Tag Archives | Google Chrome

Flock: Goodbye Mozilla, Hello Chrome?

Flock LogoTechCrunch’s Michael Arrington (who’s back from his month-long blogging hiatus) is reporting that one of my favorite products is going to undergo a radical change. Flock, the browser with built-in support for Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites, will supposedly dump Mozilla, the platform that’s most famously used by Firefox, and build a new version of Flock that uses Google’s Chrome as its engine.

Arrington says that the Flock folks feel like they don’t get enough love from the Mozilla team, and while I don’t know if his scoop is the real deal and have no insider info on the back story here, I do recall once asking the Mozilla team a question that involved Flock, and feeling the tension in the room ratchet up a notch. It’s hard, of course, for Mozilla to both keep busy spreading Firefox and also help a Firefox rival like Flock be successful. But Flock might face the same challenges if it ends up working with Google. We’ll see.

A Chrome-based Flock could potentially have some upsides–the current version, like Firefox, is slow to load (on my Mac, anyhow) and sometimes feels piggy when it comes to resources. Chrome’s emphasis on efficiency could result in a meaner, leaner Flock. (At the moment, Chrome is Windows-only while Flock also speaks OS X and Linux, but Chrome’s support for those two OSes will likely be ready long before a Chromed Flock is complete.)

But if Flock does go the Chrome route, it has one major implication for current users: Right now, one nice thing about Flock is that it runs nearly all Firefox extensions just fine. There are surely Flock fans who, if forced to choose between sticking with Flock and keeping their favorite extensions, would keep the extensions and switch to Firefox. Given that Flock remains a cult favorite rather than the mass-market hit its creators would like it to be, it would be a shame if the lack of extensions bummed out too many of its existing users.

I’ve asked Flock if it has any comment on all this, and will report back…

Update! Here’s a statement from Flock CEO Shawn Hardin:

Flock hasn’t ceased development efforts on the Mozilla platform.  Our upcoming release of Flock 2.1 is built on the Mozilla platform. Having said that, the browser space is heating up, and we’ve seen a variety of new technologies emerge over the last several months that are appealing.

We always have and will continue to make architectural decisions that balance what’s best for our users and what’s best for Flock as a business.  This has resulted in a healthy, growing user base and business for Flock, and we expect this to continue in 2009. In fact, with almost seven million downloads almost entirely from word of mouth, Flock enjoys a highly satisfied user base (consistently over 92% customer satisfaction, with very strong net promoter scores, and an average of four hours of usage per day).

With a continuing focus on user-centered browser innovation, our team is in active research and development on a range of exciting new enhancements to Flock.   It is still far too early to comment on anything specific, but we are very excited about this design phase.

That’s not an acknowledgment that Flock is switching platforms, but it also falls very far short of the commitment to Mozilla you’d think Flock might express if TechCrunch’s report was hooey. It’s not startling that there’s going to be a Flock 2.1, or that it’ll be built on the existing Mozilla underpinnings–if Flock is indeed moving to Chrome, it’s going to take awhile, so an interim Mozilla-based update makes sense.


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One Windows. Multiple Browsers. Bundled. I Like It!

win7firefox1Once again, those wacky Europeans are making life difficult for Microsoft. A site called EurActive is reporting that Microsoft’s ongoing antitrust tussle with the European Commission will result in the company being forced to help European Windows users opt for a browser that isn’t Internet Explorer. The details are yet to be worked out–the OS might include some sort of mechanism for choosing among multiple browsers, or Microsoft might be forced to work with PC manufacturers to install alternative browsers on new systems. Microsoft is apparently concerned enough that it has a secret plan to delay Windows 7’s release if necessary, reports our own Dave Worthington.

When you’re forced to do something you don’t particularly want to do, there are two ways to go about it: grudgingly or whole-heartedly. Previous legally-mandated editions of Windows such as the Korea-only Windows XP K and KN are the result of the first approach, and I’m not sure if they made anyone other than the government officials who required them happy.

But what if Microsoft poured its collective energy, intellect, and resources into making the best possible multiple-browser Windows–and then made it the standard version of the OS worldwide?

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Browsers: More Important Than Ever. Also More Boring.

Netscape Logo[Note: This item first appeared in Technologizer’s T-Week newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.]

This piece was inspired by spending the past few days using the RC1 version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8. But it’s really a sequel-of-sorts to a blog post I wrote for PC World back in March of last year, when the first beta of IE 8 appeared. That one was called Internet Explorer 8 and the Boring Era of Web Browsers, and the gist was that even though browsers mattered more than ever in this era where we spend so much of our lives on the Web, Microsoft and other browser companies seemed to be focusing on under-the-hood improvements (like better support for Web standards) and were short on strikingly new features that let folks use their browsers in new ways. (IE 8’s Accelerators and Web Slices, for instance, are its most significant new tools–and they’re just not that big a whoop.)

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Technologizer’s Most of 2008

Technologizer's Most of 2008As I write this, there are slightly fewer than 22.5 hours left to go before 2008 is history. I promise I’ll stop looking back at the year momentarily–I already summed up its twelve biggest stories–but I’m in the mood to document a few more noteworthy items that made the year what it was. I’m calling this Technologizer’s Most of 2008, and it begins after the jump…

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