Microsoft adds option to change New Tab search provider to new Edge browser

Microsoft updated the list of features recently that it plans to introduce into the company’s new Chromium-based Edge browser in the coming months. Some of the features are planned for a March release while others for later this year.

Some of the features found their way into development builds of Microsoft Edge already; one of these is the ability to change the search provider used on the browser’s New Tab Page.

Up until now, users of the new Edge browsers could not change the search provider; this mean that Bing was used regardless of the user’s preference when it comes to search. While it is possible to change the default search provider in edge when using the address bar to search, it did not sit well with some users of the browser that the New Tab page search provider could not be changed.

This changes this month with the introduction of a new option. It is currently available in Microsoft Edge Canary but will become available in Stable versions of Microsoft Edge soon as well.

microsoft-edge chromium search provider

Here is what you need to do to change the New Tab page search provider in Microsoft Edge (Chromium):

  1. Load edge://settings/search in the Microsoft Edge address bar; this opens the Search preferences of the browser. You may also select Menu > Settings > Privacy and services > Address Bar to get there.
  2. The preference”Search on new tabs uses search box or address bar” defines which search engine is used when you run searches on the New Tab page. The two available options are “search box (bing)” or “address bar”. The first option is the default, the second uses the address bar search provider for searches in the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser.
  3. Change the “search engine used in the address bar” if you have not done so already.
  4. The change is active immediately, a restart is not required.

Tip: you may need to open “manage search engines” first to manage available search engines and add new search engines to the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser if your favorite search engine is not listed under “search engine used in the address bar” yet.

Now You: Have you tried the new Edge browser yet? Describe your experience!

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OpenSilver: Silverlight makes an open source comeback

Ten years ago, plugins were needed for a lot of things in web browsers. Today, only Flash survived in the browser and its time is running out as well. Plugins such as Flash, Silverlight, or Java were fundamental parts of the Internet but the rise of web technologies such as JavaScript caused these to be removed from web browsers by companies such as Mozilla or Google.

Adobe will end Flash development in 2020 and Microsoft revealed that it won’t support Silverlight from October 2021 anymore.

Developers and projects that use these technologies won’t be able to do so anymore when support ends for these products. While it is possible to run some older versions of browsers and the last plugin released, it is not recommended due to security concerns.

Tip: Flash gamers may check out the Flash Games preservation project to continue playing games made in Flash.

Silverlight developers and projects may have a way out however. The French organization Userware released a preview of OpenSilver today, an open source implementation of Silverlight that is based on web standards and modern web technologies such as WebAssembly.

OpenSilver is a modern, plugin-free, open-source reimplementation of Silverlight, that runs on current browsers via WebAssembly. It uses Mono for WebAssembly and Microsoft Blazor. It brings back the power of C#, XAML, and .NET to client-side Web development.

Since it is no longer provided as a plugin, it is compatible with (most) modern web browsers and should run fine in those.

One component, CSHTML5 allows developers to make web apps using C# and XAML. It comes with a tool to port existing Silverlight and WPF applications to the web by “compiling C# and XAML files to HTML and JavaScript”.

opensilver-  silverlight

Interested developers may download the preview release from the OpenSilver website. A Microsoft Account is required to download the preview to the local system. Additional information is provided on the project’s GitHub website.

About 60% of Silverlight APIs are currently supported. Userware plans to improve API support in the coming months and add support for Open RIA Services, AOT compilation and third-party libraries. Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation will speed up loading times by “at least 30 times” when it lands.

The company launched a conversion service to convert existing Silverlight applications to the modern version so that it may run on websites without plugin requirement.

Interested users may load the demo from here to check out the functionality that is currently available.

Now You: Have you used Silverlight in the past? What is your take on the resurrection?

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Vivaldi adds a clock with alarm and timer to browser

The latest snapshot of the Vivaldi web browser displays a clock in the status bar of the browser that supports alarm and timer functionality.

One of the things that I like about Vivaldi is that its developers add all kinds of useful but optional usability features to the web browser.  One of the latest feature is a clock which the developers added to the browser’s status bar.The status bar is actually one of these usability features. Most web browsers, Firefox and Chrome, dropped the status bar or never made use of it.

Vivaldi has a status bar and it displays lots of options to the user, e.g. changing zoom, disabling images, capturing the page, and more.

vivaldi browser clock

The clock is another optional feature. While it is displayed by default, it can easily be hidden from the status bar if it is not required.

We’ve added a built in clock to the status bar. This also gives you the ability to quickly set alarms, either in the form of a count down or to a specific time in the future.

Vivaldi’s team added timer and countdown functionality to the clock that you may activate when you left or right-click on the time.

A left-click displays the countdown and alarm options. Both options are self-explanatory: use countdown to have the clock count down the specified hours/minutes, and alarm to set an alarm for a specific time of the day, e.g. for meetings, lunch, or breaks.

You may assign presets to both options to re-use these with the click of the button instead of having to configure them each time you plan on using them.

vivaldi clock settings

A right-click displays options to set countdown or alarm presets right away, to change the display of the clock in the status bar including its style and label, and to hide the clock on the status bar.

Closing Words

A clock in the status bar may not be a revolutionary feature but it may be useful to some users of the browser. Those who have no use for the feature can hide it easily using the right-click context menu.

Now You: Do you find the new clock functionality useful?

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Microsoft adds Chrome themes support to new Edge browser

Users of the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge web browser which the company released in January 2020 officially will soon be able to install themes designed for Google Chrome in Microsoft’s web browser.

Microsoft’s new web browser supported the installation of Chrome extensions from the day of launch. While it needs to be enabled in the browser’s options, it is a straightforward process that unlocks Chrome’s vast extensions store and the extensions it hosts.

Users of the new browser who tried to install themes from the Chrome Web Store noticed that this was not possible at the time. The installation would throw the error “An error has occurred” when trying to do so.

microsoft edge chromium chrome themes

The process is not supported in current versions of Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft added a new option to the latest Canary build of its browser that allows users to install Chrome themes in Microsoft Edge. The feature is not enabled by default and needs to be unlocked on the experimental flags page of the browser.

If tests are successful, options to install Chrome themes will come to other Microsoft Edge channels in the near future.

microsoft edge allow chrome theme installations

Here is what you need to do currently:

  1. Make sure that Microsoft Edge Canary is up to date. You can check for updates on edge://settings/help.
  2. Load edge://flags/#edge-allow-store-extension-themes in the browser’s address bar; the page should jump straight to the “Allow installation of external store themes” flag on the page.
    • Allow installation of external store themes
      Turn this on to allow themes from external web stores to be installed in Microsoft Edge. – Mac, Windows
  3. Set the experiment to enabled using the menu on the right.
  4. Restart Microsoft Edge.

Head over to the themes section of the Chrome Web Store to test the new functionality. You will notice that themes will install fine in the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser.

chrome theme installed edge

Chrome, unlike Firefox, accepts only one custom theme installation and the same is true for the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser.

To remove a custom theme, visit edge://settings/appearance in the browser’s address bar and select “remove” next to custom theme.

Note that you may also disable the status of the experimental flag to uninstall the theme.

Closing Words

Users of the new Microsoft Edge web browser can install Chrome browser extensions and soon also Chrome themes from the official Chrome Web Store. Google does not like this at all and displays a notification to Edge users who visit the Chrome Web Store claiming that Chrome is more secure when it comes to the installation of these extensions.

Now You: Default theme or custom theme, what is your preference? (via Deskmodder, Techdows)

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SETI@Home's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence comes to an end

seti

SETI@Home will go into hibernation on March 31, 2020. The distributed computing project was launched in 1999 to analyze data provided by the radio telescope Arecibo in Puerto Rico. Later on, data from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Parkes Observatory in Australia were added.

SETI@HOME — SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence — broke down the signals into packets which it then distributed to connected computer systems. These computer systems, often operated by volunteers from around the world, would then be used to analyze the data and transfer results back to the project.

seti

The project will go into hibernation on March 31, 2020; the volunteering computing part will stop distributing work.

The project maintainers at UC Berkeley provide two reasons for the decision:

  1. The project is “at a point of diminishing returns” as it has “analyzed all the data” that is needed “for now”.
  2. Managing the distributed processing of data is a lot of work and time is required to complete the “back-end analysis of the results” that have been obtained already.

Hibernation means that the project is not disappearing from the face of the earth. The project website and forums remain open and the distributed computing resources of SETI@Home may be used by other scientific research projects to focus on areas such as “cosmology or pulsar research”. Seti@Home may start distributing work again if that happens and the project team will make an announcement if a new research project has been found.

Seti@Home has about 1.8 million users at the time of writing and an average of 148,000 machines that run the software. The software was very popular when it first launched and installed on millions of devices in the early years. The project switched the infrastructure to BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) in 2004, a move that was not liked by all users. SETI@Home is by far the most popular BOINC project.

Now You: Do you contribute your computing powers to research projects?

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