhaps your school or office does not allow you to install browser extensions. If you want to use an ad-blocker or a browser-based VPN, that can be a problem.

Or perhaps you like using a niche browser that’s not typically available on public machines. Again, a portable version of the browser might provide the solution.

And remember, portable browsers will still work on all machines which do not allow you to install your own software.

Which Is the Best Portable Browser?

Convinced you about the benefits of keeping a lightweight, portable browser close by on a flash drive? Good. But which one is the best?

Let’s take a look at our top five favorite portable browsers.

1. Opera Portable

Available on: Windows, macOS

Opera offers an easy-to-use standalone portable browser for Windows.

There are no differences between the desktop version and the portable version. That means you can enjoy all Opera’s best features such as ad-blocking, personal newsreader, and the battery saver. All your bookmarks, extensions, and data will only save to your profile on the USB drive, not to the host computer.

You can also make Opera work as a portable web browser for macOS, but it’s a bit trickier to set up:

  1. Download and mount the image of the regular version of Opera for macOS.
  2. Drag Opera from the disk image to your USB drive.
  3. Open the Terminal app and type /Contents/MacOS/Opera -createsingleprofile.
  4. Press Enter.

There is no portable version of Opera for Linux, though you can use Wine to get the app to work.

Download: Opera Portable for Windows | Opera for macOS (Free)

2. Firefox

firefox standalone browser

Available on: Windows, Linux (with Wine)

A portable version of Firefox for Windows has been available since 2004. It was the first app to become available on the now popular PortableApps.com website. You cannot download it from the main Firefox page.

Most of the best Firefox features are available, including extensions and automatic updating. Due to speed issues when updating an app on a USB drive, you can turn on the update prompt if you wish. The portable version of the browser also lets you access your own bookmarks and preferred settings.

Some of the key differences between the desktop version of Firefox and the standalone browser include the addition of a default profile, the removal of the default browser check at start-up, a location prompt for every download, and the removal of the disk cache.

Firefox Portable will work with Wine on UNIX systems.

Download: Firefox Portable for Windows (Free)

3. Vivaldi Standalone

vivaldi portable web browser usb

Available on: Windows

Vivaldi can be deployed as a portable browser on a USB drive. This time, however, the option to create a standalone version of the browser has been coded into the main app’s installer; there is no separate download.

To set up a portable version of Vivaldi, you first need to grab the app from the company’s official website. Once you’ve downloaded it, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

  1. Run the Vivaldi installer.
  2. On the first window, select Advanced.
  3. In the Installation type dropdown menu, select Install standalone.
  4. Choose a destination folder. You can run it on a USB drive, CD, or even in another Windows directory if you want two versions of the app on your operating system. Do not select the Program Files folder.
  5. Hit Accept.

Unlike some of the other browsers on this list, your Vivaldi extensions will not be transferred to the portable version of the app. They are encrypted with a computer-specific key.

Download: Vivaldi Standalone for Windows (Free)

4. Avant Browser USB Disk Version

avant usb browser

Available on: Windows

Avant Browser USB Disk Version is one of the most lightweight portable web browsers. You will struggle to find any browser on the Windows operating system with lower memory usage.

Some of the browser’s other key features include:

  • Video Sniffer: You can download a video off any webpage with a single click.
  • Split View: Both the desktop and portable version of Avant offer the Split View feature. You can use it to view—and browse—two different sites at the same time.
  • Synced Bookmarks: Your bookmarks will be available on all your Avant apps.
  • RSS Reader: If you’re looking for a native and reliable RSS reader, Avant offers a solid solution.

The only significant difference between the desktop browser and the portable browser is where user profiles are saved. On the portable version, they are in the same folder as the Avant app.

Download: Avant Browser USB Disk Version for Windows (Free)

5. Comodo IceDragon

comodo portable web browser

Available on: Windows

Comodo IceDragon is based on Firefox. It has a full desktop version and a portable browser version for Windows.

Of course, Comodo is best known for its anti-virus software, so it’s no surprise to find the browser packed with security features.

The most appealing feature is arguably its secure DNS service. All users can access Comodo’s DNS servers for free. Aside from faster browsing, Comodo’s DNS users will also benefit from malware domain filtering, a real-time block list of harmful websites, and a reduction in DNS poisoning attacks.

In terms of installation, Comodo takes the same approach as Vivaldi. You need to download the regular version of the app, then tick the box labeled Portable version (user profile is stored in destination folder) during the setup process.

Download: Comodo IceDragon for Windows (Free)

Warning: Avoid the Chromium Portable Web Browser

We used to recommend Chromium as one of the best portable browsers; many sites still do. Sadly, it’s no longer a good idea. It hasn’t been updated since July 2017 and runs on Chromium version 61. No further updates are planned.

Older browsers are notorious for being security nightmares. If you run a browser that’s several years old, you’re asking for trouble.

The Best Portable Browser for USB Drives

So, which is the best portable browser? For us, it’s a toss-up between Opera and Firefox. For Windows users, the easy-to-run USB version of Opera is appealing, but long-time Firefox users might struggle to pull themselves away.

To learn more about portable apps, check out our other article on the best portable apps that don’t require installation


The Best Portable Apps That Require No Installation




The Best Portable Apps That Require No Installation

Portable apps don’t need installation. You can run them from even a flash drive. Here are the best portable apps around.
Read More

and our explanation of how portable apps can make your life easier


How Portable Apps Can Make Your Life Easier & Save Resources




How Portable Apps Can Make Your Life Easier & Save Resources

If you frequently switch computers and have cloud storage space or USB drives to spare, here’s an idea: outsource your applications.
Read More

.

Image Credit: karandaev/Depositphotos



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Top web browsers 2019: Microsoft’s browser share falls to record low

Microsoft’s browsers stumbled last month, dropping share like a lame Netflix series and falling to a record low after wiping out all of 2019’s gains, plus more.

According to data published today by analytics company Net Applications, Microsoft’s browser share for September – composed of Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge – fell 1.8 percentage points to 12%, an all-time low. To put the decline in perspective, the browsers accounted for a user share of 12.4% at the first of this year and hit a high of 14% in April.

More than two-thirds of that decline was attributed to IE, which plummeted by nearly 1.4 points, falling to 6.1%, a record low for the browser that once lorded if over the web. Edge also slid in September, losing four-tenths of a percentage point and dropping to 5.9%. Edge’s slip erased almost all of its gains in August, when the Windows 10-only browser reached a record high.

Because of the concurrent rise in Windows 10’s share of all operating systems, Edge’s raw decline translated into a more substantial drop in its share of Windows 10’s browsers. That number fell to 11.2% in September, the lowest level all year.

Although the “full-Chromium” Edge, the version Microsoft’s building using technologies from the Google-dominated Chromium project, is under construction, the browser’s future is cloudy at best. Clarity won’t come until Microsoft finishes the Chromium-based Edge and forces that onto Windows 10 users, something the company has said it will do at some point after launch.

IE fared even worse in a comparison with all the other browsers that run on Windows. By Net Applications’ numbers, IE accounted for only 7% of all Windows browsing last month, also a record low. Microsoft kept IE on support only because some organizations require it for aged apps or intranet sites, but that rationale has faded fast: In the last 12 months, IE’s share of all Windows declined by 60%. Another year like that and IE will be an afterthought run by fewer than 5% of Windows users.

Firefox scratches, survives another month

Firefox added three-tenths of a percentage point to its user share in September, wrapping up the month at 8.7% and marking the second straight month of keeping things in the black. Even so, it was fourth consecutive month that Firefox remained under 9%, tying a record set in May, June, July and August 2016.

Although it was another month that Firefox scratched out some gains, the browser still stands on shaky ground. Because the last 12 months shows a decline of nearly a percentage point, Computerworld‘s revised forecast – based on the 12-month average – has Firefox slipping under 8% about mid-2020.

For all of Mozilla’s work on Firefox – from the redesign two years ago to its aggressive adoption of anti-tracking and pro-privacy measures – nothing has kicked the browser into sustained growth. A year ago, Firefox’s share was 9.6%; when Mozilla introduced Firefox Quantum in November 2017, the share was 11.4%. Only three of the past 18 months recorded shares of 10% or more.

Chrome commandeers more share

Google’s Chrome put another 1.3 percentage points on its frame, weighing in for the month at 68.5%, just a tenth of a point off the record high set in July.

Last month, Computerworld noted the odd pattern to Chrome’s share, stretches when the browser would add share one month, lose much of it the next. That continued in September – this has been regular as the proverbial clockwork since February – when Chrome went on its growth spurt after shedding 1.4 points in August.

If the tick-tock continues this month, October should be a downer for Chrome.

But as Computerworld has said before, what counts is the long-term movement of a browser. There, Chrome has done well, adding 2.1 percentage points to its share over the last year. Another sign: The 68.5% of September was the second-highest mark for the browser, edged out only by July’s 68.6%.

Chrome’s gains, stymied as they have been at times by losing months, put a new spin on Computerworld‘s prediction of its future. Using the 12-month average, the forecast pegs Chrome at more than 69% in November and over 70% by May.

Computerworld has Net Application records going back to January 2005, so it’s possible to compare Chrome’s prowess today with IE’s of yesteryear.

Google comes off second best there – for now, at least – because IE’s share was an astounding 89.4% that month. The remainder was split among rivals, including Firefox (at 5.6%), Apple’s Safari (1.7%) and Netscape’s Navigator (2%). It wasn’t until December 2008 that IE’s share fell to about where Chrome’s is now.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, Apple’s Safari grew by half a percentage point to 4.4% and Opera Software’s browser stayed where it was at 1.4%. Safari’s increase was the second straigh,t but was a due entirely to a nearly-two percentage point leap by macOS that put the operating system in unknown territory (and likely on shaky ground; macOS’ 11.6% simply won’t stand up).

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure browser user activity.



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Browsers Are Bringing Automatic Dark Mode to Websites

Chrome logo over a dark background with dry ice smoke clouds.
nalyvme/Shutterstock.com

Dark mode is now everywhere, including in iOS 13 and Android 10. Web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge have embraced dark mode, too. Now, browsers are bringing automatic dark mode to websites thanks to a feature called prefers-color-scheme.

Websites Can Now Detect Dark Mode Like Apps Can

YouTube's webside with the dark theme enabled

Some sites offer dark modes today. For example, you can enable dark mode on YouTube, Twitter, or Slack in a few clicks. That’s pretty cool, but who wants to enable this option separately each time they visit a new website?

When you enable dark mode on Windows 10, macOS, iOS, or Android, the applications you use all know you’ve enabled dark mode and can automatically enable it. Google Chrome doesn’t even have an easy-to-access dark mode option. Chrome just automatically adjusts itself based on your overall operating system choice.

In the past, there wasn’t a way for websites to automatically implement dark mode. Even if your browser’s interface goes dark, websites will continue using their bright backgrounds. You have to manually enable dark mode or use a browser extension that forces dark mode.

It wasn’t web developers’ faults—they had no way of detecting whether dark mode was enabled on your device. That’s changed with a new cascading style sheets (CSS) feature websites can take advantage of.

It’s Already In a Browser Near You

Enabling dark mode in Windows 10's Settings app

The answer to this problem is prefers-color-scheme, a CSS feature that websites can use to ask your web browser whether you have dark mode enabled. A web page can use a different theme depending on whether you have dark mode enabled or disabled.

This feature was only recently added to modern web browsers in 2019.

  • Google Chrome for all platforms (including Android) has supported it since Chrome 76, released on July 30.
  • Safari for iPhone and iPad gets it with Safari 13 as part of iOS 13 on September 19.
  • Mozilla Firefox has supported it since Firefox 67, released on May 21.
  • Safari for Mac has supported it since Safari 12.1, released on April 5.
  • Microsoft Edge doesn’t support it, but the new Chromium-based Edge browser will.

This isn’t an option you select in your browser itself. Just choose between light and dark modes in your operating system, your browser will obey the change, and websites can follow along and automatically enable dark mode if they like.

So Where Are the Dark Mode Websites?

While this feature is live today and working in all the popular browsers, it’s very new. Dark mode comes to iPhone and iPad with the new iOS 13. On the Android side, only Android phones with the new Android 10 have dark mode support. Even Google Chrome on desktop has only supported prefers-color-scheme for a few weeks.

It’s just so new. You likely won’t encounter many websites that use prefers-color-scheme to automatically enable dark mode yet.

That will hopefully change in the future. Websites can now respect your dark mode preference and automatically follow it. Web developers have a new option they can take advantage of.

We love dark mode. Now that it’s an option on all the latest operating systems, we’ll be excited to see it spread across the web.

RELATED: Dark Mode Isn’t Better For You, But We Love It Anyway





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Top web browsers 2019: Edge edges up

Microsoft’s Edge completed a six-month surge in user share that represented a 24% increase and brought the browser to its highest-ever level.

According to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications, Edge’s August user share rose by half a percentage point to 6.3%, a record for the browser in its first four years. During the six months ending Aug. 31, Edge added 1.6 points to its share, the equivalent of a 24% boost.

The growth by Edge, however, did not translate into a similar-sized increase in the browser’s portion of Windows 10 browsers because the operating system jumped up more than two percentage points. (Although the “full-Chromium” Edge, the version Microsoft’s building using the Google-dominated Chromium project’s technologies, has been released in preview for non-Windows 10 OSes, it’s a certainty that the vast bulk of Edge’s users are on 10.)

By Net Applications’ numbers, Edge accounted for only 12.4% of all Windows 10 browser activity, a half a point increase over the month prior. But the six-month increase of Edge’s share of Windows 10 was a measly 4%.

It may be tempting to credit Microsoft’s switch to Chromium for the increase but Microsoft did not give users a working preview until mid-April. Of the four months since, two recorded decreases in Edge’s browser share.

Until Microsoft rolls out a polished version of full-Chromium Edge – a Stable channel build, using Chrome’s nomenclature, which Microsoft has adopted – and better yet forces the new Edge onto Windows 10 users – Computerworld is convinced it will be impossible to pin the browser’s ups and downs on the revamp.

On the share stairs, Chrome takes one step down after two up

After a near-record leap in July, Chrome last month dropped 1.4 percentage points, falling to 67.2%, the same number it booked at the start of 2019.

Chrome has had a habit of doing this two up, one back – or even two up, two back – recently. In May, Chrome added 2.3 points, then promptly lost 1.6 points in June. July saw an increase of another 2.3 percentage points, with August subtracting 1.4 of those.

The ups and downs have produced projections that have been alternately up- then downbeat. This one is the latter: Chrome now won’t reach the 70% milestone until December 2020, a full year later than the forecast of just last month. (Reality will likely be somewhere in between.) But there’s still no signal that Chrome’s rise has plateaued, much less that it’s in danger or reversing.

Edge’s 1.5 percentage point increase over the last six months notwithstanding, there simply isn’t a competitor worth the name among the browsers-not-named-Chrome.

Firefox hangs on

Firefox added a tenth of a percentage point to its user share in August, wrapping up the month at 8.4% and putting an end to a three-month slide.

But August was also the third consecutive month that Firefox remained under the 9% bar. Its record: Four straight months below 9% in May through August 2016.

While Firefox at least didn’t lose share, it continued to flirt with disaster. Computerworld‘s revised forecast put the browser under 8% by November and predicted that the browser will drop below 7% by August 2020.

It becomes harder and harder to visualize how Mozilla will work its way out of the browser basement. Can its focus on privacy, specifically the emphasis on blocking web trackers, convince millions to try (or retry) Firefox? That seems tough when every rival but Chrome rushes to implement their own anti-tracking. Is the enterprise Firefox’s salvation? How can it be when Microsoft positions Edge as more-or-less-Chrome but with its enterprise imprimatur? Firefox needs a solid six months of growth at a minimum to convince anyone that it has put possible extinction behind it.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ numbers, Apple’s Safari grew by half a percentage point to 3.9% and Opera Software’s browser slid a tad to 1.4%. The only silver lining for either was Safari’s share of all macOS-powered computers – 39.8% – was the highest since May 2018.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure browser user activity.



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The Best Roku Web Browsers to Use

Can you browse the internet on a Roku? Yes! Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to install an internet browser on your Roku. On the downside, the number of Roku web browser options are very limited and lacking in features.

Nonetheless, if you want to learn about the best Roku web browser options, along with a workaround that offers a better web browsing experience, keep reading.

Does Roku Have an Internet Browser?

If you want to use your streaming device as a web browser, Roku sticks and set-top boxes are definitely not the best option.

Despite being around for several years (and despite several of Roku’s main competitors offering internet browsers on their own streaming devices), there are only two browsers in the Roku Channel Store. Neither of them developed by Roku itself.

The Best Roku Web Browser in the Channel Store

The two Roku web browsers that are available in the official Roku Channel Store are Web Browser X and POPRISM Web Browser.

1. Web Browser X

roku web browser x

The best Roku web browser is Web Browser X. We use the word “best” somewhat loosely. If you’re expecting a slick and modern interface, you’re going to be disappointed. Web Browser X looks like it was designed in the early 1990s; the fonts and the interface are shockingly old fashioned.

That said, it does work—though it will struggle to render and format highly complex pages. There are some pre-saved favorites (such as Google News, CNN, and ABC News), but you can visit any site by entering the URL. You can also add your own frequently visited sites to your list of favorites.

To navigate a web page, use the left and right buttons on your remote to cycle through the links on a page, and use the up and down arrows to scroll through the text.

On the downside, the browser cannot play videos (so stay clear of YouTube et al.), and it cannot fill in web forms, username fields, and password fields.

And another word of warning. During the research for this piece, I downloaded the app from the Mexican version of the Channel Store. It told me the price was $0.00, but then generated a monthly invoice of $4.99 against my account. The US version of the store does indeed list the price at $4.99/month, so there is a discrepancy between the different national stores. Make sure you’re not caught out.

2. POPRISM Web Browser

roku poprism web browser

The only other Roku web browser in the Channel Store is POPRISM Web Browser. Frankly, it’s many levels worse than Web Browser X.

That’s because it can only read text— there are no images, no GUIs, no CSS, no JavaScript, and so on. Whichever site you visit, you’ll just see a mass of unformatted text.

Needless to say, therefore, the browser is utterly useless for the vast majority of sites. It’s just about passable for text forums, RSS feeds, and other content that’s extremely text-heavy. Basic Google search results are also readable.

On the positive side, the POPRISM Roku browser didn’t try and scam me out of $4.99. You’ve got to look for the bright spots.

Use Screen Mirroring to Browse the Internet on Roku

As we’ve now established, it is possible to install a Roku web browser, but the solutions available are far from ideal.

Therefore, the best approach is to use screen mirroring and cast a browser directly from your phone or computer directly to your Roku device.

How to Cast a Web Browser to Roku from Windows

roku windows connection

Besides the Roku internet browsers available in the channel store, the only other option is to cast a browser from your phone or computer to your Roku using screen mirroring.

To cast a Windows web browser to Roku, follow the step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Check your Roku is running at least version 7.7 of the operating system by heading to Settings > System > About. If it’s not, navigate to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now and let the process complete.
  2. On Windows, open the Action Center by clicking on the appropriate link in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.
  3. Click on the Connect tile. If you cannot see it straight away, you may need to click on Expand.
  4. Allow Windows to scan for your Roku. The process could take up to 30 seconds.
  5. Click on the Roku’s name in the list of devices. The connection will then occur automatically.
  6. Open your web browser of choice and start surfing.

To disable casting, select Stop Video on your TV screen or hit Disconnect on Windows.

How to Cast a Web Browser to Roku from Android

If you’d prefer to browse the internet on Roku from your Android phone or tablet, follow these instructions instead:

  1. Open your Android’s Settings app.
  2. Go to Connected Devices > Pair New Devices.
  3. Wait for Android to find your Roku streaming stick or set-top box.
  4. Tap on the name of your Roku and wait for the connection to initialize.
  5. Open the web browser you want to use on your Roku.

(Note: Not all Android devices support Miracast. For more information, consult the manufacturer’s literature.)

Even Screen Mirroring Has Its Downsides

Unfortunately, even casting a browser to Roku has some drawbacks.

Firstly, Roku screen mirroring relies on Miracast technology


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. That means only Windows and Android devices can cast their screens natively. Neither iOS and macOS have support for Miracast, meaning you’ll need to use a third-party app to achieve the same result. The best third-party app to cast an iPhone or Mac screen to a Roku is arguably AirBeamTV.

Secondly, Miracast is not a particularly reliable protocol. It’s prone to lagging, connection dropouts, failed pairings, and other issues.

Finally, screen mirroring means you need to a) leave the screen running on the casting device (which can quickly drain your battery), and b) use the casting device to control the web browser.

Using the casting device to control the browser might not be an issue if you’re watching a video. But for active browsing, it’s hard to see what benefits casting would have over simply using the main device—especially considering you’d need to look at the device’s screen to see what you’re doing.

Despite the drawbacks, however, if you absolutely need to have a full-featured web browser on your Roku device, screen mirroring is the best option.

Learn More About Using a Roku

Although support for Roku web browsers might be somewhat lacking, that doesn’t mean that Roku devices aren’t still excellent devices to have around your home.

To learn more about using a Roku, check out our articles explaining how to get Google on your Roku


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and the best free Roku channels


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to install today.



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Top web browsers 2019: Chrome swallows more share

Chrome again jumped in user share, adding the most in a single month since its 2016 heyday, when Google took advantage of a disastrous Microsoft decision to claim the top spot.

According to web analytics company Net Applications, Chrome’s July user share climbed by 2.3 percentage points to end the month at 68.6%, a record for Google’s browser. The month’s increase was the largest since August 2016, at the tail end of an eight-month tsunami that swept Microsoft from its decades-old perch.

In five of the past seven months, Chrome has held more than two-thirds of global browser share, a statement to its grip on the market. The only extant browser that has accounted for such a large portion of the world’s web activity? Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which a decade ago was as dominant as Chrome is today.

But Microsoft deliberately pulled the plug in the IE bathtub and within months watched its lead swirl down a drain. In mid-2014, the Redmond, Wash. company told Windows users that they would have to upgrade to the newest-available IE for the OS running their PCs. The order scratched a year of support from IE7, four years from IE8 and IE9, and seven years from IE10. (At the time, IE8 was the most popular version of the browser.) Only IE11 survived with support intact.

But if Microsoft expected an uptake of IE11, it was sorely disappointed. After the mandate went into effect in January 2016 — when more than half of all those running a Microsoft browser were forced to switch — a stunning decline began. In the first eight months of 2016, Microsoft’s global browser share plummeted 16 percentage points, representing a loss of about a third of its total. During the same stretch, Chrome gained 21.6 percentage points, sprinting from 32% to 54%. Computerworld has long maintained that when faced with an upgrade of one sort or another — IE8 to IE11 or IE to Chrome — millions upon millions picked the latter.

In any case, IE never recovered, and Chrome has never looked back. Instead, Google’s browser has angled to eat the world. According to its 12-month average user share change, Chrome will account for more than 70% of all browser share by the end of the year. By the end of 2020, that number will approach 75%.

Firefox feels like it’s slipping away

Firefox shed user share again in July, making for the third consecutive month of losses. Mozilla’s browser dropped half a percentage point, falling to 8.3%, a mark not far above its record low of 7.7%, which it recorded three years ago.

Although Firefox has had several three-month periods where it lost user share, the 1.9-point total decline of the latest was the largest since a 2.3-point drop between November 2017 and January 2018.

As Computerworld has pointed out before, Firefox has had a tough time the last two years. Every once in a while, the browser posts a positive number, but those gains are always erased. Over the last 15 months, for example, Firefox reached 10% or more just twice, most recently in April. But then May, June and July came and washed Firefox near the 8% bar.

Firefox’s prognosis remains dire. In the last six months, the browser gave up 1.9 percentage points of user share, a depressing amount for an application that has no fat to begin with. Computerworld‘s latest forecast puts Firefox under 8% by October and contends that the browser will flirt with a sub-7% share by July 4, 2020.

Mozilla has banked on privacy as Firefox’s edge over rivals. But it’s also recently trumpeted enterprise manageability, likely hoping for some adoption in organizations apprehensive about Chrome’s connection to Google, and the latter’s reputation as a data collector and monitor of online behavior. Something had better work for Firefox, or it could easily become a boutique browser forever stuck in the low single digits.

Good luck with that Edge thing

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s browsers — IE and Edge — were also down for July.

The combined user share of IE+Edge slipped by one-tenth of a percentage point to 13.2%. Over the past several months, Microsoft’s browsers have alternately climbed and fallen, often taking one step forward followed by two steps back. Over the past six months, for example, Microsoft has added seven-tenths of a point to its user share bank; but during the past 12 months, it was down 2.1 points.

The July downturn was on Edge’s shoulders: Microsoft’s newest browser lost two-tenths of a point, slumping to 5.8%. Only a curious increase in IE by about three-fourths that amount kept Redmond’s losses down. (At this point, how is IE collecting new users?) Amazingly, IE, with a user share of 7.4%, continued to tally more user activity than Edge.

Edge — the current Edge — accounted for just 11.9% of all Windows-based browsing activity, a significant slip from the month prior, caused by Edge going down and Windows 10 going, well, up in spades.

Neither of Microsoft’s browsers are going to set any growth records. In fact, by the IE+Edge 12-month average, they’ll continue to contract. At the end of 2019, the combined user share will have dropped to 12%; a year from now, they could account for just 11% of all share.

Microsoft has its work cut out for it in reclaiming Edge from the morgue.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ numbers, Apple’s Safari grew by a tiny tad to 3.4% and Opera Software’s eponymous browser slid a small bit to 1.4%. The only silver lining for either was Safari’s share of all macOS-powered personal computers — 37.9% — ending up setting a three-month record.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to quantify browser user activity.



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9 steps to lock down corporate browsers

Everyone in the enterprise loves the web browser when it’s delivering news, email, documentation, and sales leads. With the shift to web apps, it’s arguably the most important installed software on any corporate desktop. But the internet is filled with people who aren’t nice — sometimes even dangerous — and the same browser can also bring viruses, rootkits, and worse. Even if the browser sits on a little-used desktop in a dusty corner with no access to sensitive information, an attacker can use the seemingly unimportant machine as a stepping stone.

Keeping your users’ browsers secure is essential. The browser companies work hard to block the attackers by sealing the back doors, side doors, and cracks in between, but that isn’t always enough. Some useful features have dark sides, and enterprises can increase security dramatically by shutting down or tightly limiting access to these options.

The freedom to download arbitrary files, for instance, is essential for installing new software, but it’s also a dangerous vector for attacks. If the users in your office don’t need to add new software on their own, blocking all downloads is a harsh but simple way to stop many attacks.

Most of the job is making tough decisions about whether the people in the office (and which ones) need access to various features, both their good and bad sides. No one likes to have their freedom curtailed, but the dangers of an attack are so great that locking down the machines and shutting down options is often a prudent decision.

Here are nine important steps that IT can take to keep users’ browsers running smoothly and securely.



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