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Report: Internet Explorer 9 to add ActiveX filtering

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The upcoming release candidate of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 browser is said to include a new feature that will let users selectively pick which parts of Web pages can load ActiveX elements.

According to blog WinRumors, which is citing its own sources, the security-focused feature will be included inside the first release candidate for IE9, which is expected to arrive later this month. The filter will come in the form of a toggle that sits alongside the recently announced tracking protection feature–the one that blocks third-parties from tracking user behavior from site to site. Together, the two features would give users more control over what can be done by individual pieces of the page.

When asked about the arrival of the feature, Microsoft declined to comment beyond saying, “Microsoft has not released this Internet Explorer 9 code to the public and we caution consumers and businesses that downloading software (including workarounds) from a non-genuine source can pose risks to their environment.”

ActiveX has had a long history as an integral part of Internet Explorer. Since its introduction in the mid-’90s, the technology played an important part in giving site makers ways to build increasingly interactive Web applications. But at the same time, ActiveX also became a means for sites and individuals to run exploits and other malicious code through the browser. Microsoft responded by beefing up IE’s default security settings for ActiveX content, requiring user approval to run plug-ins, and implementing a blacklist to keep known malicious controls from loading. If implemented, this security feature would be another layer on top of these protective measures.

IE9 has been in beta since mid-September of last year, and has proven to be a popular download among users, with the most recently released numbers pegging downloads north of 20 million.

Originally posted at News – Microsoft

DownThemAll powers up to next version

It’s hardly the only multifeatured download enhancement add-on in Firefox’s deep add-ons catalog, but DownThemAll is one of the best. It just got better with an upgrade to version 2 that supports Firefox 4, can customize download speed limits, and sniffs out media including support for HTML5.

(Credit: DownThemAll)

While support for Firefox 4 was essential to the add-on’s continued life, the granular controls over download speeds are a welcome surprise. You can now set different maximum download speeds by individual download, by server, or as a global preference. Separately, you can also set download limits by server.

Firefox’s trackless browsing option receives support in DownThemAll 2. This means that even if you’re running in Private Browsing mode, you can run the add-on and get the increased download speeds it provides.

The media-sniffing option will discover and download audio and video embedded or linked in a Web page for you, as long as you’re looking at a site on HTTP or HTTPS. Of course, this is the case for the vast majority of users and ought not to pose a problem.

DownThemAll’s queue control has been improved as well, with new filters available to help clear the line of in-progress and completed downloads that have been set up; and DownThemAll now offers official, developer-sponsored integration with the Firefox add-on Video DownloadHelper. HTML5 support includes both < video > and < audio > tags, at least as far as they’ve been documented and integrated into the browser itself. The HTML5 standards have yet to be finalized.

Other changes of interest to the add-on include better context menu integration; a rejiggering of how the average download speed gets calculated to favor more recent downloads; and support for third-party download services such as RapidShare without having to enable third-party cookies when cookies have been disabled. Some add-on defaults have been changed, too, including making five auto-retries spaced 5 minutes apart before marking a download a failure; upping the number of concurrent downloads from four to eight, although concurrent downloads from the same server remain restricted to four; and granting read permissions to the user group for new downloads.

Another change to DownThemAll comes from a savvy fan of the add-on who found that it works much better on Windows 7 when a Microsoft bug fix has been applied to the operating system, and so the add-on publisher recommends that Windows 7 users make sure they’ve installed the fix for more stable downloading.

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