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by Razvan Serea
Basilisk is a free and Open Source XUL-based web browser created by the developers of the Pale Moon browser. It is based on the Goanna layout and rendering engine (a fork of Gecko) and builds on the Unified XUL Platform (UXP), which in turn is a fork of the Mozilla code base without Servo or Rust.
Basilisk as an application is primarily a vessel for development of the XUL platform it builds upon, and additionally a potential replacement for Firefox to retain the use of Firefox Extensions. It aims to retain useful technologies that its sibling Firefox has removed.
Requires Windows 7 or later. Windows XP or Windows Vista are not supported.
Uses Goanna as a layout and rendering engine. Goanna behaves slightly differently than Gecko in certain respects and may result in different display of web pages. e.g.: Goanna renders gradients in a more accurate color space (non-premultiplied). Builds on UXP, our XUL platform in development. As such XUL is alive and well in this browser and will not be deprecated. Has some long-standing known issues with the Mozilla code-base fixed (e.g. CVE-2009-1232). Does not use Rust or the Photon user interface. You can expect a familiar interface as-carried by Firefox between v29 and v56. Does not use Electrolysis (e10s, multi-process browsing). Does not require walled-garden extension signing. Basilisk 2020.11.25 changelog:
Aligned CSS tab-size with the specification and un-prefixed it. Updated Brotli library to 1.0.9. Updated JAR lib code. Cleaned up HPKP leftovers. Disabled the DOM filesystem API by default. Removed Phone Vibrator API. Fixed an issue where the software uninstaller would not remove the program files it should. Fixed a devtools crash related to timeline snapshots. Fixed several data race conditions. Security issues fixed: CVE-2020-26960, CVE-2020-26951, CVE-2020-26956, CVE-2020-15999 and several memory safety hazards. Unified XUL Platform Mozilla Security Patch Summary: 5 fixed, 4 defense-in-depth, 3 rejected, 19 not applicable. Download: Basilisk 2020.11.25 (32-bit) | Portable | ~50.0 MB (Open Source)
Download: Basilisk 2020.11.25 (64-bit) | Portable
View: Basilisk Website
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Microsoft Weekly: Halo 4 finally on PC, more Fluent icons, and optional updates
by Florin Bodnarescu
The last week brought Halo 4 for the first time to PC players the world over, a Fluent Design upgrade for Edge icons showed up – as well as multiple new features -, plus some security fixes for a range of Windows 10 versions. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of November 15 - 21.
Halo 4 finally on PC
After much anticipation, the final title in the Master Chief Collection, aka Halo 4, has finally arrived on PC. Bringing cross-play support and a bunch of new enhancements, the game is now live on Steam, the Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass for PC. If you’re curious as to what exactly the title has to offer, do take a peek at the review that’s currently up, in which our very own Pulasthi Ariyasinghe calls the FPS a “satisfying conclusion to the Master Chief Collection”.
Continuing with the first-party news, Sea of Thieves has received its November update, complete with a range of bug fixes, upgrades to Treasure Vault voyages, performance improvements, and much, much more. The update comes in at 6GB on Windows 10, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X, with the One S and Series S owners receiving a slightly smaller 5GB update. Steam owners are the luckiest with a measly 3.6GB required to download.
And since we mentioned it, before we get back to the game news, it’s worth interjecting with the fact that new Xbox Series S orders may arrive after the holidays. This is because, unsurprisingly, the Series S is out of stock.
Returning to first-party games, Minecraft has just gotten a new Star Wars-themed DLC, and if that’s not quite what you want to be playing this week, there’s always a bunch of Deals with Gold to browse, including ones for Code Vein, Dark Souls, Ace Combat 7, and much more.
Ending this section is a bit of gameplay from both the Xbox One X and Series X for CD Projekt RED’s upcoming open-world RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. Switching between the two consoles frequently, the video highlights interiors, exteriors, combat, and other NPC interactions.
More Fluent icons
Regardless of your opinion of the new Edge, one major change in comparison to the Legacy version is that the browser gets updated more frequently than before.
As such, everybody in the Dev and Canary channels can now start using the text comments in PDFs feature. If you haven’t gotten it yet, the Dev build is 88.0.702, in case you want to try out this capability.
There are also new features added to Edge this month, like an improved copy-paste experience, better integration with Bing rewards, new shopping features, and much more.
Staying on the subject of improvements, now when you open history, it will show a pop-up window which allows you to more easily navigate through your previously opened links. Furthermore, you’re now able to pin a history icon next to the address bar for easy access.
Microsoft was also eager to share the fact that Edge WebView2 is now available for .NET. This, for folks not aware, is the Chromium Edge equivalent of Project Spartan’s (old Edge) EdgeHTML-based WebView. Additionally, the Redmond firm also aims to stop Chromium browsers from launching with elevated privileges.
Finally, for those of you who wish the company would just stop for a second and update everything to its (for now) unified Fluent Design system, there’s good news. Chromium Edge is going to be getting a new set icons to bring the entire experience more in line with the company’s design aesthetic du jour. The first phase is currently being rolled out.
If you’ve been running Windows 10 for a while, you’ll be aware that Microsoft also releases optional updates from time to time, beyond its Patch Tuesday patches.
If you’re on 1809, or the October 2018 Update, you’ll get KB4594442, which bumps up the build number to 17763.1579 and addresses a security bug with Kerberos authentication and ticket renewal. If you’re running the Anniversary Update (1607), that same fix will come through for you as KB4594441, bumping the build number up to 14393.4048, while folks on the May 2019 Update (1903) and November 2019 Update (1909) will be getting KB4594443, with builds 18362.1199 and 18363.1199, respectively.
Finally, those on either the May 2020 Update (2004) or October 2020 Update (20H2) will receive KB4594440, with builds 19041.631 and 19042.631.
Microsoft was busy releasing even more builds however, so here’s what else you need to be on the lookout for:
May 2019 Update / November 2019 Update (1903/1909): KB4586819, builds 18362.1237 / 18363.1237 – fixes a bug that causes Edge to open in the background when the device is in tablet mode, as well as bugs with USB 3.0 hubs, Narrator, and WMR headsets running in lower resolution modes. October 2018 Update (1809) Enterprise, Education: KB4586839, build 17763.1613 – fixes the same bugs for the version above, as well as the issue which may cause the HDD to fill up in certain error situations. The known issues for all updates above remain the same ones outlined in the Patch Tuesday wave of updates.
In other news, Microsoft will not release any optional Windows 10 cumulative updates in December. This applies to preview updates (so basically A, C, and D wave updates, rather the B wave ones which come with Patch Tuesday every month). This is due to “minimal operations during the holidays and the upcoming Western new year”.
Over in the Insider Dev channel, the company unleashed build 20262 with a number of fixes, as well as 20262.1010, the of which was simply a Cumulative Update to test out the servicing pipeline.
Polls in Teams meetings have now started rolling out. New Power Apps and Dataverse are now generally available for Teams. Photoshop Beta is now available for ARM-based Windows 10 and macOS devices. WinUI 3 Preview 3 is now out, featuring ARM64 support. Dynamics 365 Project Operations has been announced, aimed at service-based businesses in India. Microsoft 365 is now available from datacenters in Brazil. The November updates for Microsoft 365 include new Teams apps, among other features. Teams personal features are now rolling out on desktop and the web. The Surface Studio 2 has gotten new firmware updates to fix audio performance and stability, with the Go 2 and Book 3 now available for purchase in India. Logging off
We cap things off with a new security chip that Microsoft intends to introduce for Windows-based devices.
In what the firm will be dubbing Pluton going forward, Microsoft has announced essentially the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip equivalent, but integrated on the SoC.
Seen in other solutions like the Xbox consoles or Azure Sphere, this is basically an intersection of software and hardware to provide the benefits of TPM chips in terms of security, but (currently) none of the drawbacks. Specifically, since TPM is separate from the CPU, perpetrators are able to target the channel between the CPU and TPM chip with their attacks.
Working with AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm on the solution – with AMD being the first to use it -, Microsoft says that the Pluton chip will work with BitLocker and System Guard, and that information can’t be removed from the chip via malware or any other way.
Integrated with Windows Update in the same way Azure Sphere Security Service integrates with IoT devices, the chip will make sure that firmware updates come directly from Microsoft.
There’s currently no word as to when we’ll be seeing the chip’s debut in PCs.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
By Abhay V
Surface Studio 2 updates now rolling out with audio performance and stability fixes
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft has released new updates to Surface Studio 2 PCs, just a few weeks after serving new firmware updates to its newer batch of devices – the Book 3, Laptop 3, Pro 7, and the Go 2. Just like for those devices, the Studio 2 updates bring fixes for audio issues and improvements to overall system stability.
As usual, these updates will be made available to devices running Windows 10 version 1903 (May 2019 Update) or newer. Considering that version 1809 (October 2019 Update) reached the end-of-support this month, most devices should be moved to version 1909 (November 2019 Update) automatically. However, if your device is still running 1809 or an older version of the OS, it is best to upgrade to a supported version.
Here is the complete list of fixes:
Windows Update History Name
Device Manager Name
Version and Update
Surface - Firmware - 532.3389.768.0
Improves system stability. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - SoftwareComponent - 11.0.6000.92
Realtek Hardware Support Application - Software components
Improves audio performance while streaming content. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - Media - 6.0.8936.1
Realtek High Definition Audio (SST) - Sound, video, and game controllers
Improves audio performance and resolves associated system bugcheck. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - Extension - 220.127.116.11
Realtek High Definition Audio (SST) Extension - no Device Manager notes
Improves integration between system services. As with all such releases, the updates will be available via Windows Update. However, they roll out gradually to all users, so it might be a while before all devices receive the bits through Windows Update. Additionally, the firm notes that there are no known issues, which is always a good thing.
Microsoft recently also updated the Surface lifecycle information document, providing timeframes on driver and firmware support for its PCs. The Surface Studio 2 is slated to be supported until October 2022, adhering to the minimum four years of support that the company promises.
Mozilla will ship Firefox 85 without Flash support
by Paul Hill
Mozilla has announced that it will remove support for Flash with the release of Firefox 85. That version of Firefox is set to rollout to users on 26 January 2021 with the Nightly arriving today and the Beta on 14 December 2020. Today’s reminder comes on the same day that Firefox 83 was released with improved SpiderMonkey performance.
It’s no secret that Mozilla has been looking to remove Flash support from its browser. Last year, we reported that Firefox 69 would come with Flash disabled by default and before that Firefox 47 set the plug-in to click-to-activate and Firefox 52 removed support for non-Flash NPAPI plug-ins.
While 26 January 2021 marks the date of the release of the first version of Firefox without Flash support, the plug-in will actually stop working on 12 January 2021 when it reaches its end-of-life.
Adobe Flash Player was first released 24 years ago in 1996 and powered games and video content until HTML5 came along about a decade ago. Since the introduction of HTML5, game developers and online videos have moved away from Flash. The two main benefits of moving to HTML5 is security and performance as not everyone kept their Flash installs up-to-date nor did it perform well on other operating systems such as Linux.
by Paul Hill
Another new feature is HTTPS-Only Mode. This is an optional feature that can be turned on in Firefox Preferences. As you can see from the name, this mode will ensure that all of your connections to websites are encrypted and secure giving you peace of mind when connected to a public network. If a website does not support HTTPS, you will be greeted by a ‘Secure Connection Not Available’ message. You do have the option to proceed to the website using only HTTP but the warning will let you know before you proceed.
Some other notable changes include pinch zoom support for Windows touch screen devices and touchpads on Mac devices, the directional arrows can be used to fast forward, rewind and adjust the volume in Picture-in-Picture mode, and AcroForm support has been added which lets you fill in, print, and save supported PDF forms.
The firm said that this release is big for WebRender as the rollout expands on Windows 7 and 8 as well as on macOS 10.12 to 10.15. Regarding Mac devices, the firm said that Firefox 83 and above will work on Apple’s new Silicon CPU using emulation under Apple’s Rosetta 2 that ships with Big Sur. Going forward, the firm will support the new processor natively.