back to article Faster, more private, easier to read: My 2014 browser wishlist

The web browser ceased to be a "browser" some time ago. These days browser is really the runtime of the web. As such, web browsers and browser makers seem to spend more time these days optimizing their runtimes for developers. Every time you turn around there's a new JavaScript compiler, support for a still-not-actually-a- …

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  1. Schultz
    Flame

    "Universal sync tools"

    I'd just be happy if Opera would give me back the sync tools they used to have in the good old times.

    1. Cliff

      Re: "Universal sync tools"

      Chrome seems to do sync, between my android and desktop at least. On phone it's under bookmarks, uppydowny arrows, and it has a list of the tabs open on Chrome on my desktop.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: "Universal sync tools"

        To tell you the truth, I absolutely hate browsers on different devices automatically syncing up. I have different browsing habits at work than I do at home, and can't stand it when my tablet or phone decides it wants to open the dozen or so tabs that I last used at work, especially when some of them are behind login pages, and thus will fail to load.

        I mean, I would actually like to go back to the days when I opened the browser, it actually went to my home page, and stayed there until I went somewhere else. Anything I'm interested in, I'll bookmark, and open when I want.

        One thing that worries me is that syncing across browsers also means that something is linking the different devices up without my involvement. Mozilla/Firefox must be doing some serious profiling to work out that my Linux desktop at work is somehow linked to my personal phone, but it does.

        It's scary when I look up a route in Google Maps, and then have Navigation on my phone pick it up. Convenient, maybe, but I would prefer to have the control over that level of integration myself.

        I know that if I dig through the settings enough, and regularly clear the cookies, I can probably get what I want, but the defaults currently do not suite me. Maybe there should be some privacy profile that gets filled in the first time you use a particular browser.

        It's probably a generational thing. I don't want my life plastered across the Internet, because I grew up expecting a degree of anonymity in life, whereas more recent generations appear to not value that at all, and often court the whole world to know where they are and what they are doing.

        Ugh!

        1. Jim 59

          Re: "Universal sync tools"

          Agreed. Personally I have no interest in shared tabs. Or even saving tabs across sessions, except the 4 I have permanently pinned.

      2. Blackbird74

        Re: "Universal sync tools"

        Well, apart from the Opera sync which is a small percent of the market, Xmarks (free) already syncs bookmarks and open tabs across FF, IE, Chrome/Iron, Safari:

        http://download.xmarks.com/download/all

        Also includes possibility for different profiles with standard ones for Home, Work and mobile.

        (For mobile, it works with the FF mobile browser, but not Android browser).

        1. GrantB

          Re: "Universal sync tools"

          'Also includes possibility for different profiles with standard ones for Home, Work and mobile'.

          This is such an obvious one, that Google in particular don't seem to get. Not that Firefox, Windows/IE or Apple are any better.

          Google try and force one profile for Gmail, Google+ and Chrome, presumably to target one person with adverts. Even though Google+ has 'circles' they don't seem to be integrated into anything else.

          In actual fact, at home/Home profile, I am going to be more interesting in gaming and stories like the one on the Sinclair QL. Might watch a Youtube video or something 'NSFW'. At work, I view a lot of internal web servers not reachable externally; no point having those links in my home profile, nor cache the history.

          Same thing goes for things like Google+; I don't think Google knows what they want from hit, but while Google Hangouts actually works pretty well for online meetings, the integration as a business tool is pretty awful. Logging into a daily meeting on Hangouts, and get stopped by a Google+ prompt asking me if I want to spam all my old school friends? If I am inviting some random colleagues into a one -off remote hangout meeting, really don't want to add them and all their details into G+.. and so it goes

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: "Universal sync tools"

      Opera isn't a browser company anymore, they are an advertising company, that for various reasons produces a browser.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    WTF?

    See icon

    You are not honestly saying Firefox's privacy controls are the same as Chrome's, that Firefox's URL bar which defaults to a history/bookmark search is the same as Chrome's URL bar which defaults to a Google search, or that Firefox does anything similar to Chrome in terms of badgering you to sign in to Google and then uploading whatever local browsing data can get its hands on and joining it to your Google account.

    Secondly Firefox Sync does sync tabs. It also syncs bookmarks but in its current version I'd rather not sync bookmarks with Android devices as it can get a little too confused.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    Block by default

    Blocking outgoing data by default could be argued. Blocking all scripts on a website by default couldn't. Modern websites are not static HTML+CSS with a bit of JS thrown in for sparkle. JS is an integral part of a modern website!

    If you make your browser safe than JS can't hurt it.

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: Block by default

      JS is an integral part of a modern website!

      *****

      Only because so many browsers allow JS by default, start turning off JS by default in browsers and you'll see more and more websites return to the good old days where content was provided as simply as possible and not requiring local resources to transform that content into something usable because if they didn't then they would lose page viewers.

      1. JP19

        Re: Block by default

        "Only because so many browsers allow JS by default"

        I remember complimenting Amazon years and years ago for providing a web site which wasn't riddled with javascript.

        Didn't last.

    2. DN4

      Re: Block by default

      > JS is an integral part of a modern website!

      Sounds like a statement from spokesman for the idiots creating sites that just render as a blank page without JS. And of course if JS is enabled it just renders a page that could be easily done in plain HTML...

      Yes, JS is useful. But IMO many sites would become more pleasant to use with less JS, not more. And for some, such as Google Search, disabling JS is actually the only way how to use them sanely...

      1. Robert Grant

        Re: Block by default

        It's not how the page looks that Javascript is really good for, although it can make awesome stuff, it's that it can make a website feel (and be) very responsive.

        To see the difference, log into Outlook Web Access with and without Javascript enabled; two different sites: one terrible, one very responsive. Well, still terrible, but you know what I mean.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Block by default

        Don't get me wrong, all these parallax-ey, hipster offerings that take forever to load should go and die in a fire. Replacing your flash site with a monolithic js object is retarded, but javascript at it's base is incredibly important.

        When I'm on a comparison site, I don't want to apply a filter and wait for the page to reload - clicking on a button and having the excluded objects go into hiding is much faster and friendlier from a UX position. It's why they were developed.

        I was involved in a company that provided competitive data bundled up with sales, reporting and graphing tools. People fell over themselves when the graphing tools with javascript sliders (and the rest) appeared in their portals. Saved them hours compiling competitive intelligence reports for the high-ups. Whether they did anything useful with that saved time or just played Solitaire I have no idea. But it has it's place, even if it's just a couple of bits in a site that is otherwise built using nice, semantic HTML.

        The fact people misuse a tool doesn't mean you should go blocking it entirely. People misuse email for spam. That doesn't mean we all uninstall our email clients and do without (though sometimes I think we should!).

    3. Wibble
      Gimp

      Re: Block by default

      Some JS is desirable, however the extreme cruft of a typical "modern" website is just excess and bloat.

      Wouldn't it be nice to block certain types of pointless add-in JS such as UI style fiddlers (I know what a <select> looks like, I don't need you to style it and certainly not in 100KB), horrid scrolling galleries which suck CPU (and battery), and pointless animations.

      It's astounding to think that the move to 5MB home pages is considered OK by some idiot designers. Oh, and before you add the "it's not that big when cached", you still have to download the bloat in order to cache it.

    4. CommanderGalaxian
      Headmaster

      Re: Block by default

      >>If you make your browser safe than JS can't hurt it.

      >>

      But surely people shouldn't have to worrying about making their browsers safe??? Surely the damn things should be safe out of the box?

    5. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Pirate

      Re: Block by default

      Some versions of Internet Explorer will by default every web site including http://www.microsoft.com/, until it is explicitly enabled, which improves security.

      My wish list:

      - the browser should be 100 % guaranteed bug-free

      - the browser should be fast and use little memory

      - no caching - a proxy server does that

      - no plug-ins, no Java, no Active X, no skins, no sound, no moving images, no tabs, no scripting, no cookies

      - the ability to print, as well as view, HTML pages

      Nice to have:

      - an advertising blocker

      - an FTP client and/or WebDAV client that supports uploads

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Block by default

      Very few sites do anything which cannot be done in a reasonable fashion without client-side scripting. Even "rich UI" and highly asynchronous sites could, in most cases, provide nearly all of their functionality with straight synchronous HTTP requests and static HTML.

      Graceful degradation ought to be a mandatory design requirement for nearly all web development teams. I'm teaching it to my students in my web-authoring course. It's not difficult. Requiring scripting is nearly always due to laziness and a weakness for useless adornment.

      It also makes it easier to provide an accessible version of the site to disabled users. But hey, who cares about them when we can have parallax scrolling effects, eh?

  4. Aoyagi Aichou

    Different needs

    Instead of lightning speed, I would very much prefer more first party features, kinda (exactly) like Opera 11 (and 12 to lesser degree) did it.

    1. Grifter

      Well then, good news!

      A new project has started up aimed at preserving the good stuff about opera: http://otter-browser.org -- if you know any code you can contribute to it as well!

      1. Aoyagi Aichou

        Re: Well then, good news!

        Why, this is excellent news, thank you for sharing. Although I'm useless for coding and I'm not sure so few people could succeed without some real community involvement and influx of future users.

        Modern technology trends have taught me that nice things generally don't turn out well :(

    2. Lamont Cranston
      Unhappy

      Re: Different needs

      Remember when we could read an article on browser features and just add "you should try Opera" to the comments?

      Such a shame that our contribution has been reduced to "remember when Opera was still good?".

  5. Immenseness
    Coat

    My personal gripe

    Is related to the rendering of pages in time. Web site designers, eye candy is not the reason I visit your site. Please stop it now. Yes, it is kew-ul to have little bits of image floating about all over the page, and I understand that you are trying to make it eye catching by having constant movement, but when I visit a site and I want to click on something, I find it really frustrating that the thing I want to click on is rendered first (rightly) but then I waste another 2 seconds of my life chasing the sodding thing round the screen with the mouse trying to click on it as the rest of the overbloated page renders and shimmies to allow other, (and to me) sometimes artistic, but mainly irrelevant seasick-making bloody carousels to load. It is equally irritating trying to read an article while the page is still adjusting itself and the text is moving about.

    So I'd like the browser to make an effort to do some pre rendering analysis and try and get things roughly in position before displaying anything to me. Personally, I'd rather a second delay then a page that stays as it is initially rendered, rather than having things shoved on screen as they arrive and jiggled about to make room. (yes, I know how it works, this is a comment just on the user experience)

    Also agree 100% with the article re using a tiny bit of screen estate for the thing of interest and huge tracts of empty space either side. (the huge tracts of land should of course always be centre stage and maximised! :-) )

    I know, mine is the one with grumpy old sod on the back!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: My personal gripe

      I hate that bouncy, bouncy site-loading thing so much. It's even worse on a tablet than on a desktop. And of course even worse worse on a phone...

      Site writers need to re-establish some sanity as well. I know that we all have super-fast fibre to the house 100Mb/s broadband nowadays, but some of these sites are getting bloody enormous! Oh no, hang on a minute, it's the other thing isn't it. We don't all have super-mega-fast-broadband.

      Also, many more people are now online from mobile connections. Oh, but that's OK. We've all got 4G now, at 20Mb/s and doubling in speed every year! Erm, oh, hang on a minute... Is that right? What's that GPRS sign nexto to my one bar of signal mean again?

      At least on a desktop tabbed browsing means that I can open pages in a tab, and carry on doing what I was looking at on the original page. Then pop over to the tab once it's stopped bouncing around like a psychadelic jelly on a trampoline. But sadly this doesn't work on the lower resources of mobilei devices, where you usually have to click on the tab before it will render the page.

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: My personal gripe

      Yes! What he said:

      ... I find it really frustrating that the thing I want to click on is rendered first (rightly) but then I waste another 2 seconds of my life chasing the sodding thing round the screen with the mouse trying to click on it ...

      I find it SO frustrating -- especially on my phone -- that I tap the bookmark for the home page of some site I want to visit and while the page is still loading I see a link I want to tap ... I poke at it with my finger and IT MOVES AWAY and I end up inadvertently clicking the wrong link entirely, so I have to hit 'Back' and start all over again.

      Head beating wall icon required.

    3. Ottman001

      Re: My personal gripe

      What you're complaining about here is caused by bad practice. Missing height and width attributes from image tags has been considered bad practise since images were first introduced to the browser. Browsers resize unsized image tags the moment the first packet of an image arrives. While this causes multiple redraws, imagine waiting for all images to download before any were rendered. It would be an even less friendly experience.

      There is an answer coming. HTTP 2.0 will enable the transfer of multiple files at once. If image downloads are multiplexed, the header for a series of images will arrive at once, cutting the number of full document reflows required. But no benefits will be had until both browser and server support it. It would be far better for everyone if height and width attributes were always used. Even with HTTP 2.0, using height and width attributes will cut out at least one full reflow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My personal gripe

        "imagine waiting for all images to download before any were rendered"

        Or imagine if the images were all small enough to download quickly so you didn't have to wait an excessive time for them to load. Pages used to be simple with small enough images to be a bit clunky but basically usable over dial up. As speeds have improved, rather than losing the clunkiness, so developers have managed to use higher quality and more and more images and other assets, maintaining and in some cases increasing the clunkiness no matter how fast the connection gets. Nice going. Still, the sites are "awesome" eh?

        1. Ottman001

          Re: My personal gripe

          I agree, many sites are over dependant on graphics. But that is a different subject.

          My point was that the complaints above are the result of poor HTML and there is nothing beyond implementing HTTP 2.0 that browser vendors can do about it. The blame for this sort of problem rests entirely with web developers who fail to adhere to a widely known and long understood best practice. A practise that not only provides better experiences when images are slow to download, but also when a request simply times out. And that is something that can happen no matter how small the image is.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My personal gripe

            I take your point about the bad practice. I wonder though if action still couldn't be taken at the browser, after fair warning, to assume a certain default size for images where the developr has been too lazy to specify it, which can't subsequently be overridden, so the image iss caled to fit in the default size. If sites started rendering crappily, it would focus people's attention into specifying image sizes correctly. Or are there instances when you cannot legitimately specify a size? It would obviosuly need to be universally adopted and we all know how that would work out!

            1. Ottman001

              Re: My personal gripe

              Any default size for unsized images would break a significant chunk of older content. That is a line that browser vendors refuse to cross. Also, if the problem is with some other type of content it would be ignored. Say the problem is that a JavaScript script forces a reflow by inserting a large chunk of content into the page after the user has had a chance to start reading. That would be an alternative example of the same kind of bad practice.

              I have never come across a scenario that prevented the sizes being given. I'm sure if I said it never happens, someone would point out otherwise.

              Ultimately, it boils down to this: If the clues to the final document layout are given, the browser will do a better job. If they aren't, browsers already do the best they can unless you think they should wait (maybe minutes on a slow connection) for everything to download before rendering.

  6. Chris T Almighty

    People in glass houses

    Referencing CNN as a site which displays it's content in a tiny strip down the screen is a bit cheeky, when the Reg does exactly the same.

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: People in glass houses

      If you want readable a reg site, use m.reg.co.uk instead. Only ads are at the top. Text reflows properly. Bliss.

      1. Al fazed

        Re: People in glass houses

        Sorry but Google on my machine doesn't know whre to find m.reg.co.uk, suggesting I might be looking for Marks and Spencers, sod it I might as well buy some socks.

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: People in glass houses

          Yes fair enough, I got the address wrong. http://m.theregister.co.uk/

          Just replace the 'www' with 'm'

  7. RonWheeler

    More tools for blocking junk

    As an end user I find an ever increasing need to remove stuff web developers are putting in. Endless tweaking of Adblock, Ghostery et al. to remove ads, social media slide in bars, EU cookie directive acknowledgements, newsletter sign-up popups, endless share/like widgets.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: More tools for blocking junk

      Better tools, no!?

      For example, being able to call up an over-lay for a given page which facilitates discovery of the origins of elements visible on the page (whether already loaded or blocked by the likes of NoScript, Ghostery, or RequestPolicy), would open the door to much-more-rapid white-listing and black-listing with these, and similar, installed and active.

      Further along, a means to analyse a specific page (incorporating cached information about various ad-slinging domains, CDNs, beacons, trackers, etc.) to display, in an adjacent tab or a pop-up, a reasonably accurate, commented, concise-and-clinical 'country profile'--one showing the relationships between the various sources of objects on the page. The purpose of all of that would be to help expose the web of (typically commercial) interests at play on the page, informing white-listing and black-listing by users.

      Anything that gives the user more information and--importantly--facilitates their control over what displays, or even what is fetched, would be a good thing.

      For giggles, I'd like an extension that groans longer and/or louder during page loads the heavier is the current page and/or the further afield it is from 'well-written'.

  8. Novex

    Site Selective Image (and Video) Blocking

    Especially for mobile devices but useful for desktop too, I'd like to see site selective image loading. That way I can block all sites from downloading images (and video) by default, then enable such on a site-by-site basis (a bit like NoScript's way of working with JavaScript).

    1. d3rrial

      Re: Site Selective Image (and Video) Blocking

      You can do that in Chrome. Unfortunately these site limits sync across all devices you are using.

  9. jubtastic1

    Safari

    Syncs across iCloud, I can load tabs from my phone, desktop and laptop onto my iPad here in the freezing garden.

    What I'd like to see: built in jquery style functionality so we're not loading the same libraries for every bloody site, and some sort of universal roadmap for javascript, someone steering that boat.

  10. Al fazed
    Unhappy

    What a load of developer old tosh

    To hear you lot talk one would think that the Internet is only ever surfed by developers and the like. From and end user point of view the whole raft of browsers appear as a huge bag a shit software and developer wank juice which is getting bigger and more drippy and stinky every day, with many of my regular users saying, "fuck this, the interface has changed again ! If it happens one more time, I am out of here and off to get a real life".

    Think I am joking ? Just shows how out of touch technophiles are with the common people. It used to be that the user experience was the most important thing. However, it now appears that developers new toys are attempting to push the levels of human capabilities to the point where we are all expected to be none thinking robots with access to the fucking source code when we open a browser.

    Can't remember who it was exactly that did these experiments, but I once read that in some behavioural and pyschological condidtioning tests carried out on rats, the experimenters finally succeeded in sending the all of rats completely barmy, through changing the rats operating environment and the conditioning signals for rewards and punishment that the rats received.

    WAKE UP !

    End users are more like rats than browser developers, honest ! Their brains aren't that interested in playing with new widgets and discovering what that new icon is for and where the old ones have got to.

    I work for a charity which provides access to PCs, the internet and training in the use of software for disadvantaged people (which currently makes up about 10% of the population), so people can apply for jobs, housing benefit, send eMails, surf the web and the like. Training people has become much harder, mainly because the interface the person saw last week is not the same one they are faced with today. Hell on earth, it is hard enough getting volunteers in the first place, but now I have volunteers talking of resigning because they cannot keep up with this pace of change and are constantly frustrated by these seemingly senseless changes to their operating environment.

    At the end of the day, many of the folks that I know personally and others that I work with are actually really pissed off and getting totally fed up with this browser developers little lark. They are not on their own. I myself have many more reasons today for going back to a paper based life that doesn't know and doesn't want to know anything about the fucking Internet and all the crap that it brings into daily life.

    My BSc in Information Systems appears ever more to have been a complete waste of money and time as the precepts that I read about, with computers and the internet making life more inclusive for disadvantaged folks has been completely swept away in favour of making them into more like a sea of expensive novelties for the thick rich twats to play with.

    Am I on my own here ? I refer to this browser interface malarky as "the shifting sands of Iwo Jima" and wonder who will be left standing when the browser wars finally come to an end.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: What a load of old tosh I am about to type

      FTFY

      1. Al fazed
        Happy

        Re: What a load of old tosh I am about to type

        Trust an anonymous coward to perpetuate the bleeding confusion by using an anagram with a double meaning ! LOL :-)~

    2. drexciya
      Thumb Up

      Re: What a load of developer old tosh

      Totally agree here. I'm supporting my mother, who has only recently started using a PC. She acknowledged that you cannot go without one any more, so we try to support her as best as we can. This really changes the way you look at this. Whereas we, as experienced users, can relatively easily find our way, there's a lot of stuff which is simply illogical, or even stupid, and trying to look at it from an inexperienced person's point of view is something more people should do.

      1. Velv Silver badge

        Re: What a load of developer old tosh

        Fully agree on the parental support issue. As an aside and not maybe directly at the browser makers but the site makers...

        Adverts SUCK! OK, so I know we live in a world of advertising and they pay to keep the website free. But as an industry you need to make it clearer and cleaner which elements are part of your important site content and which bits are advertising (and trust me, as a relatively intelligent IT literate person it isn't always obvious, so what chance of the general population got).

        1. Michael Thibault
          Pint

          Re: What a load of developer old tosh

          >OK, so I know we live in a world of advertising and they pay to keep the website free.

          Dubious assertion—unfortunately the basis for widely-held belief. Anyone with an income stream that depends on eyeballs and, thereafter, traffic of any kind is bound by common sense to have a web presence. That's just a necessary cost of doing business in a competitive environment. A website is a business expense, in other words, and that fact has to be set against the wider picture of running the business or running it into the ground by not taking cognizance of the environment. Any revenue from advertisements on such pages may serve to defray the costs, real and inferred, of creating and maintaining the site, but the site isn't up because advertising steps in and makes it possible (the site would have to be up in any case); the advertising-a separate business, you should note-justifies itself by slipping a little something to the website owner to keep the intellectual legerdemain invisible.

          AdBlock: it's almost illegal.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: What a load of developer old tosh

            The Register wouln't be here without advertising. They might do the odd sponsored story or competition, but basically they're advertising funded. As is much of the press.

            Google now make a bit of cash on the side from Android and their online office stuff, but they're still 90% advertsiing funded. That's search, maps, mail etc.

            Many websites have adverts as extra gravy, this is true. But many others have no other income stream (or nearly none).

    3. kmac499

      Re: What a load of developer old tosh

      Yup; as I was reading down through the posts I was continually thinking.. "Keep the interface simple, small and consistent then start playing with the latest acronym'd extra feature"

      I don't want lots of toolbars (definite euphimism alert) and the ability to place toolbars horizontally or at least add a shortcut icon to the menu line popping up the appropriate tool bar

      I do want simple navigation, back button always available by default.

      I do want the maximum proportion of screen real estate to be devoted to what I'm reading especially on mobile devices.

      Oh and It would be really nice to tile pages in a browser just like any other multidocument editor\reader.

    4. Not That Andrew

      Re: What a load of developer old tosh

      Yeah, It's kinda sad when IE is the only browser you can rely on not to change the interface every 5 minutes.

      Although I'd rather have a highly customisable interface with a sane default for those who aren't interested in customising.

      And while the UI devs have recognised that most users won't customise the UI, they cant decide what a sane default is and won't provide any level of customisability any more.

      Or they decide to copy Chrome, IMHO one of the worst UI's I've encountered.

      1. Al fazed
        Thumb Up

        Re: What a load of developer old tosh

        Best IT laugh I've had for ages. Kinda makes IT all worth while some how :-}

    5. Getriebe

      Re: What a load of developer old tosh

      Agreed

      Working with RNIB on computer use amoingst the partially sighted - all these fripperies are nothing but a barrier.

  11. monkeyfish

    Opera Mini

    Opera Mini* on android does most of this. Privacy by virtue of going via opera's servers (although you do have to trust opera, obviously). Text reflows into a readable column. Images get downsized. Flash, java etc don't work. Of course that last one breaks quite a few sites, so it can't be your only browser, and it will load the mobile versions by default too, which might annoy some people. But it does the job for me.

    *I did try the newer Opera (as opposed to Opera Mini), but found it slower and less responsive on my 512MB of RAM droid. YMMV.

  12. Mark Solaris

    Ah, the irony - reader mode

    I regularly use the Print icon here on The Reg to lose all the rubbish stuffed in around the articles. It makes for a much better reading experience. It'd be truly lovely if we could turn it on by default.

  13. Matthew 3

    I've been amused that IE 11 removes the 'MSIE' token from the user agent string. This is to ensure that the old CSS hacks and workarounds required on some sites - to support IE6, 7 and 8 - aren't inadvertently sent to IE11 (now that they are, belatedly, no longer needed). A 'like Gecko' tag has also been added for further consistency with other browser types.

    It's a long overdue change but has the amusing side-effect of making an Exchange server misidentify the browser and load the crappier Outlook Web App interface. A server-side update is needed to fix this.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      What a shock - a poorly-written server-side app is bitten by user-agent sniffing, a practice that everyone sensible agreed was bad many years ago. (People were recommending against it at least as early as the late '90s.)

      Any program that treats the user-agent string as anything more than an opaque token for logging is inherently broken.

  14. Not That Andrew

    What is the obsession with speed?

    I would rather have a secure, customisable browser that does what I want, that a browser that does the latest javascript benchmark 0.01 ms faster. Browsers should be more like Opera 12 or older versions of Firefox and less like the uncustomisable Chrome clones with their Bink/WebKit monoculture that are infesting the web.

  15. Wcool

    Privacy

    What I would also like out of the box, besides Ghostery, Noscript and Do not track, is a plugin than randomly changes a small property /feature of your browser to make it look like a different browser is at the same IP address. This to avoid identification based on your browsers footprint.

    See https://panopticlick.eff.org/ for what I mean

    If the browser omits for instance a random non-essential font, even if the IP address is the same it would look as if the IP could be a proxy for many different users

    1. fpx
      Mushroom

      Re: Privacy

      The privacy issue that annoys me most is that cookie tracking happens across tabs. E.g., if you log into Facebook in one tab, then suddenly all other tabs get to see that, and you get tracked across all sessions. This is why I close my browser between most sessions, with the "delete all cookies at browser exit" option enabled. I like to keep my many personalities separate.

      Second, most browsers these days insist on sending everything you type into the address bar to Google. So for no reason at all, typing theregister.co.uk becomes a Google search, which is tracked by everyone.

      Another source of frustration are moving images. The old Opera had an option to disable animated images. "Modern" browsers do not. You only have the option to tolerate everything to blink at you or to disable all images.

      And why is there no option to disable post-load scripts? Many web sites think it vogue to run a piece of JavaScript that phones home every second, so that they can track how long you take to read the page. Which among other things makes the address bar blink hectically at you as it switches between "loading" and "done".

      Of course browsers also like to phone home as much as they can. They must absolutely check for a new release every minute or so, or a new plug-in (even if disabled), and whether any URL that you are visiting is blacklisted by someone. I very much expect that this treasure trove of personal data is mined by many.

      The state of mobile browsers is even worse, they don't even offer the minimum of configurability that you enjoy with desktop browsers like Opera or Firefox.

      I would be happy to pay for a superior browser. I used to be a happy customer of the full Opera. But browser vendors don't want my money any more, they insist that I pay in personal data instead. I'm sure they know why.

  16. Stumpy Pepys

    Column width

    You're forgetting one issue with body text on a web page — column width.

    My typographically inclined colleagues recommend a maximum of 60 characters or 12 words per column. Anything wider actually slows down the reader. Obviously the web designer shouldn't be applying fixed font sizes and these values will differ between devices, but very wide columns of text isn't something I'm looking for.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Column width

      Agreed - what would be useful is something that could columnise body text changing a 15-inch wide block of text into four three-inch wide columns, like this: http://mdfs.net/Docs/Web/Usability/ColTest.htm

  17. Anon5000

    Maxthon

    Maxthon is a great browser for android. Fast and lightweight compared to the usual suspects.

    They also have a Mac, iPhone and windows version. The Windows version is based on Chromium and worked pretty well if you didn't run too many plugins. It has a sync option which sends bookmarks and pages between all your devices that run Maxthon and also has a download to cloud option.

    Had the option to use these for some time yet never do. It's a privacy vs convenience thing, prefer not sending all my favourite sites and data to a company to use in any way they want.

  18. Velv Silver badge

    ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT

    IE has for a long time had GPO integration. Chrome now has some, and there's a third party add-on to do it in Firefox. But realistically none of the browsers have good Enterprise Management capabilities.

    Browsers are no longer just for accessing the Internet - many client/server business applications are going down the browser access route and that means the browser becomes even more critical on the desktop. And you don't really want users having the access to install any old shit into your business critical "application" and breaking it (or worse, leaking data).

    It's also becoming necessary to have more than one browser on every client since not all applications are changing at the same rate and they're not backward compatible, so it would be nice if there was an industry standard set of controls on browsers. e.g. if I lock the OS to a certain proxy, browsers should allow me to lock that once in the OS and not require me to lock it in every browser.

    95% of clients are Windows, but the other OSs should be considering proper Enterprise Management if they want to be taken seriously as business tools.

  19. scub

    browser issues

    My house is full of big tellies, theres one in every room and behind each one is an atom based machine which essentially is used to turn the tv`s into smart tv`s - kind of..

    Browsers are really slow - especially netflix . chrome seems to be the fastest, but still painfull. the machines are only capable of running 3846Mips, so what gives?

    What can i kill to speed things along? Java you say?

    Bit annoying as my smart phone seems to breeze along with no issues, Maybe somebody is trying to kill off XP - I dunno ( I know what your thinking - and no - it sux cheese through a grannies gusset - seriously- i hate them both, this one has it installed and I cant wait for it to break so I can re-install XP, Chuffin,Feekin Wank!)

  20. Roland6 Silver badge

    Built-in or Add-in security

    "To browser makers I say this: it's a cop-out to leave something as fundamental as privacy to third parties."

    Disagree, yes there needs to be some built in functionality, but more importantly a browser needs to support third-party security add-ins. Only a third-party Add-in will allow my security rules to be applied to all browsers I may have installed across my various systems, because the add-in developer is (generally) focused on making their add-in better and more useful.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Preferred caching

    Yes yes yes yes! Why is this not standard? Teletext televisions managed to do it 30 years ago, why do web browsers not do it? I'm going to be sat here for 30+ seconds reading THIS page, why doesn't the browser use that time to fetch the *next* page, instead of adding it to the time before I can see the next page.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Preferred caching

      "why doesn't the browser use that time to fetch the *next* page"

      Because you might be on a pay-per-byte connection and if it issues a request for the wrong next page to download just before you click then you'll be poorer AND slower. (Historical note: I believe Firefox tried this some years ago. Is it still in, or was it forced out of the code at gun-point by irate users?)

      Other than that, "preferred caching" sounded to me just like "caching. but with a non-brain-dead discard algorithm". If the author really wants the most frequented sites to be cached and the cache is using an MRU algorithm, then that is exactly what will happen, no? (Well, at least assuming that the pages are marked as cacheable by your friendly neighbourhood web developer. But like the gripe against sites that devote too little screen estate to the actual article, there's not a lot you can do if the web site explicitly tells the browser to waste time and space. Any browser that failed to waste would be slated in the technical press as "non-compliant with web standards".)

      (Maybe it is new web developers we need, not new browsers. But I see that a web developer has pointed the finger at advertisers and marketeers a few posts below me, so I am editing this reply to bite my tongue. Anyway, whoever's fault it is, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpits.)

    2. KayKay
      Unhappy

      Re: Preferred caching

      What is the next page???

      How can it know which of the many links on this page you will want to click next?

  22. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    A key factor for getting web apps to perform like desktop and native apps is to store them persistently so they are desktop and/or native apps.

    Degobbledegooked it for you.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not always the developers fault...

    As a developer myself, I feel the need to point out that many design decisions are not made by the developers themselves, but over zealous marketing departments constantly trying to justify their wage by 'improving the customer experience'. I could count on one hand the number of times I have been given free reign over the UX of any customer facing content without some junior marketing bod giving me their superior opinion.

    Sure, there are some devs out their who think that their technical skill is measured by how much their site resembles an online Christmas tree, but most design disasters out there wouldn't be nearly as dire if (skilled) developers were given greater input into what actually works and what doesn't.

    As for adverts being more clearly defined - it will never happen until the web moves to another method of sustaining itself. Advertisers know people hate ads, but pay out big bucks and will naturally dictate to publishers how their ads should appear. The ad agencies don't care if you as a user actually wants to buy Colgate Toothpaste/Crunchy Nut Cornflakes/Vagisil Extra et all - it's all about the click through rates, and any method they can trick you into clicking one of their adverts is fair game.

    AC, because being able to pay the rent trumps by disdain for marketers...

  24. DougS Silver badge

    Memory bloat

    That's what I'd like to see fixed. Firefox uses about 40MB per tab for me. Google Chrome about the same.

    I can't figure out how these browsers can use so many resources for a page that contains only a few MB at most.

    It is ridiculous that on a 8GB machine I sometimes need to quit and restart Firefox because I'm running out! Even worse that doing so causes my free memory to go from a few hundred MB to several GB!

    1. KayKay
      Meh

      Re: Memory bloat

      Right now I have Pale Moon (FF variant) with 140 tabs open, running at 920 MB which averages to around 60 MB a tab. More than 100 of those tabs are work related from a site with no ads, just simple pages of data, all in text. Half of them have no more than 15 lines of text on them and 4 or 5 links.

      You don't need to totally kill Firefox to get the memory back. Just minimise each window (you need to open and re-minimise any that already are) and it will dump easily half the memory. You can also type in about:memory and click a button to free up memory it's not really using. At the point I'm at it will only give back about 100MB but if you do it sooner, ie around the 1/2 GB mark, it will give back more. A lot of the "weight" is from tab data it is holding to let you go back in tab history, this is what you get rid of when you restart it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My requirements are simple

    1. I don't want any changes to the user interface.

    2. I'd like some RAM back please.

    1. GrantB

      Re: My requirements are simple

      1. Yes, Chrome UI is pretty much good enough

      2. Yes - I have only 3GB on this POS work computer, and Chrome or FF, a typical workload of dozens of tabs open call it to spin the (slow) lappy drive.

      3 + Stable would be good. Desktop browsers are good enough, but Chrome on my Nexus 7 is very crash happy.

  26. -tim

    Font sizes

    As my eyes get tired, I want a larger font. The safari command + works great for that for most sites but you can tell the ones that are still stuck at point sizes for widths when they should be use em sizes.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Font sizes

      Generally speaking, when specifying CSS length values, the px unit is the worst choice, followed by the "ruler" units (pt, in, cm, etc). For fonts, the em and ex units do have the value of being relative to the font size of the parent element, and ultimately to the font size of the body; but the best bet in most cases is to use percentages or the relative-size tokens (eg "larger"), so that your fonts and layouts scale from the user agent's base font size.

      But yes, far too many sites specify fonts to please the site's author, on the site's author's machine, and fuck everyone else. And too many try to get clever with it, Clagnut-style, which is even worse; it complicates and obscures an already-abominable practice.

  27. batfastad

    This...

    http://motherfuckingwebsite.com

  28. Nasty Nick

    Don't just blame the JS, blame the website owners

    Who let those hordes of third party scripts into their website. It used to be that "!trustworthy" websites nearly always only served code from their own domain(s). Now the corporate world and his dog lets almost any old

    advertising reseller or wotnot into their web space, and the users are basically expected to trust all of them, no matter how unfamiliar they are.

    Even the banks do this now. While you can expect to trust "mybank.co.uk", why should you trust all those third party advertising / cookie tracking scripts that link to yet other third party domains with unknown security/data policies.

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