Mozilla outlines 2012 Firefox plans, seamless updates, new UI and more

By on March 15, 2012, 6:00 PM

In a post at Mozilla's "Hacks" blog, technical evangelist Robert Nyman has reiterated the foundation's plans for Firefox in 2012. In addition to silent updates in Firefox 13 -- and this shouldn't come as a surprise -- we can expect to see various UI, performance and compatibility improvements throughout the year. 

After Mozilla switched to a "rapid release" schedule a la Google Chrome, Firefox began receiving major version upgrades about every month and a half. As a result, many users experience something Mozilla labels "update fatigue". Users become annoyed when they are periodically prompted for updates, when Firefox takes it sweet time automagically upgrading at the most inopportune times, when user extensions quit working after an upgrade or simply put, when things just work differently.

To combat this, Firefox 13 will have seamless updating. Major version upgrades from 13 to 14, for example, will be applied without any pauses or annoying dialogue boxes. This is something Chrome has been doing for years but Google has always maintained a frenetic release schedule for their browser. Mozilla, on the other hand, is still a bit new to this whole rapid release thing, so Firefox will likely continue to have its pants ironed out until they are nice and crisp in the coming seasons.

Mozilla has already implemented backwards-compatible extensions as of Firefox 10. So, throwing away the "Firefox is installing your updates and will start in a few moments" message will go a long way in making those frequent upgrades relatively painless and invisible. That particular version also brought users hotfix updates without the need to restart -- yet another small improvement which has paved the way to a more seamless user experience.

Later this year, users can expect plenty more changes. Some noteworthy improvements include seamless plugin installation, a completely redesigned UI (pictured to the upper left), making Firefox Sync one account to rule them all, dramatically improved launch time, better performance including smarter management of multiple tabs and a new javascript engine, and the early beginnings to a Metro-style interface for Windows 8.




User Comments: 23

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Guest said:

IE, are you listening?!

Guest said:

no we are not!

Guest said:

So silent updating..would this eliminate the ridiculous version number and switch to a shorter one??

Really hard to imagine using Firefox 35 sometime next year. It bothers me and i dont know why lol.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

"a completely redesigned UI (pictured to the upper left)"

?

Guest said:

Stop changing the UI it is annoying.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think I would love automated updates. However if I had to continually change or learn how to use the browser, that would only tick me off the way Facebook has done.

Guest said:

FF just like Opera should finally do decent thing and start doing things on your own. Every bloody browser tries to look like Chrome crap. Last decent version of FF is still 3.6.27. Opera went down the hill since 6.05 but I still use it despite the fact that new versions of the browser are really far cry of program that I fallen in love ~version 3.0. Too bad that nobody is developing classic O. Even if they release FF25 before end of the year I will still be running only 3.6.xx.

Arris Arris said:

I hate the silent updating of Chrome. When testing in a development environment you really don't want browsers having updates without your knowledge. At least its a step to simplify general user experience. Safari for Windows still insists that you go and manually download the latest version after manually checking the version number of the one you have installed against the latest downloads version number. As long as the automatic update can be turned off I'll be happy.

Arris Arris said:

And like the guest about I'm still an Opera user.

Guest said:

What is wrong with the current UI ? I think it is pretty straightforward. That screenshot reminds me of IE8/9 - not a good thing...

Guest said:

Firefox really need to fix their zoom function; the pictures become unclear in comparison to other browsers.

Guest said:

One problem with the fast track of releases, it doesn't give developer of plugins time to catch up. I use the release version of FF and also Aurora. The release version has 1 plugin that hasn't caught up, but Aurora has about 6. And every time a major release comes out, it seems that i only have one or two working plugins left.

Guest said:

@Arris:

"I hate the silent updating of Chrome. When testing in a development environment you really don't want browsers having updates without your knowledge."

Under firefox preferences for updates you can select:

1) update automatically

2) check automatically but let me choose when to update

3) do not update automatically

Firefox gives you a choice, chrome does not.

---

@guests:

"So silent updating..would this eliminate the ridiculous version number and switch to a shorter one??"

-FF increments version numbers for every release as each one has new (non-backwards compatible) APIs. Previously new APIs would only be added about once a year, meaning we would get the good stuff months after it was developed. Now we get it as soon as its ready!

---

"Stop changing the UI it is annoying."

-if you prefer the look of FF 3.x.x, just right click on the tabs bar and uncheck "tabs on top". Boom! just like before.

---

"The release version has 1 plugin that hasn't caught up, but Aurora has about 6. And every time a major release comes out, it seems that i only have one or two working plugins left."

-If you mean extensions and those are automatically marked compatible since FF10 unless there are serious issues with them (rare).

Guest said:

I for one prefer the UI changes. The more the glass and transparency to the UI the better in my opinion. I get so sick and tired of looking at plain old solid colors, it's *ing ridiculous especially nowadays! Not sure if any of you remember the "Black Glass" mod for Windows 7 but that is how we should view the future of windows and windows apps....period! Bring on the new UI's...FTW! :D

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

So silent updating..would this eliminate the ridiculous version number and switch to a shorter one??

Really hard to imagine using Firefox 35 sometime next year. It bothers me and i dont know why lol.

It's tough listening to you trash Mozilla for the absurd browser release numbers. It seems to me that Mozilla has had this naming paradigm forced upon them by the megalomaniacs at Google, who insist on calling what would amount to a ".01" version update in other software, an entire whole number update.

It seems like nowadays, when Google farts, the world lines up to sniff it ..... Is that a good analog?. I'll answer my own question. YES, Indeed it is!

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

In that sense, Firefox 4 should've been Firefox 2. As far as the absence of the decimals after the number are concerned, maybe it's their way of showing the inbred masses that they are working very hard and each version is a glorious overhaul. Duh!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

In that sense, Firefox 4 should've been Firefox 2. As far as the absence of the decimals after the number are concerned, maybe it's their way of showing the inbred masses that they are working very hard and each version is a glorious overhaul. Duh!
No, the inbred masses are all too easily impressed by Google's naming structure, which flies in the face of any other previously accepted update nomenclature. In other words, people are stupid, people think Google is the second coming, Google likes to give big number to their browser updates, to make people think they're working hard, and tragically, the people at Mozilla have been forced to follow suit.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

No, the inbred masses are all too easily impressed by Google's naming structure, which flies in the face of any other previously accepted update nomenclature. In other words, people are stupid, people think Google is the second coming, Google likes to give big number to their browser updates, to make people think they're working hard, and tragically, the people at Mozilla have been forced to follow suit.

Yes, that is what I meant to say. E.g., if the actual code update/fix summation of Chrome should've been 12, they say it's 24. Sort of inflating the numbers to make it look like a big update. Or counting negligible edit, like moving the status bar 2 pixels lower.

Is it just me, or both our titles are messed up?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Is it just me, or both our titles are messed up?

I may have gotten a demotion for flaming Bobcat. Which seems rather harsh, since the majority of what I said involved telling him if he thinks he's a cat, he should go find a sunny window and bask in it.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

Urm...Not that I will comment on that, but the titles system seems to be malfunctioning as a whole. People with <100 posts are in possession of an enthusiast title, and those with 350+ posts are still on Enthusiast. I'm not here for titles, but the point is the malfunction.

But, there's a better board for that topic. Back to the point.

Some s/w have been around for years, and are still in single-digit versions. Making updates look big doesn't make sense. I mean, look at the other side- analysts may think, that the code was so badly written that it had to be updated so much. As we know, some software were released with such a code that was light-years ahead of its time, and thus didn't need updating for a long time. Though browsers are a different case, their full change-log (a valid one at that) should be published. For critiques to make sure the "update" isn't a bluff.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Some s/w have been around for years, and are still in single-digit versions. Making updates look big doesn't make sense. I mean, look at the other side- analysts may think, that the code was so badly written that it had to be updated so much. As we know, some software were released with such a code that was light-years ahead of its time, and thus didn't need updating for a long time. Though browsers are a different case, their full change-log (a valid one at that) should be published. For critiques to make sure the "update" isn't a bluff.

Well, I beg to differ. Making updates look "BIG", doesn't make sense to you or I. It likely looks spectacular to someone with little computer savvy, and even less common sense.. I choose to take refuge in the concept I can't read, because I used to work for the post office. There are a host of people out there who fantasize they can read, simply because they recognize the words. Big updates make sense to them, because nothing to the right of the decimal point "registers" with them. And really, I have no sympathy for individuals in that category. You reap what you sow, plus the Adware.

Guest said:

I hate the silent update feature, please..... no one is that lazy! I like updating when I want, not automatically behind the scenes while taking up resources and slowing computer down some with phone home monitoring. When I want to update, I can go to mozilla and look to see what the latest update is and go from there. Leave the stupid slilent update out of Firefox.

Parthiban Parthiban said:

And this fast and regular updating to fix "security issues" breaks all the security related add-ons from Kaspersky which ensure safe financial transactions. Can the firefox updates provide the same level of security as kaspersky's add-ons do ? Can they ensure safe banking transactions. My virtual keyboard from kaspersky becomes incompatible with every new release.

These frequent security updates increase the security risks, they don't decrease it! Mozzilla, use your brains !!!

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