Category Archives: Software

What’s New in Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Parallels. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you’ve recently made the switch from a PC to a Mac, are considering making the switch, or if you took the leap a long time ago and have been searching for the best way to run those Windows-only programs without having to leave OS X to do so, you’ve probably heard about Parallels. Did you know that Parallels Desktop 7 is coming out? With more features than ever, now is a great time to consider Parallels as a great alternative to running Boot Camp and losing access to your OS X apps while working on Windows programs. With Parallels, you can do both, and the new features in Parallels 7 make it even easier than before.

OS X Lion Integration

You may already be a Parallels user. If so, you’re probably wondering why you should upgrade when Parallels 6 is already capable of handling quite a bit. Well, if you’ve recently upgraded to OS X Lion, you’ll be happy to know that Parallels Desktop 7 is built to integrate seamlessly with Lion’s new features. Full screen, Mission Control, Launchpad, and more are made available to Parallels 7 users that take advantage of Coherence mode. In addition, app developers can run another instance of OS X Lion inside of OS X Lion for testing without risking any damage to your primary files and/or applications.

While Parallels Desktop 7 has been tweaked to integrate into Mac OS X Lion, it will run just fine on Leopard and Snow Leopard, as well.

Speed Improvements

One of the biggest time spenders when loading Windows in a virtual machine is the time it takes to boot. Parallels Desktop 7 has improved boot time by up to 60 percent compared to Parallels Desktop 6. This faster boot time is very noticeable, especially when you’re in a hurry to get a specific task done.

In addition, some tweaks have been made to how Parallels Desktop 7 handles 3D and graphics. This means that programs that work with 3D environments, like games, could see a performance increase of up to 45% above the already fast speeds of Parallels Desktop 6. Part of the reason for this increase is based in the 64-bit Cocoa code that makes up the entire user interface.

Usability

The overall look and feel of Parallels has been modified to enhance the user experience and make everything more intuitive. Many of these changes can be seen in how Parallels Desktop 7 takes advantage of the latest features of OS X Lion. The goal of Parallels (especially in Coherence mode) is to make the entire experience as seamless as possible. By allowing your Windows programs to run side-by-side with OS X applications, Parallels enables you to enjoy both operating systems inside of one consistent experience.

The Parallels Wizard makes the creation and management of new virtual machines easier than previous version. I say this because having the ability to buy and download Windows 7 within the wizard and install everything in one single process instead of having to run to the store means you can be up and running faster and easier than before. Like previous Parallels versions, you can also create virtual machines with Ubuntu, Chromium OS, and other Linux operating systems without any technical know-how required.

Shared Resources

In addition to sharing your hard drive, CPU, and RAM, Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac enables you to access your iSight and FaceTime HD webcams across both operating systems. In addition, you can still access the virtual machine’s start menu, documents folder, and hard drive within OS X. Copy and paste is synced as well, allowing you to take a snippet of information from Mac OS X to Windows without having to go through any additional hassle between the two.

Mobile

This is probably my favorite feature of Parallels Desktop 7. Using the Parallels Mobile app, I can control my virtual machines and the entire Mac from an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. For less than the price of a burger and fries, I can essentially run Windows (and Ubuntu, Chromium OS, etc.) on my mobile device. I can even play back audio and music files remotely and watch Flash video on my iPhone or iPad. With Parallels Mobile and Parallels Desktop 7, you can even copy and paste text directly from your mobile device to your virtual machine from anywhere.

Parallels Desktop 7 will be available on September 6, 2011 and is expected to have a retail price of $79.99 with an upgrade price for existing users of $49.99.

All right, I’ve explained why I’m excited about the new version of Parallels, but there’s more. The folks over at Parallels would like to offer you a chance to get a MacBook Air, absolutely free. All you need to do is watch for any tweets that go out on my primary Twitter account (@ChrisPirillo) between now and September 6, 2011. Each day, I’ll be sending a different tweet out about Parallels Desktop 7 and when you retweet them, you’ll be entered to win. Good luck!

How to Play PC Games on Your Phone

For many StarCraft fans, finding the will to leave the house and stop playing can be difficult. Thankfully, Splashtop Inc. has created a product that allows you to play DirectX 9, 10, and 11 games where other remote desktop clients often lack any support for 3D. In short, they’ve created an app that allows you to play PC games on your phone.

Splashtop Remote Desktop is free for desktops and about $2 for mobile devices making it one of the most affordable solutions for handheld remote desktops in its class.

Compatibility across platforms is impressive, allowing users of iOS, Android (2.2 Froyo and above), and even WebOS to use the program through dedicated apps available in their respective markets. Windows and Mac users are both able to use the server software to stream their desktops, as long as they meet the necessary system requirements. For Windows, all you need to stream is XP, Vista, or 7 and at least 1 GB of RAM and a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU. Mac uses will need the at least the same hardware with OS X 10.6+.

Latency is low but still present, so this won’t be a good platform for playing games that require fast movements and responses. First-person shooters will likely frustrate you as a player, as the latency between your device and the computer is coupled with the system’s latency to the game server. Games that do play relatively well include RTS titles like StarCraft II and various Command and Conquer titles where queueing up forces and planning strategies doesn’t require optimized response times.

This solution isn’t perfect. If you plan on using this method to play competitively online, the results may prove disappointing. At its heart, Splashtop Remote Desktop is made to allow you to access your desktop using your mobile phone wherever you may be. While it has the functionality needed to stream games and video, you won’t be advancing to the finals in any StarCraft leagues with this as your interface.

Is Software too Expensive?

VaryGeek over at LockerGnome.net asked, “Do you think software should be cheaper?” This is a very good question. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.

The debate over the cost of software has raged on in the tech community for years. The division between two camps of thought on software pricing runs deep.

One side of the debate will make the point that software development is extremely expensive, and therefor the price per unit must remain high in order for developers to break even – and perhaps make a profit. This makes sense as development, marketing, and support can contribute to high overhead costs which can drain capital very quickly.

Another school of thought in the great software debate comes from proponents of open source software. By handing development over to a community of skilled programmers, software designers can benefit from a larger pool of resources without a lot of overhead involved. Larger projects have found sizable audiences (Open Office, Audacity, etc) and development organizations can see profit through selling support and/or extra services to end users. In addition, this is can be a great way for newer developers to make a name for themselves through contributions to these projects.

One major downside to open source software is that it tends to be rough around the edges. The gloss and attention to user experience is often overlooked in favor of packing features in the software. Additionally, it’s hard to set a great UI on something that is constantly changing. This would require additional work on the part of the designer every time a contributor adds a visible feature.

In the middle of these two camps are the small developers that keep their prices low in order to make up profits in volume. This is a common trend among independent developers that have smaller teams and marketing budgets. Programs that most commonly fall in this category are found on mobile platforms like Android and iOS. Thanks to the addition of an easy-to-use app store on Mac OS X, cheaper software is beginning to become more widely available on the Mac platform as well.

These lower-cost programs prosper from accessibility. When Steam expanded their direct download game store to include independent developers, less-expensive titles took off like a bullet. By making software easier to acquire, they were able to lower overall prices and still maintain a profit through the increased volume.

It’s taking some time for larger game development houses to catch on to this trend – and as long as they continue to break previous records with each release of Halo and Call of Duty, you shouldn’t expect to see the prices drop any time soon.

The same goes for high-priced business software that costs hundreds per license. Thankfully, free web apps have entered the business software market and gained enough market share to convince them to consider alternative pricing options. Only time will tell if this is a sign of lower software prices to come, or a phase that will pass.

So, is software too expensive? Leave a comment and let me know your opinion on the matter.

How to Control Your Windows Desktop With Kinect

The Minority Report featured some incredible theoretical technologies, some of which have continued to interest geeks for years. One of these technologies was a system in which you are able to interact with the user-interface with a few hand gestures Now, imagine if you were able to control Windows 7 in much the same way. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile project to check out?

LockerGnome community member Kevin Connolly has managed to recreate this using the Kinect SDK in a project he calls the KinectNUI (Natural User Interface). Currently, the project works with a single Kinect and any modern Windows PC.

With a swipe of your hand, you are able to switch between active windows, zoom in and out, more. While zoomed in, the Kinect will follow your movements as you walk around the room and allow you to scroll vertically using your left hand.

Future plans for the project include a pie menu to allow you to control your system in greater detail. This feature is expected to work in a similar manor to the pie menu featured in the Sims.

If you don’t like the computer responding to your every gesture, you can turn gestures on and off with a single vertical movement of your arms.

Without a doubt, this project (and others like it) have demonstrated the potential for relatively inexpensive devices like the Kinect to change the way we think about interacting with our computers.

What started as a device that took the principals of motion-controlled gaming to a new level by removing the need of a physical handheld controller is now beginning to bring to question whether or not this kind of device could actually replace the keyboard and mouse and change the landscape of computing as we know it today. While the physical technology may not be there just yet, it’s pretty interesting to think of what’s ahead.

More information about this project can be found on Kevin’s website as well as on his YouTube channel, Tsilb.

What to Expect in Windows 8

In what can be called a dramatic shift in how Windows handles its user experience, Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will handle two different kinds of applications. The operating system is said to have the ability to run standard programs currently made for Windows 7 as well as Web apps built on HTML5 and JavaScript. The user interface itself has also been modified to be more touch-oriented.

With a swipe of your finger, you may be able to launch Windows programs and navigate through the vast majority of the new Web-based apps. To many, this could be taken as a step in the direction of a future Windows potentially being a cloud-based OS such as Chrome or webOS.

Influenced heavily by its Windows Phone 7 operating system, Windows 8 is expected to feature the same touch-optimized live tile system that will operate in much the same way as it does on smartphones. Microsoft hinted that this interface will likely replace the Start menu that has been a hallmark of the iconic operating system since Windows 95.

Microsoft has also promised that Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript will have access to the full power of the PC, rather that being limited by running within a separate application or process.

At this point, Windows 8 is expected to run on Intel and ARM chips. This information is in addition to a promise that the new OS will not increase the system requirements to run Windows 7. This makes Windows 8 the second OS in a row that hasn’t increased the system requirements since Windows Vista, which was considered a disappointment due in part to its heavy hardware demands.

Is this a step in the right direction? Windows 8 is a dramatic leap towards a more Web-based user experience, and the dramatic changes to the Start menu and move towards a more touch-friendly environment may be a sign of things to come. Could Windows actually compete in the tablet space once more with its operating system built to work with touch from the ground up?

What to Look Forward to on OS X Lion

Mac OS X Lion is set to be released next month and you will not be able to get your hands on a copy. That’s right, Lion is going to be released through the Mac App Store so you can purchase and install it without leaving your desk. Here’s a brief rundown of what to look forward to on OS X Lion:

Launchpad
Borrowing a few tips from Apple’s iOS platform, Launchpad displays your installed applications in much the same way as the mobile platform. Apps can be grouped together in folders, easily arranged, and deleted as simply as they are in iOS. When you install a new app, it appears in Launchpad automatically.

Resume
There are few things more aggravating than having to save everything, open programs, reload files, and set everything back up after an update-initiated reboot. Resume saves all of this information for you, so when the machine boots back up, everything is where you left it.

Auto Save and Versions
This is one feature that, if it works properly, could make the Mac a frontrunner in the business and productivity market. Auto Save works by saving documents you’re working on every five minutes, in addition to during quick pauses. In theory, this should work in much the same way Google Docs saves your progress, however this one is built in to the OS, so it will be interesting to see how well this integrates.

Versions works hand-in-hand with Auto Save. It functions a like a trimmed-down version of Time Machine, except its functionality is focused on documents rather than your entire system. Every time Auto Save makes a save, it stores just the changes and not entire copies of the file, reducing storage space required and helping Versions keep track of progress.

Mission Control
By bringing your dashboard, full-screen apps, desktop spaces, and open programs all together in a single place, Mission Control appears to be a great solution for users with limited screen real estate and a large amount of windows to keep track of. Dashboard appears in the upper-left corner of Mission Control with full-screen apps running along to top to its right. Your desktop and windows are set up in an Exposé view on the lower portion below.

Full-Screen Apps
OS X Lion introduces systemwide support for full-screen apps, giving you more screen space to work with. Coupled with improvements to multi-touch gestures, switching between full-screen apps can be done with a single swipe of the trackpad. This feature is especially useful for smaller notebook (MacBook, MacBook Air, etc.) users. Almost the entire lineup of Apple’s apps have been updated to work well in the full-screen environment.

Multi-Touch Gestures
Multi-touch gestures have been integrated in Lion to take advantage of the new features and make them easier to use. While this may mean very little to desktop users that are still using a keyboard and mouse to interact with their Mac, owners of multi-touch capable notebooks should be able to take advantage of the update.

AirDrop
This is one feature that likely won’t be for everyone. If you’re within 30 feet of other Lion users, you can transfer files directly to them without having to be connected via a wireless network or physical cable. AirDrop could come in handy in instances where you’re at a coffee shop or another public place with a friend and you want to send them a photo album or file without having to go through the hassle of finding a wireless network to do so. AirDrop will likely be a late bloomer as it depends on each user having Lion and a more current Wi-Fi card for it to work. Where it might take off down the line is in the business and educational sector, where an office or classroom has capabilities across the board. Turning in assignments could be handled more efficiently using AirDrop in these cases.

Other Features
Other features include: picture-in-picture zoom, a renewed Mail app, International braille tables, a high-resolution cursor, new sharing options in Quicktime, and numerous other smaller updates.

OS X Lion is certainly a bigger update than Snow Leopard was to Leopard, but it doesn’t have any absolutely killer features that make it a must-buy for most standard users. Lion offers considerably more for their line of notebooks in terms of usefulness than it does for Mac Mini, iMac, and the Mac Pro. Still, if Apple delivers on everything Lion promises, it will certainly make OS X more tempting to the business and educational sector.

Are Mobile Operating Systems the Future for Desktop Computing?

With the incredible strides being made in the mobile world, one can’t help but to ask whether or not these trimmed-down operating systems may be heading in a direction that could replace what we currently know as a desktop OS. For example, the debate over whether or not Android would make a good netbook OS has been going on since the first iteration of the mobile platform, and what we’ve seen of Apple’s OS X Lion has given us clear signs that they are borrowing greatly from the iOS user interface. With this in mind, are mobile operating systems the future for desktop computing?

It could be argued that one day, possibly in the not so distant future, mobile devices may actually be the form factor of choice for our everyday computing. You could come home and plug your phone in to a dock that links to a larger screen, keyboard, and other input devices. In the case of the Motorola Atrix 4G, your phone can already be plugged in to a laptop body to create a more complete desktop experience. Current limitations for this application include a lacking ability to install full desktop programs. This limitation aside, you are able to run a full instance of Firefox which allows you to handle pretty much everything you would expect through the browser on a larger Windows or OS X system.

There is a possibility, as different platforms continue to merge and become increasingly interconnected, that we may see a more hybrid form of operating system come together. An OS that can be installed completely and seamlessly between different form factors may offer a solution that is best for both worlds. The problem that faced the tablet industry in years prior stemmed from attempting to put a bulky OS with programs intended for a specific platform on a device that really wasn’t supported by the developers. With a hybrid OS, designed specifically with this functionality in mind, you may have a solution that is both more attractive to developers and OEMs.

Why You Need Online Backup Services

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of IDrive. All opinions are 100% mine.

The hard drive in your computer is in one of two states right now. It’s either going to fail or it already failed. Hard drives are inherently fragile things with no built in redundancy. If your drive is in the already failed state, this article won’t help you much and you’d be better off reading about a drive recovery solution. On the other hand, if your drive is currently functioning, it’s in that going to fail state and you should pay close attention.

Backing up computer files is one of the hardest things to get computer users of all levels to commit to. There’s this general assumption that everything will be ok and just work. When catastrophe happens and a drive fails, after the initial wave of panic is over people seem genuinely shocked their computer let them down. The solution, of course, is to make a backup before your drive fails, so you never have to worry about losing your data.

If you currently backup your data locally, by copying files to a second drive or putting them on DVD, you’re ahead of most people. A local backup isn’t good enough to guarantee data protection. That second drive could just as easily fail and I’ve had DVDs that corrupt and require special recovery software to become readable again. There’s also the risk your house could burn down or a UFO could send out an EMP blast and wipe your magnetic drives, so generally speaking storing your backup offsite, by using an online backup solution is more reliable.

There are a number of online backup solutions designed to automate backing up your files and folders. Each of them offers slightly different service, but all have the general theme of taking data from your computer and storing it safely online. IDrive is one of those solutions. One of the things that sets IDrive apart from many of the alternatives is they’ve built their own infrastructure for backing up and warehousing your data. IDrive is optimized for the kind of performance necessary for online backup, which means they do things like automatically de-duplicate the data that’s backed up, so you aren’t wasting space backing up the exact same file twice. IDrive uses its own sync process to monitor and backup your data, picking up where it left off even if your Internet connection is temporarily unavailable.

Isn’t backing up to the cloud risky? Your data is stored in an encrypted format when it is backed up to IDrive, which prevents a hacker intrusion from easily accessing your information. If you require a greater level of security, you can use your own private encryption key to further reduce possible exposure to data intrusion. The likelihood of an enterprise level server infrastructure like IDrive going down is far less than the possibility that your own hard drive or local backup will fail. Most home users and small businesses simply can’t afford the infrastructure and engineering talent available to a company like IDrive, which is why purchasing their service makes more sense. And while I suppose there’s no guarantee IDrive won’t have an outage at some point, according to company data, there has never been an incident of customer data loss.

IDrive Online BackupThe first time you install IDrive, it scans the drives on your computer to determine how much data you have and how much you can backup. If there’s enough space, IDrive will automatically backup files in all the common folders on your computer, like your Documents, Pictures, and Videos. While IDrive will restrict the amount of space you can use, depending on which account you signed up for, they don’t limit the size of the files you back up. If you have a 100GB video file and your IDrive account has available space, IDrive will back it up. By default, your IDrive backup is scheduled for a time you won’t be likely to use your computer, so the data transfer doesn’t get in the way of your normal computing. After that first backup, IDrive monitors changes in your files and makes incremental backups of any file that changes.

Some files can be harder to backup than others, like the .pst file used by Outlook, or the data file for your accounting software. If the application is open, these files get locked by the application. IDrive can still back them up, so you won’t need to worry about losing important email or financial data.

One thing that helps define a great product is the quality of support you get when you need. Apple’s Genius Bar comes to mind as an example of great support, but Apple only provides you support for things you purchased. While IDrive doesn’t have any stores you can walk into, it does provide full support for its free version. If you want advice or assistance in configuring your backup the first time, or decide you need help optimizing your backup down the road, you can get a live person on the phone no matter which version of IDrive you are using.

IDrive isn’t just for those times when you have a catastrophic hard drive failure. We’ve all made mistakes where the wrong file gets deleted or the best parts of an old version get overwritten. IDrive is great for these situations because you can go back and retrieve the file you deleted or go back a few versions and recover the bits you eliminated. IDrive can’t see into the past forever, but it does go back up to 30 versions, which should be enough for almost any scenario.

So what happens when your hard drive fails? If your hard drive fails, you can recover the data to a new drive or to an entirely different computer. You just need to install the IDrive client after you replace the failed drive or sign in from a new computer and download your backed up files. Since IDrive offers maximum redundancy for up to one terabyte of data and unlimited accounts with slightly less redundancy, there may be instances when you need your data back faster than you can download it. If you have hundreds of gigabytes backed up, you can use the IDrive Portable Rapid Serve, which overnights you a hard drive with up to 320GB of your data for a fee. Depending on the speed of your home or business Internet connection, Rapid Serve could be a faster option than waiting for data to download.

iPhone integration – IDrive Lite is a free contact backup for mobile devices with Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. You can backup your photos from an iPhone or iPad with IDrive Photo Backup for free too. But one of the best features of IDrive integration for iOS is the ability to browse the files backed up from your Mac or Windows computer and either preview the file or share them with a contact.

You can get started with a free IDrive account by downloading the free software and trying out IDrive Basic, which offers all the same features as IDrive Pro with a maximum of 5GB of files. As of this writing, if you create a new IDrive account and backup 1GB of data, you get a $10 iTunes gift card.

Would You Lease a Google Chromebook?

Google’s announcement of its Chromebook leasing plans has raised more than a few eyebrows in the tech industry. Leasing systems to educational and business institutions is nothing new, but at a price point of $20 per month for education and $28 for business for a system that offers possibly the most simple and easy to support interface designed yet, this may prove to be a difficult offer to resist. I mean, after all, would you lease a Google Chromebook?

Two versions of the Chromebook have been detailed by Google thus far. One, made by Samsung offers a 12.1″ (1280×800) 300 nit display and a mini-VGA port for an external monitor. The other, made by Acer carries an 11.6″ HD widescreen CineCrystal LED-backlit LCD and an integrated HDMI port for an external monitor. Each of these systems include pretty much the same hardware after that point. They each have dual-band wi-fi and optional 3G, 4-in-1 card readers, Intel Atom dual-core processors, full size keyboards and 2 USB 2.0 ports. The Samsung comes out ahead on promised battery life with 8.5 hours against the Acer’s 6.

Where the Chromebook has its own immediate appeal is data safety. Even if you lose the notebook entirely, your data is all stored in the cloud and you are able to reach it from any system with an internet connection and a browser. This is an eventuality that Google has been working towards for years as their list of services keeps growing in spaces previously dominated by stand-alone applications.

A close cousin to data safety is security, and the Chromebook has a few interesting solutions to possible issues of security. Each tab opened in the OS creates a virtual sandbox which keeps infected sites out of your other tabs. This is similar to the method the current Chrome and Chromium browsers use to keep program-wide crashes from occurring. Data encryption is also a factor since not all of your data (cookies, downloads, etc.) is in the cloud. Everything on the hard drive is encrypted. If all else fails, there is a hardware-backed recovery system in place that allows you to restore the machine to factory settings with the push of a button.

Updates are applied to the Chromebook as soon as it’s turned on, which may be a step in the right direction considering how quickly new threats to security and privacy hit the web. Since the OS is somewhat streamlined and lightweight, updates aren’t expected to create a significant hassle when compared to more full-featured platforms.

There are some pretty considerable downsides to the Chromebook as well. For example, stand-alone applications you may be used to on the PC or Mac will probably not work. Pretty much everything you do on the Chromebook is served up to and from the cloud, meaning that if you have any reservations about the security of the web apps you’re working with, this may not be a good choice for you. In addition, most of the features you may become accustomed to on the device will be unavailable should you be out of range of a Wi-Fi network or good 3G connectivity. Before deciding to switch to the Chromebook either on purchase or by lease, you should definitely give it a shot in a visualization environment on your current machine such as VirtualBox or Parallels first. Unless you’re willing to exist within the cloud almost entirely, then you are probably best sticking with a regular notebook or desktop with either the Chrome or Chromium browser installed.

Virtualization and remote access platforms such as Citrix can be installed and used to turn the Chromebook in to a thin client, according to Google. This means that even though you’re using the Chromebook, you may have access to non-web applications as well. Whether or not this works as effectively as it could in theory is anyone’s guess.

Is Google Chrome Better Than Firefox?

Features that existed almost exclusively on Firefox became a part of Google Chrome early on. This, coupled with an elaborate marketing campaign on the part of Google, made Google Chrome an almost instant competitor for the second spot under Internet Explorer. More recently, Firefox 4 has been released and its new UI looks surprisingly similar to Google. How does Firefox 4 compare to Google Chrome 10 in terms of user experience?

Firefox has had a major UI change in version 4. The menu bar has been condensed down to a single button, tabs have been moved to the top rather than below the search and navigation bars. On the windows version, the menu button is located on top of the tabs which may result in an accidental button press if you’re not paying attention. It’s almost undeniable that Firefox borrowed this UI concept from Google Chrome.

One area where the differences between the two browsers is more apparent is sync. In Google Chrome, synchronization of your bookmarks and settings from one system to another is accomplished by logging in to Google. That’s it, no key codes or pass phrases to remember. Further than that, synchronization is practically instantaneous between systems running Google Chrome. Firefox’s sync gives you a few extra hoops to jump through, and key codes to remember. Sometimes, you just want to sync everything up when you’re not next to the primary machine.

Google is constantly updating Chrome, and bugs are being fixed almost as quickly as they are discovered. Chrome was the first browser to receive a fix for the WebKit exploit discovered in this year’s Pwn2Own contest. In this contest, multinational teams compete to see who can hack their way through various systems and software in the least amount of time. This exploit was not used against Chrome specifically, so there’s no telling whether or not it had a high potential of actually working. To Firefox’s credit, they survived the contest where they hadn’t in years prior.

As with any constantly-evolving software, everything mentioned here can and will likely change. Firefox has made huge strides in their efforts to reinvent the platform, and it may be just a matter of time before they come up with that new feature that blows Chrome out of the water.