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The Internet Technology

A Peek at AT&T's New Browser, Pogo 239

Posted by Zonk
from the another-way-to-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica takes a look at Pogo, a browser from AT&T with new features like a 3-D history and bookmark view. The browser's currently in a private beta and Ars' comments aren't all necessarily glowing — particularly in the areas where performance is concerned. 'It requires Windows XP SP2 or later or Windows Vista, and its minimum hardware are surprisingly steep: a 1.6GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and a video card with at least 256MB of VRAM. Seem like a bit much for a web browser? It is, and as we found out, these requirements posed some major challenges for us during our testing.'"
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A Peek at AT&T's New Browser, Pogo

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  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @10:56AM (#23105952)
    SBC's old browser was lousy too.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @10:59AM (#23106016) Homepage
    in fact, it sounds like it's going to be a bit of a stinker.

    Perhaps they should rename it to Pongo.

    (Sorry)
  • Invite-only Beta (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Aefix (968923)
    Anyone on the inside have any details on how this works? Sounds like a gmail-type thing to me. If so, someone hook me up!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm an AT&T employee (recently) and a search of the intranet for "Pogo" shows 0 hits... Take it for what its worth...
  • Bloat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:00AM (#23106034)
    And people complain about firefox being bloated? You should not need a dedicated graphics card to check your email.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by calebt3 (1098475)
      Don't get them thinking about a Thunderbird-based email client!
    • by Zackbass (457384)
      Why not? How do you know what's possible if you don't try it and what happens?
    • by tgatliff (311583)
      AT&T cannot even provide decent cell or phone service, and they now are deciding to build browsers??? It will be a cold day in hell before I would install that trojan... I suspect its real purpose is to collect enough financial information to automatically swap your phone service to them...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        All NSA jokes aside, my fear(as somebody who just signed a contract with ATT wireless internet/HSDPA) is that they'll try to force crap like this onto my computer. Using their mandatory, proprietary connection manager is bad enough(takes 10 minutes to install on reasonably fast, modern computer and the install sounded like a hard drive defrag!).
  • Linux (Score:5, Funny)

    by prakslash (681585) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:03AM (#23106080)
    Since it doesn't run on Linux it will never achieve widespread mainstream acceptance on the desktop.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Since it doesn't run on Linux it will never achieve widespread mainstream acceptance on the SLASHDOT.

      There, fixed that for ya! ;)

      More seriously, I didn;t actually RTFA (yawn). The summary makes it sound like a real stinker (and I have some issues with ATT I'd be modded flamebait for if I listed them). What, exactly, does it bring to a browser that we can't get with IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, or any of the other browsers? why, exactly, should we get this browser?
      • Re:Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bodrius (191265) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:43AM (#23106766) Homepage
        Usability (through better visualization)?

        History and bookmark handling are not scaling well to modern use of the web.

        They were designed for a much smaller Internet - back when Yahoo was a comprehensive catalogue of the web, and you could honestly bookmark a short list of all your favorite sites.

        Anyone who had to go through the browser history after a long week, to find 'that link that had some information but I cannot find in google again', has experienced this first hand.
        All the links look the same, all your searches get in the way, etc.

        Anyone who has had a few dozen disposable bookmarks by trying to avoid the history search also has experienced this first hand.

        Bookmarks lose their value as they accumulate, and reality is that you often cannot know the crucial link will be crucial until after the fact - after you got another piece of data. Specially for technical documentation.

        Pogo seems to be addressing two major usability problems that exist today.
        At this point, I mostly consider those to be non-existent browser features by now. Repeating an Internet search is typically more time-efficient.

        Now, I don't really think painting it all in 3D really helps - but what they seem to be trying to fix are real problems.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Wavebreak (1256876)
          Quite right, and that's exactly why the awesomebar is so awesome.
        • by njh (24312)
          Which is why you should install firefox 3. It's awesome bar none.
        • by jp10558 (748604)
          I would think doing quickfind on bookmarks + extra notes for the bookmarks would work? Works well enough for me anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    unless shdwdoc.dll has been ported to Linux

    all these "new" Windows browsers are usually just an IE activeX control embedded in a VB container
    same IE engine with all the same vunerabilities, even the bigname AV's (mcafee/symantec) use the dll for dialogs

    of course the fastest way to ruin an AV and Windows is simply delete the dll
    no AV, no anti-spyware, no security, no web browser (no telnet as that is not installed on Vista by default)

    poof all gone with a single dll
  • Fine by me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Bender (801382) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:05AM (#23106098) Homepage
    I don't mind any attempt at innovation, and I certainly welcome competition in the browser market. If someone thinks they have ideas about how to make things better, then let them have a go.
    It's pretty clear that this is intended for the home user with a nice new 2008-9 computer, who doesn't really run much else. So from that point of view, the requirements are probably fine, and at least it lets them actually use the computing power that they have. Other people have other options, nothing lost.
    Uh, and RTFA? You must be joking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sciros (986030)
      You'd be right if not for the fact that most computers don't come with the video card that this requires. RAM, CPU, sure. But the video card that's still in most computers these days can run WoW at best. If this browser needs something with 256Mb of RAM in the video card, then this is intended for, well, nobody.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:05AM (#23106104)
    I work with a guy who believes that the reason Apple succeeds is that they accelerate the graphics with hardware. This gives them the ability to do transitions like Expose on the desktop and the smooth sliding on devices like the iPhone.

    Pogo seems to be along the same lines. But where Apple's eye candy is functional, the Pogo eye candy looks like flashy for the sake of flashy. The 3D UI looks nice, but it's about as functional as Vista's Windows-Tab app selector.

    I don't particularly like Apple, but they do seem to have strong design concepts. The design follows the function in their products, as far as I understand. But Pogo looks like they implemented it because the technology was cool, not because they had some difficult problem to solve.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      Agreed. It almost looks like they threw everything they could think of into it, only without much thought.
    • by kestasjk (933987)
      Is there even a niche for a new web browser to fill? Since when do AT&T do freeware?

      One thing not mentioned (in the summary, ahem) is whether the browser is just a new front end to Trident(?)/Gecko/KHTML, or if it actually has its own renderer.
  • Seriously, WHY?

    ONE gig of RAM is sufficient to play most current computer games, and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say those are way more complex than a browser.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Spellvexit (1039042)

      Wow, for me, that's just one of the "whys!" With Microsoft's relative dominance of the browser market and Firefox's slow but steady gains, I don't really understand what sort of a market AT&T thinks they're breaking into. Firefox is gaining because of its simplicity and flexibility, not bloat. Then again, I don't think the Slashdot crowd is the target demographic for this product.

      If AT&T can start bundling this browser with its telecommunications suites, I suppose it could gain some traction the

    • ONE gig of RAM is sufficient to play most current computer games, and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say those are way more complex than a browser.

      Since when did complexity have anything to do with RAM usage? A system like the Linux kernel or EMACS is complex, but they both run in (by today's standard) absolutely tiny amounts of RAM. Conversely, a simulation like Conway's Game of Life or any number of data-parallel scientific computing problems are exceedingly simple, but could require huge supercomputers

  • Spoiled developers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475)
    Who gave the developers machines good enough that they thought these requirements were fine? They should have to use their own browser while using budget PCs that are prime candidates for next year's thin clients.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:09AM (#23106174)

    On the plus side, it reports all your browsing activity to AT&T.

    AT&T
    Your world delivered
    (to us)

  • 3D history? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:09AM (#23106186)
    So, I'll need special glasses to see my history?
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:12AM (#23106216)
    Walt Kelly was right: "we have met the enemy, and he is us".
  • Biased review... (Score:3, Informative)

    by klubar (591384) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:19AM (#23106364) Homepage
    Complaining about a private beta not being fast or working in less than the minimum requirements isn't really fair. The reviewer spends the first half of the review complaining that it doesn't run on hardware less than the requirements, doesn't run on the mac.. and by the way they could of added that it doesn't run on the iPhone, their GPS nor the 1980-era walkman that they own.

    It's a beta, designed to show some concepts and trials. The released software can be sped up or modified. Why not review the features that are included. Presumably, importing bookmarks isn't a core feature for a beta.

    Although, I'm unlikely to switch browsers (seeing no reason to switch from a fully patched IE 7 running as non-administrator on Vista), it's great that there is still competition in the browser market.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)
      While the definition of "beta" isn't set in stone, it's usually meant as a version of a soon to be released product that's mostly through the design phase, and more into the polish, tuning, and bug squashing phase. You don't want to be adding features while moving from Beta to release, because then you'll add in more bugs that won't get tested for.

      But you're right that it's not completely fair to definitively judge beta software in terms of speed and performance. But I don't think it's horribly unfair to ma
    • by Nullav (1053766)

      It's a beta, designed to show some concepts and trials. The released software can be sped up or modified. Why not review the features that are included. Presumably, importing bookmarks isn't a core feature for a beta.

      What do you think beta testing is for? It's not about bragging about some new, glossy turd (that's what 'NEW!' is for); it's for bringing the flaws of a product to the attention of those developing it. Saying something is 'in beta' is asking for constructive criticism, while disavowing responsi

    • by Lord Grey (463613) * on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:15PM (#23107326)

      ... a fully patched IE 7 running as non-administrator on Vista ...

      Semantically equivalent to, "I drive a Pinto, but only in reverse."
    • by pherthyl (445706) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:23PM (#23107434)
      >> seeing no reason to switch from a fully patched IE 7 running as non-administrator on Vista

      Not to start a flame war, but security is really the least of my reasons for choosing Firefox over IE.
      Firefox is faster, more standards compliant, has way better functionality and flexibility due to extensions.
    • by IceFox (18179)
      "Importing bookmarks is a core feature of a beta." Importing it is a core feature period. I am hacking on a webkit browser (linux+mac+win) http://arora.googlecode.com/ [googlecode.com] and one of the first things I did with bookmarks was implement importing. (Granted it was only xbel importing, but that was because it was easy to export all my existing bookmarks from all my browsers to xbel.) This was so that I could migrate to using Arora as my primary browser. As long as your bookmarks are in your old browser your ne
  • Following the successful, and well reviewed by ./ readers, model that Apple used to gain browser market share, AT&T could automatically download the browser as part of a "software update" for AT&T phones. When you visit the AT&T wireless site, they could require the option to upgrade your phone (and without warning install the new AT&T browser).

    Hey, if it worked for Apple, it should work for AT&T.
  • 2GB? Really. This business of storing full resolution images of pages is silly.

    Sure, you can buy 2GB of RAM, but perhaps you might like to use it for something useful while the web browser is running.

    We're approaching the point where web browsers won't run on a 32-bit machine.

  • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:28AM (#23106528)
    ..since I'm an AT&T customer, it feels like there are two unasked questions.

    1.) What is AT&t going to do to make sure that this is the only browser that I use? Certainly something more than a silly EULA. How about automated litigation if I step a foot off Ma Bell's Farm?

    2.) What can Bell do to offer me more choice with their browser? In other words how can they help me by blocking anything other than a heavily proxied port 80. Mail, it should sit on AT&T's webmail, where they own it and copyright whatever I say. FTP, thats for terrorists. We need more choices, you know, like cable TV.
  • So it's VisualFlow (http://www.mee.com.sa/sony-vaio/SoftwareImages/Cr8tvSoftware/Photos/vf_04.gif) for your bookmarks? /pass
  • AT&T is doing a terrible job just connecting our phonecalls and TCP/IP streams without spying on us or holding it for ransom to Net Doublecharge. It should spend more time getting that right before it wastes the revenue for that basic service which we're paying it every month on bloated browsers that just create demand for more expensive Windows and PC upgrades.

    AT&T used to have Bell Labs, which did do basic research that wasn't just to connect calls cheaper and more reliably (and safe from snooping
    • I'm glad you brought up Bell Labs as an example for why AT&T shouldn't do research. *rolls eyes* I don't think they ever got out of the research business. Their corporate website talks about the new AT&T Laboratories [att.com]. Basically it's a joint venture with the former SBC Laboratories, BellSouth Laboratories and AT&T Laboratories.

      Let see Bell Labs has produced a total of 6 Nobel Prizes. They did their part in developing radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser and information theory. [wikipedia.org] And l

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Bell Labs is gone. I'm glad you brought up its accomplishments, because AT&T Labs developing a bloated browser when we've got several and don't need more divergence from the standards compares very poorly with the old Bell Labs. This new lab doesn't get credit for the old one. To the contrary, getting rid of the old one shows what AT&T is not interested in: science in the public interest.

        I'm going to leave out how your admission that you have no gripes with AT&T's treatment of privacy reflects o
        • Okay a few things...

          Bell Labs is gone.

          So semantically the new AT&T Labs is not the same as Bell Labs. Big deal! They can still do research and they are still doing research. Why are you belittling their efforts? Research is research.

          because AT&T Labs developing a bloated browser when we've got several and don't need more divergence from the standards compares very poorly with the old Bell Labs

          It based on Mozilla, how is that divergent from the standards? Firefox is bloated and so is Ema

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Your entire post is a giant heap of fallacies.

            Of course AT&T is free to research if that's what it wants. Of course I never said it's not free to do so. It's free to be wrong. I'm free to say that it's wrong to do so. By your "logic", since you said I was wrong, you're therefore saying that I'm not free to say it's wrong. Obvious nonsense. But that didn't stop you from saying it. You're free to be wrong, but that means nothing to me.

            You've got similarly powerful "logic" equating Bell Labs, with its hist
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:36AM (#23106638) Homepage Journal
    Judging by the screenshots, it looks like some AT&T execs happened to catch a marathon of those 1990s cyber-thrillers which featured portrayals of that mysterious new "Internet" thing that was starting to get noticed, and decided the real Internet should start looking like those Hollywood mockups.
    • Judging by the screenshots, it looks like some AT&T execs happened to catch a marathon of those 1990s cyber-thrillers which featured portrayals of that mysterious new "Internet" thing that was starting to get noticed, and decided the real Internet should start looking like those Hollywood mockups.

      As compared with the more recent cyber-thrillers? LOL.

      Your comments reminded of a recent South Park episode I stumbled across where the entire town lost its internet access. The story culminated in a scene wh
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:39AM (#23106696)
    If all I get for that kind of performance requirements is fancy light shows I'm going to put my precious hardware resources someplace else Thankyouverymuch.
  • Lex 2.0 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Speare (84249) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:55AM (#23106978) Homepage Journal

    a browser from AT&T with new features like a 3-D history and bookmark view

    Lex turns to the clueless paleontologists, "This is Pogo! I know this!"

  • rice browser (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trb (8509) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:01PM (#23107092)
    I don't need a browser with tumbling history and ray-traced menu buttons. Just serve up the pages quick and clean.

    There's no taste for accounting.

  • Seriously, are they such control freaks that they feel they must control the *entire* online experience of their users? Did that work for AOL (or CompuServe, or ...) in the long term?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, this may be a Beta, and that's all well and good. Beta versions of things are allowed to have missing features and all of that stuff, but the probability that it's memory usage drops to an eight h of the current requirement is extremely low. That's not how software development works, if you want something to be efficient you start by designing it that way. Maybe you use a slow inefficent algorithm here or there in modularized boxes, but MAN that would have to be a crappy algorithm.

    My only real problem w
  • Designers should be able to experiment with new interfaces, as long as there's no lag associated with it.

    On my ancient laptop, Expose was annoying half the time. On a non-ancient graphics chipset, it's all hardware accelerated, so there's no lag. It's faster to use Expose to manage your windows than the old methods.

    Granted, Expose is trivial compared to the latest GUI bling. But it's still worth remembering.

    If it slows down the computer, it slows down the user. Since the point of an interface is to allow th
    • If it slows down the computer, it slows down the user.

      I'm trying to abide by that for my 3D file manager. It's not ready for release yet, but there's some screenshots here [homeunix.net]. I'm still not sure it's the right idea, but I'm trying not to get in the user's way. I don't force you to walk across a "room" (directory); if you can see it, you can put the cursor on it and hit the space bar. Bang, you're teleported to that object.

      Anyway, if anyone can come up with a better name than "First Person File Manager", I'

  • Let's apply the recipe for detecting shitty software without evaluating the code:

    1. Only runs under Windows (check)
    2. Extremely poor performance or stellar system requirements compared to similar products (check)
    3. Bloated with useless features and eye candy which don't actually improve the user experience (check)
    4. Requires vbrun.dll (nope)

    3 out of 4 aint bad?
  • I really suspect that they could get the same benefits without the fancy 3d user interface and swoosh effects. To really benefit from 3d you need a metaphor that uses 3d usefully. Just putting 3d flash on an operation doesn't buy you anything over using a 3d metaphor in two dimensions (the window/desktop metaphor).

    The physical world is one possible approach: virtual reality "desktops" are popular in science fiction, and have been since the early '80s. I don't think there's anything I could fit in a slashdot

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