Opinions sought on Microsoft's new "JavaScript browser" and Windows 10 in general

Like many people, I raised an eyebrow when I heard that Microsoft was killing off Internet Explorer in favor of what was then being touted as Project Spartan. And, like many people, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Microsoft Edge (as the project later became) was actually a half-decent browser. Aside from the fact that it was both lightweight and fast, for me one of the more interesting aspects of Edge was its excellent ES6 compatibility. At last it seemed that Microsoft was doing something right in the browser space.

So, it was with some interest and indeed confusion, that last week I read that Microsoft had released an open-source browser, built using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Was this going to be a competitor to Edge? Was this intended to address the fact that Edge only ran on Windows devices? Would it be yet another browser to support? And most importantly, since when could you create a browser using just HTML, JavaScript, and CSS??

So many questions. The fact that Microsoft were calling their new creation “JavaScript browser”, just made me want to find out more.

http://dab1nmslvvntp.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/1441272143microsoft-javascript-browser.jpg

Some quick research showed that, in keeping with the new Microsoft, the source code for this project is available on GitHub. The project’s README is very informative and states that this new browser is a proof-of-concept app, designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the Windows 10 platform. It is built around the HTML WebView control and uses primarily JavaScript to “light up the user interface”.

It goes on to detail how they’re taking advantage of the new ECMAScript 2015 support in Chakra, the JavaScript engine behind Microsoft Edge and the WebView control, to remove a lot of the scaffolding and boilerplate code which makes a project like this possible. Hats off, Microsoft!

But what do you think? Are there any Windows 10 users reading this? Have you taken this browser for your spin? And what are your impressions of the platform as a whole?

I must admit, I’m an ardent Linux user, but it’s things like this that make me want to give Windows another try.

This editorial appears in this week’s issue of the SitePoint JavaScript Newsletter.

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Reminds me of Breach, which mysteriously seems to have disappeared all of a sudden: https://github.com/breach

Remind me of “WebOs” from Palm cellphones: the “Palm Pré”… one of the first opensource multiapp great cellphone ever…

I have to say that I am impressed with Microsoft’s new transparent approach. It’s taken long enough for them to come round and the result is excellent.

Yes people will continue to knock Microsoft because they think its the right thing to do - and there are always plenty of cocky, self proclaimed experts out there. But the bottom line is, from a professional standpoint, this is a major step forward - and a breath of fresh air.

I was speaking to a couple of developers - from one of Microsoft’s competitors - and when they saw Edge and the new approach Microsoft is taking, they were “gob smacked and concerned” (expletives have been omitted). I think that sums it up better than anything!

So credit where it’s due - nice one Microsoft.

Never heard of that, but seems like an interesting concept. I like the idea that (according to the GitHub page) “every behavior is programmatic”. Would probably be worth checking out if the project didn’t seem to have been abandoned.

Never tried this. It was meant to have been a bit ahead of its time though, wasn’t it?

It seems that Microsoft have become a different company under Satya Nadella. Amongst other things, they have open sourced whole swathes of their technology and opened up Windows for developers. So indeed, credit where it’s due!

Saying that, I still don’t feel able to give Windows 10 a go because of all of the privacy invasive settings it comes bundled with. Do you have any experience with the platform? Would this be a concern for you?

Well, it’s an interesting point you raise. 100% privacy is a thing of the past if you plan to invest and use todays technology as it was intended. Location services, Cortana, Siri and a multitude of other programmes are all reliant on ‘getting to know you’ and I have to confess, I don’t mind that if it makes my life easier.

Where I would have an issue is if sensitive information were collated and passed to third parties - bank access details, passwords, family photos, client correspondence etc. From what I can see Microsoft are not into that and I certainly believe them more than the small businesses churning out the latest ‘must have’ app.

One of my colleagues uses so many apps it makes my head spin, they know where he is 24/7, what temperature his home is, his shopping list is automatically generated once a week, apps know what’s in the fridge (really?!) and he swears by his Amazon App which knows his sexual habits and bowel movements better than him… perhaps that’s a little too much information, but it makes a point doesn’t it…?

What Microsoft collects (and you can turn off anyway) is a drop in the ocean compared to everything else we broadcast near and far… There are times in life that you just have to take a leap of faith and I am confident that Windows 10 is one such product.

We are slowly upgrading all out PCs here and feedback from the staff is genuinely amazing. They love it. My machine is still on Windows 7 and I am eagerly awaiting my upgrade; go for it Pullo :wink:

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I’ve been using that browser for testing things for a bout a year. Was going to link to the site above, but the site seems to have died. The repo is still there, but without the site, my hopes are fading. :frowning:

Yeah they where ahead but when Hewlett Packard (HP) buy it, they made a big mistake to sell the last powerful Palm Pre at super low cost… they then stop all production but keep for themselves their wonderful webOs… what I still think is again powerful today… compare to Android and iPhones Os… (web tech based Os !)

I really cannot understand people who feel comfortable sharing this much info with their apps. Maybe I’m paranoid, but this just fills me with dread. Here’s an example of why:

You surf the net under the watchful gaze of Web tracking networks. They record the Web sites you visit and your clickstream. They compile that into an anonymous profile, which they then market to various interested parties. Some are advertisers who want to deliver targeted ads to you. Others are insurance companies, credit card processors, or background investigators who want to run business intelligence software on this data and score it, the same way they run BI software on your financial history to create your credit score.

They discover that people who visit the same kinds of sites you like to visit tend to be bad credit risks, file more health insurance claims, or are involved in more employee lawsuits than the average bear. So you are denied that new credit card, your health insurance premiums shoot through the roof, or that job you coveted goes to the second most qualified person who applied. You of course, will be aware of none of this, because it happens entirely in the background. And if you share your computer/browser with someone else, their anonymous data could get mixed in with yours.

Source: Just how bad is online tracking?

I know that in this case it’s talking about online tracking and we’re talking about apps / operating systems, but the same principal applies to anyone or anything collecting data on you.

But, you know what? You convinced me! My partner’s Windows laptop has been nagging us to upgrade to Windows 10. I think I’ll take the plunge next week.

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Not yet because it seems like I need to set up an MS account for that and tie my Windows installation with the account, which I’m hesitant to do. I believe the fears of the spying system are blown out of proportion but I don’t feel I need an online account to run applications…

Egde impressed me with speed - in my opinion this is indeed the fastest browser in the world, the rest is far behind. However, this browser is so featureless that I think MS should not offer it to people yet - it’s only a good technical preview of what the browser will be if it gets finished - I mean, finished for real! But MS is known for putting out pre-alpha versions of their products and marketing them as final (like Win8) :smile:

As to Windows 10 as a whole I upgraded a month ago from 7 and from a web developer’s perspective it is a definite improvement. It’s not a deal breaker but offers some nice improvements and fixes a few bugs in Windows 7 (some of them were fixed in Win 8 but that interface just put me off).

The improvements and fixes that I found beneficial - a quite different list to what you usually read in articles:

  1. Fixed UDF file system handling. Windows 7 had a nasty and probably undocumented bug that a drive formatted in UDF sometimes didn’t accept writes - when editing an existing file the contents might not be saved even though it appeared to. Fixed in Windows 8 and higher. Why is that important to me? Because I keep my local web sites, other files and some programs on a USB stick, which I take with myself to work and have all my stuff with me - and I work off the stick directly. USB sticks are quite slow (especially small file access) but they are fastest when formatted in UDF - really much faster than exFat or NTFS. Now I don’t feel any slow downs when using my stick in UDF.

  2. I really welcome the addition of tiles and grouping in the start menu. Now I can separately group programs on my local machine and programs on my USB stick in the start menu. In Windows 7 I could pin them to the taskbar but programs from the USB stick often lost their icons after system boot - no such problems with Windows 10 tiles.

  3. In PHP microtime() finally has decent precision!

  4. The improvements with command line copy & paste are very nice and come in handy for those who use cmd.exe.

  5. In Windows 7 when I had Photoshop Elements open then the ESC key didn’t work in other programs - very annoying when coding in Netbeans. Not a problem in Windows 10!

  6. Analysing drive defragmentation is much faster than in Windows 7.

  7. Tabs in SeaMonkey browser’s default theme look much better and slimmer.

  8. After mounting a drive in TrueCrypt it’s label updates instantly in Explorer without having to open a new Explorer window.

  9. The virtual desktops are useful and also the ability to easily distribute 2 windows on the whole screen.

As usual, there were a few unwelcome changes but they are nothing really important. I had to turn off Windows Defender because it made my system slower. Some system service had to be disabled to free up port 80 for Apache localhost. But overall a positive change for me.

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Damn, my W10 upgrade froze! According to the error code its likely to be because I have several SSDs and multiple optical drives in the machine. Saying that, I just restarted and it was back to Windows 7 in no time… so business as usual. I am going to download the ISO - apparently that should get round the ‘bug’! I did read that the W10 auto download this week will be a revised and fixes it anyway. Typical!

What are they trying to accomplish? Just a ‘hackable’ browser? It’s cool and all. I just don’t really get the point I don’t think.

Do you mean that you’ve got to download it from the app store and for that you need to register with an MS account?

Maybe that’s why It’s Official, Nobody Uses Microsoft’s Latest Edge Browser. I just spent most of yesterday getting Windows 10 set up and the only thing I used it to do was download Chrome. Thinking about it, I dunno why really. It was more the fact that the whole operating system seemed quite new and foreign and Chrome was a friendly face.

Oh wow, I didn’t know they had this. I will give that a try for sure.

Apart from that I haven’t done much more with the OS than install a couple of programs. My first impression is that the interface is more polished, and that a few (more) things have been hidden away from the user. For example it took me a while to work out how to have icons (like My Computer) show up on the desktop and it was quite annoying that “Windows Update” has been removed from the Control Panel. It also struck me that more and more things seem to be heading to the cloud (e.g. One Drive appears in the task bar by default, ready and waiting for you to connect and start uploading your data).

One very, very pleasant thing that I discovered was that if you upgrade from Windows 10, you have the opportunity to do a fresh install, which wipes out all of the bloatware which came with the computer originally. That in itself is a HUGE win. I tried last year to buy a laptop without a pre-installed OS and was shocked to find out how expensive this is.

How did that work out for you? If you’re running Windows 7, you should be able to use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool and install Windows from within Windows. That’s what I did and it worked flawlessly.

I understood it to be an advert for how easy it is to build Universal Windows Apps.This seems to be a bit of a sticking point for them:

Ultimately, Microsoft says it expects a billion active Windows 10 users, across the full spectrum of devices, within the next two or three years. Software developers wouldn’t be able to resist building apps for such a huge market. For comparison, the Apple has sold about 700 million iPhones over an eight-year span.

There’s just one big problem: Microsoft hasn’t given developers any real reason to build Universal Windows Apps.

At least, not yet. And if they can’t nail this, Windows will continue to fade into irrelevance.

Source: There’s one glaring flaw in Microsoft’s Windows 10 strategy

Saying that, I haven’t tried it out yet, but will endeavor to do so in the coming days.

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Yes, I haven’t found any other way.

Ah, I was thinking you could somehow clone the repo and run it that way. However, on closer inspection, how you should do this doesn’t seem to be immediately obvious.

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