Firefox users who run the stable version of the browser may observe a recurring theme every six weeks or so. Six weeks is the interval in which Mozilla releases new major version updates for the browser. These updates land on the Mozilla release ftp server first, before they are moved and distributed to other servers to make sure that all Firefox users running a stable build will have a positive updating experience. The new releases land often days ahead of schedule on the ftp server, and while they are sometimes replaced by newer versions, it is rarely the case that this is happening.
Firefox 13 is now available on Mozilla's ftp server for all supported operating systems and languages. You'll also find the release on major software portals before it is officially released. Softpedia is for instance already listing Firefox 13.0 final on their website.
If you are interested in an in depth overview of what is new in Firefox 13, I suggest you take a look at my review of the new version that I published at the end of April.
Here is a short summary for those of you who are in a hurry:
- New about:home startpage. This is initially displayed to new users as the default homepage of the browser. It displays a Google search form, links to the add-ons repository, and links to Firefox menus and features such as downloads, bookmarks, sync or the settings of the browser.
- The new tab page displays a Speed Dial like interface. You can drag and drop often visited websites and services from your bookmarks or a site you are on to the speed dial interface. It is possible to disable it with a click on the icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Better performance thanks to Mozilla's Project Snappy. This includes for instance the new load tabs on demand feature that users who restore the session of the browser on start up will benefit from. Instead of loading all websites in all tabs during start, only the active tab's website is loaded. The other sites are loaded once they are activated by the user.
- Reset Firefox is another new feature that Firefox users may like, as it can be used to reset a broken or ill-behaving Firefox installation. It basically creates a new profile and copies some of the user's personal information and data to it afterwards. This includes the bookmarks, saved passwords, cookies, form data and the web browsing history. Some features, like the installed add-ons or interface customizations won't be transferred though, as they are often the root cause of the issue. I'd recommend to create a backup prior to resetting Firefox to restore features that you are interested in this way. The reset Firefox feature will propose a reset automatically under certain circumstances, and you can also run it manually via about:support.
- Smaller changes have been integrated into the web browser, like smooth scrolling, improvements to developer tools, or the integration of ASRL Address Space Layout Randomization for add-ons.
Firefox 13 will be released officially on June 5, along with Firefox ESR 10.0.5, Firefox 14 Beta and Firefox 15 Aurora.