Who knows what is going on at Mozilla?

As a passionate Firefox user who values that browser more than any other currently on the market, I have seen Mozilla make a number of bad decisions in the past couple of years.

None of those managed to get me to the breaking-up point where I shed a tear and waved the browser goodbye for good but they have made me question why these decisions and implementations were made in first place.

I won't talk about Australis or Web Extensions here.

Here, I'm going to concentrate on decisions where revenue opportunities have played a role in the decision making process whether to implement a feature in Firefox or not.

Update: Mozilla responded to the article and I have added the response underneath each item listed here.

Pocket

pocket

Let us start with the Pocket integration in Firefox. Pocket is a popular read-it-later service that was available as a browser add-on for Firefox previously.

Firefox users can disable Pocket and ignore it from that moment on.

Mozilla made the decision to integrate Pocket natively into Firefox, and engineers stated openly that Mozilla was not benefiting monetarily from the integration.

Later, it turned out, that this was not the case, and that Mozilla had a revenue share agreement with Pocket.

OK, so my knowledge about this still extremely limited. It's basically exactly what the article says: they aren't paying us directly for the Pocket integration. I think the revenue sharing thing kicks in if you subscribe to the premium service.

FWIW I hadn't heard about the revenue sharing thing until later on, and even then it was just rumor. This is the first time I've seen this directly attached to somebody in a leadership role.

The question that I'm asking myself now is whether Pocket would have found its way into Firefox in the first place if the revenue share agreement would have been public knowledge, and how many of Firefox's engineers still stand by the decision that a native Pocket integration was the right decision.

While executives don't need to reveal to engineers why they want something done, these engineers might have argued against the integration if they would have known about the financial motivation behind it.

Mozilla:

As we originally shared, Pocket started as a popular Firefox Add-on and is now a service in Firefox Accounts. We integrated Pocket because we loved their service and so did Firefox users. This was not a decision we made based on revenue.

It is true that Pocket did not pay to be included in Firefox.  It is also true that we have a revenue sharing agreement with Pocket.

New Tab Page ads

grid_with_new_trulia

Another controversial, money related feature that Mozilla experimented with were ads on the browser's New Tab Page.

These sponsored tile ads were dropped in late 2015 in favor of content discovery according to Darren Herman, Mozilla's VP of Content Services.

We have therefore made the decision to stop advertising in Firefox through the Tiles experiment in order to focus on content discovery

While not mentioned explicitly, it is likely that these ads were not bringing in a lot of money, considering that they were only shown on the default New Tab Page (which filled with tiles of sites the user visited after a while).

Mozilla

As we have also shared, “Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business for us at this time” We want to reiterate that the reason we made the decision to end the Tiles experiment is not revenue-related.

The future

firefox activity stream

Mockups of a new Activity Stream feature and New Tab Page redesign were published last month.

While mockups don't necessary find their way into the browser, it seems that Mozilla plans to go ahead with the focus on content discovery mentioned by Herman.

The Spotlight feature will display "nearly now" and "recommended" content, and seems to be similar to the Discovery feature of the Opera browser.

I welcome a redesign of the browser's history page as it could be better (as do those of Chrome and other browsers).

It is likely that Mozilla will provided options to disable Spotlight should it decide to launch it.

Personally, I have no use for it and think that it takes up too much premium space in the mockups.

Mozilla

With regards to the Activity Stream, we want to clarify that this is a mockup shared by our community and not something that is final that we have published. ​

Closing Words

Mozilla makes most of its money from its search deals, and diversification of that one revenue stream is a good thing.

What bugs me the most about these decisions however is that, at least when it comes to Pocket, Mozilla has not been open about the monetary gains it receives from the integration, and that money may have been one of the primary motivators in integrating the service into Firefox.

All features mentioned up to this point can be disabled easily in Firefox which is undeniably one of the strengths of the browser.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Summary
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Who knows what is going on at Mozilla?
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The article discusses some recent decisions made by Mozilla in regards to Firefox that seem to have been based at least partially on monetary reasons.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Responses to Who knows what is going on at Mozilla?

  1. Pants March 7, 2016 at 8:37 am #

    "on decisions were revenue opportunities" .. on decisions WHERE revenue opportunities

    • BobbyPhoenix March 7, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      Huh? It's not "where money was", but "the decisions made are the results of wanting money".

      • Pants March 8, 2016 at 9:30 am #

        I was pointing out a homonym error, not telling Martin how to write. There is absolutely else nothing wrong with Martin's sentence as far as I'm concerned. The original sentence is: "I'm going to concentrate on decisions [where] revenue opportunities have played a role in the decision making process"

        "where money was" - There is no such quote. The subject of the where clause (or qualifying clause) is [revenue] opportunities.

        "the decisions made are the results of wanting money" - Martin never explicitly said this. Verbal reasoning 101: "played *a* role", does not mean it is the only or overriding factor. While revenue may have been a bonus or consideration, the real reasons may have been something else entirely (diversity, public image, etc). That Martin is discussing some of Mozilla's choices that can be directly tied to revenue, does not mean those choices were made based solely on how much money they could get.

  2. mozilla fan March 7, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    just use about:config - it solves all problems

    • Pants March 7, 2016 at 10:19 am #

      Well, not really. Some preferences become deprecated (or are never added to begin with). Personally, I don't really care about Pocket, Hello, New Tile Ads, Seer/Necko and so on - just as long as I can turn them off. So far they've allowed that.

  3. jimbo March 7, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    I thought the post was going to be about this somewhat interesting insider slant ...
    https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/494cc3/ive_been_working_at_mozilla_for_many_years_from/

    • Martin Brinkmann March 7, 2016 at 10:41 am #

      Since it cannot be verified from the outside, I have filed it under rumor and decided not to write about it.

      • gh March 7, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

        regarding the reputed "marketshare does not matter" quote:

        I've seen this expressed (not verbatim though) in various *.mozilla. org blog and wiki pages. Philosophically, the statd emphasis has been toward providing a "viable alternative" (to MSIE, to Chrome, to Safari), whether or not the product is widely embraced.

        My greatest "philosophical" critism is that Mozilla has failed to prioritize, and to protect, user privacy. Polaris aka Disconnect aka whatever flavor of the day is an insult -- a dog and pony show.

        Above someone mentioned "ah, just visit about:config" and another mentioned "each of the unwanted features can be disabled"... not true. As one who loathes the inclusion of a cam+mic enabled component hardcoded within the browser, can I "turn it off"? No, not since ff version 35(?) because "disabling webrtc on the main thread breaks Loop (aka Firefox Hello)".

        Mozilla adopted support for html href PING attribute ~~ choosing to support "web standards" (dafuq?) over user privacy, as reflected in the default preference (enabled) ~~ and have pulled so many other "fast ones" which undermine (undo, override, workaround) a user's previously specified preferences. Example: when too many folks chafed at "telemetry" and disabled it... moz introduced an overriding, side-stepping, "v.2" telemetry pref.

    • Anonymous-Mozemployee March 7, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

      Here is the writer of that post which already spawned countless discussions on Reddit and Hackernews...

      As i wrote today in Slashdot already:

      I also recommend that everyone who is interested to learn the truth is contacting Moonchild over at http://forum.palemoon.org/ - As we had a longer time ago some short interesting talk about the bad situation of Mozilla in general and about Pale Moon.

      Feel free to talk to him and this too should give you certainty that i am no cheap faker and instead are INDEED a Mozilla employee.

      Nothing more to add. There is already too much misinformation, it is incredible what one post can create for a tremor... Even if it is the truth!

      • Moonchild March 9, 2016 at 12:41 am #

        Although I appreciate you reaching out this way, please understand that I'd rather not be flooded with the obvious repeat questions resulting for this comment without having a direct answer to the questioners. An anonymous poster is anonymous also to me (I don't have a magic wand or crystal ball) and using me as a reference without contacting me directly as well to indicate i'm being referenced in a way that will cause questions is creating a bit of an awkward situation ;)

        If you could, please ping me directly through the same channel used before to contact me, then I can confirm publicly (without breaching your anonymity) if this is indeed a trusted, accurate source of information or not, and i will post a followup here when I have more information to confirm.

        Thanks in advance,
        Moonchild.

  4. Nebulus March 7, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    As I stated many times before, even though I'm stubborn enough to keep using Firefox as my primary browser, I don't like the direction Mozilla is heading. Being an open source project though, makes me a bit more confident that a lot of junk can be disabled by configuration or even compiled out and we can continue to enjoy the good part that is left in Firefox.

  5. Jeff March 7, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    Use the Chrome, Luke. It's better with extensions now compared to Firefox.

    • Corky March 7, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

      Chrome's biggest drawback is Google.

    • Jeff-FL March 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

      Ok, there are now two "Jeff's on here, and since I wholeheartedly disagree with this new imposter, I shall henceforth be known as Jeff-FL!

      • Jeff-ME March 7, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

        Make it three.
        I just can't remember if I've previously posted as Jeff or Jeff-FL. Memory problems.

    • ;-) March 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #

      A statement of opinion based on imagination. How do I know? Because the statement is not based on facts. Why not say that Chrome comes with real live unicorns delivered to your front door while you are at it?

    • Doc March 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      Chrome is a memory hog, and its extension system is WAY behind Firefox's. Otherwise, somebody would have written Tab Mix Plus, DownThemAll!, and FoxClocks for Chrome: in order to get a digital clock on Chrome, you STILL have to use two addons - and two buttons - to get hours and minutes [(HH:) (MM)] unless you stack them in a single button! Awkward and useless! At least Firefox lets you put text as a button...

  6. stilofilos March 7, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    Seems they have no real plan like other companies have, at least not on a longer term than to the next turn of the winds. Remove features from the core to addons, then integrate some addons into the core.
    It also looks like they are even more naive than they think we are..., allegedly installing things without knowing about financial implications... OK, not everything is pro deo in this world, so I understand that they want to generate some income, but plainly cheating about it is not good at all.

    Anyway, I am using the about:blank as new tab page, so I'm not bothered with all their ad junk and pseudo-information passing far beneath me.
    After a new clean install of windows in august last year, I installed the then version of Firefox, with the Classic Theme Restorer and a number of other addons, and it runs nicely. No browser updates, no 'upgrades', and all that recent fuss is of no concern to me.
    No problem with them experimenting with new features as they think these might interest people, as long as they keep providing settings through which we can opt in or out.
    In general they should never push things through people's throats as they appear to have done recently. The choice to use features or not should always remain into the hands of the user.

  7. Neal March 7, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    The core Firefox user base isn't the priority anymore. The are trying to attract and grow a new base. I can sympathize and agree somewhat, you can't just incrementally improve Firefox (javascript engine, speed, etc) and hope it stay relevant. If Firefox as a desktop browser doesn't stay relevant than of course Mozilla mission statement of a open and free internet is impossible.

    At the same time, most of the stuff they are adding seem to have no impact on the hardcore Firefox base. If Firefox was actually dominant, I could grudgingly go along with what they are doing, but Firefox market share is diminishing so that's one of the reason for the unrest among the core user. Every retreat whether it be Firefox adopting webkit prefixes to abandoning Firefox OS (after diverting a lot of resources) diminishes the browser.

    • gh March 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

      Follow the money.

      Did mozilla abandon FirefoxOS? In name only, as an official project.
      I believe this represents yet another "Perks" instance, where a few mozillian devs launch off on their own -- brilliant opportunity to monetize a relatively mature product, one which has seen millions upon millions of dollars invested in its nascent development while under the mozilla umbrella.

      Samsung (or izzit LG?) will continue to ship b2g powered smart TVs, with (paid) support to be provided by those no-longer-mozillians.

      Partially using what was learned (and coded) for b2g, mozilla has announced their intended "pivot" toward focusing on Interestingnet Of Thingies. After millions are invested in that endeavor, wannabet it too will be shed from the mozilla umbrella... to be privately monetized by a select few (lick my boots, and maybe I'll take ya with me) departing mozillians.

      • marten March 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

        The way i see it Google infested Mozilla long ago via summer of code and has been eviscerating them from inside ever since. They made them dependant on their money to enforce their design wishes. Simultaneously they poached any talent they could. Now that they have basically won the browser war they withdrew their cash and let mozilla self-destruct. With android plus chrome Google can effectively force people to use them because of their dominant market share. Mozilla is still infected with the 'lets do what google does cause they're successful bug' hence the half-baked push into mobile phones. They don't realise the only reason google is a success is because they got there first. As the old business saying goes its better to have the first product than the best product. IoT could be lucrative, because if google made it it would be an 'Internet-of-things-constantly-spying-on-you' which would alienate a lot of users. Still I agree the 'leaders' at mozilla are more interested in lining their own pockets in the short term than creating a successful long term business and they're mainly hyping IoT to score points/cash from samsung.

  8. CHEF-KOCH March 7, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    As long everything is manageable with about:config I see not much problems. I understand that they want to get more fans and users and make some stuff easier, you simply can't make it for everyone right but as mentioned you can deal with it.

    I guess especially on Browser things it's a learned process.

  9. Tom Hawack March 7, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    It's about money but it's also about innovation, innovation for innovation and innovation as a pretext for income (two birds with one stone).

    Innovation is a key word nowadays, more rather than better. Fine, but innovation requires pertinence, it must fit in what exists, bring a true plus-value and one way of achieving this is, for the developers, to listen to the users and, if anticipating, share the new idea, concept with them. The general feeling is that there is a bunch of geeks flying high, too high, groovin' far above ("ahead" do they believe) what users wish, need.

    Money, income, required as always, must be explained when it interferes in projects and most of all never hidden under the pretext of innovation : people are not idiots even if some geeks are so infatuated that they believe the masses eat what they're fed with... until they get fed up (does that sound funny in English?).

    Google's Chrome is said to be the #1 browser within a few months (Windows 10 1st birthday on July 29th could correspond with Internet Explorer + Edge behind Chrome) and Mozilla's Firefox policy seems to be that of a blend of hysteria and blindness (this explains that) in their management of the race. There is an alternative: stick on fundamentals, stay simple and improve what exists, stop copying others and return to the basics: respect users, respect intelligence, and think twice when innovating.

    That's the way I see it. What is going on at Mozilla? Idiocy leading to chaos.

  10. joncr March 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    "Wrong decision" usually means "a decision to do something I don't like".

    No one is willing to pay for any of these products or services, so their makers are left to scramble to find ways to make some money. No matter what they do, someone is sure to be offended.

    • Tom Hawack March 7, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      Many someones make a revolution, let's not forget that. A revolution in terms of marketing means a failure. true for Windows 10, true for Firefox.

      About what I mentioned above concerning the rise of Google's Chrome : "Microsoft's Edge and IE browsers are being abandoned" at pcworld dot com/article/3039933/browsers/microsoft-could-lose-out-as-the-top-browser-vendor-as-early-as-may.html

  11. joncr March 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    It's not 'wrong' just because I don't like it.

    People won't pay for any of this stuff, yet someone is always offended by efforts to generate some cash. These things aren't made by magic elves.

    • Martin Brinkmann March 7, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

      I don't think that the majority of users are offended by Mozilla trying to make money, but if they do, they should be open about it and state that.

  12. Idiot March 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    I think all this doesn't really matter because Firefox will die anyway within the next 10 years: Firefox used to have 40%+ market share, now it is around 13%, in ten years only 1-2% of users will still use Firefox. So, instead of developing Servo, integrating Pocket, Hello and other shit nobody cares about Mozilla should switch to Google Chrome engine and start building its own feature set on top of it just like Vivaldi did.

  13. insanelyapple March 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    They went from community of web-surfers, it-specialists, power-users, programmers to corporation that cares only how to turn this browser business into money-making machine or out of place problems with gender (as you reported Martin, the case of bro extension).

    It's not the same browser as it used to be 16 years ago and you can clearly see that in amount of entries we had to set in about:config registry to protect own interest or set browser to be TRULY user-friendly. This has gone too far and I'd be surprised if they would turn around from path they took.

  14. pd March 7, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    I've been a very vocal critic of the direction Mozilla has gone in within the comments on your site Martin. This is because I have up reading planet Mozilla when I never read enough about this thing called a browser. It was all about bizarre ancillary projects if it wasn't about that stupid bloody OS phone idea. They STILL don't have e10s yet. Not is 64bit a genuine first class option which means I'm running Firefox in a 32 bit emulator!

    But this is not time to consider the failures or the symptoms. Squeezing Brendan Eich out was atrociously hypocritical by all the Rainbow Alphabet vocal minority and that should never be forgotten. It's a blight on the supposedly socially progressive, lateral thinking, respectful organization Mozilla thinks it is ... a blight that will always remain a black mark.

    It's very tempting to say that was the moment Mozilla lost it's soul and that everything has been going downhill since then. But my guess is the rot set in much earlier. Last decade in fact. The advent of Google as a browser player hasn't just cut Mozilla's share or compromised their funding perspective. The advent of Chrome, combined with the return to form of Microsoft, and the dominance of crApple early in the smart phone days, all created a situation where Mozilla no longer knew what it's role was. This all started late last decade when planet Mozilla saw daily "I'm leaving, been poached by Hooli" posts. Firefox was relatively mature in it's short lifetime and a lack of leadership meant there was no doubling down on the core product to help it survive the onslaught from a new player and the waking of the sleeping giant it tiptoed around in the first place. Fixing the memory bloat should have started the moment Chrome was announced. Likewise e10s. Instead they started playing in all sorts of weird sandpits like education and that OS garbage. Really, what were they thinking? For years they'd refused to seriously support the underpinnings of Firefox as a cross platform application foundation by only giving XULrunner lip service support ... then all of a sudden they thought they could not only take on an established software duopoly but hope to convince hardware OEMs in an ultra cut throat segment to go with an untried OS?

    Put smoky though, the rot seemed to set in when Mozilla started to see itself as the underfunded battler trying to punch above it's weight against a trio of goliaths (MS, Google, crApple).

    Right there and then Mozilla either made a very clear and strong statement of intent within the new environment it was now living in, or it allowed this "poor us, no matter what we do we can't compete" attitude to infest the same organization that once saw it's size and position as an advantage, not a weakness.

    Having graduated from taking on a monopolist only to see a third huge competitor enter their market at the same time as the market was diversifying into mobile ... Mozilla didn't know who it was and what it was doing anymore and when they finally came up with the idea of taking on a duopoly this time ... by selling tech to 3rd world markets no less (!) ... they got it very, utterly wrong.

    I'm my mind everything else is symptoms and relative trivialities. Pocket? Who cares! Two clicks and it's gone. Classic Theme Restorer solves most interface blunders. But what really needed leadership and direction was simple: fix the core product in the areas it was no longer competitive at day 1 when the new market environment became obvious: the day Chrome was announced. Memory bloat, e10s, plugin handling and perhaps most critical but always overlooked (by me as well) updating and configuring in the enterprise. Mozilla should have torn Chrome apart with an exhaustive analysis to find where it overtook Firefox and where it still has weaknesses. Instead they opted to continue the utterly boorish time-honored game of interface copy cat that traditionally served as the delusional height of innovation when responding to a market share shift in the browser market.

    In short Mozilla has failed to compete with it's core cash cow product for the first phase of it's 'adult' six years of life. It's all very easy when the trendy crowd is behind you and your competition is so far up it's own behind there's more light in a black hole (am I the only one who wants to ensure the source code for IE6 is actually cremated and thrown down a volcano or shot out of a SpaceX rocket?). But when your competitors respond and you have no meaningful response even ready, then you continue to faff about for years to come (really, 7 years to get multi process? Really?) ... therein lies the real disease that sees Mozilla floundering.

    What will the next 6 years see them do? IoT? Ahhh FFS! Try refocusing on the core product, not just another generic vague focus on whatever the industry talking heads are babbling on about this time.

    • Jason March 8, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to write that long comment. I basically agree with you that behind the little things we're complaining about (e.g. Pocket) lurk much deeper issues related to values.

      I really believe Mozilla should give up efforts to be a Chrome/Edge alternative and just focus on nerds and geeks. That was the whole point of Firefox in the first place. Create a resource-light browser whose functionality can be scaled up with extensions. Focus on privacy and freedom. There are lots of people who care about these things.

      This scheme of trying to out-Google Google is just bound to fail.

  15. Henk van Setten March 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    I remain quite happy with my decision, about a year ago, to dump Firefox entirely and go with Pale Moon as my default browser instead. And I must say I fail to understand why people like Martin Brinkmann, the author of this post, still keep clinging to Firefox. It cannot be their intricate Firefox extensions setup, as nearly all of them will work in Pale Moon just as well.

    So please, Martin, do me a favor and write us a follow-up post about "Why I still prefer Firefox over Pale Moon". I mean it, I'd be curious to see your arguments.

    • Jeff March 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      * It's been a while since I've tried PM, but last time I did about a third of my extensions didn't work, including a few must-haves that were deal-breakers for me.

      * A lot of people also prefer the root product, instead of one that waits and reacts to the root product.

      * Mozilla is an established organization and PM is what, a few guys working out of their basement? :-)

      * Lastly, so far, virtually all of the FF complaints I typically see are easily resolved with add-ons or about:config adjustments, so I think for most of us, the problems aren't really an issue ... yet.

      • Jason March 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

        In addition to everything Jeff wrote, Pale Moon and Firefox are increasingly diverging from one another. The PM developer(s) has stated he won't follow Firefox down the path of e10s or Webextensions, for example. These are not minor decisions. Each successive Firefox release will be more different from PM, meaning that the PM developer(s) will have more and more work to do each time. Is this process sustainable by a guy (or bunch of guys) working in a basement? Doubt it.

    • marten March 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

      I've tried palemoon... its okay, but its just Firefox24. Seriously no significant change has been added to it in the 5 years of its existence, except some minor changes that break a bunch of add-ons. I had basically the same functionality from Firefox21. But the web is moving on with new tools and plugins the old browsers can't support. I've noticed more and more sites losing functionality on the old browsers so it was time to move on. Also I'm getting tired of a handful of fanboys loudly hyping palemoon every chance they get. Why are you clinging to an obsolete poorly maintained fork destined to slowly wither and die?

      I just tried out versions 38 onwards of firefox and after you fix all the stupid default settings they're pretty much the same as the old versions but with up to date features. From a technical point of view its not too late to save Firefox, but the culture of 'inflicting our vision on the world' is deeply engrained and they are totally disconnected from reality. A quick look at the browser usage share tells the story: Every time they do a major revision they take away users rights and their market share declines, then stabilises after everyone they've alienated has left. Then they do another revision and the process repeats. It happened at the switch to 4, and happened bigtime at 27. Enforced signing post 45 will be the next big drop. Still Chrome and all its clones are still way behind firefox in terms of user choice.

      The only interesting browser I've come across that is genuinely different and based on giving the user total control is K-meleon. It is extremely minimalist though and would take some getting used to.

  16. SocialMediaGrandpa March 7, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    "A lot of people also prefer the root product, instead of one that waits and reacts to the root product".
    Haha. Isn't that the reason more and more people are going with Chrome these days?
    I had to dump Firefox, and I was sad about it. But as a visually impaired user things just got worse and worse for me. The rapid update cycle meant I had to constantly google for solutions to new problems. And Australis was the last straw. Now I'm a happy Pale Moon user. Not that PM doesn't have its issues. But at least I feel like it's my browser. I feel like Mozilla is going out of their way to make Firefox THEIR browser and ruin what was great about it. Well, if that's what they need to stay competitive and stay in business I guess that's fair enough. I just hope PM can keep going. Even with its quirks it's still a so much nicer experience than FF these days.

  17. Ben March 7, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    > I won't talk about [...] Web Extensions here.
    Well they are the biggest threat to the existence of Firefox.
    All that other stuff you could mostly ignore.
    Breaking lots and lots of addons and limiting the user (like chrome) cannot be ignored, as it will destroy FF.

    • marten March 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      Web exstensions will actually allow the browser to do much, much more than it currently does... but if they lock users out of controlling that functionality then yes it will be a big problem (unfortunately highly likely based on their attitude to users)

      • Ben March 11, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

        > Web exstensions will actually allow the browser to do much, much more than it currently does
        What you write is logically impossible.
        Right now addons can do everything since they are in no way limited.
        With the new system they have to use the API mozilla allowes them to use.
        It is impossible to have the same freedom as before. If the API the addon would need does not exist, the addon simply will not work.

  18. Lestat March 7, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    It seems to look like Mozilla is running out of money, Yahoo's future is not secured, so Mozilla's main income.

    Dropping more and more projects, removing all advanced complex features away from the core code, adding additional ways to earn money.... It is either they are greedy or they are getting into serious cash issues. No matter what, it is obvious that Mozilla has sever problems right now. How deep this issues really are going, only Mozilla does know.

    The secret is not trying to compete with Chrome, instead focus only on Firefox and make it attractive for power users or advanced users again.

    But that seems not to be a priority for Mozilla, instead a priority is Chrome parity... Getting more Chrome users, getting more relevance again? If that is their only plan, they are in grave danger.

    • gh March 7, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

      I'd expect their partnership with baidu, along with whomever is the search partner for India, is much more lucrative than the yahoo partnership.

      "The secret is not trying to compete with Chrome"

      I'm saying that the SECRET is that mozilla is COLLUDING WITH (not competing with) Google, in terms of stuffing privacy-unfriendly "features" into the browser, pursuing an agenda of "well xyz should be a standard b/c it's supported by two of the major browsers" (or the flip-side copout: "it's potentially privacy unfriendly, and was added into W3C draft at the insistance of corporate players... but we GOTTA support the standards")

      Hey, bend over, lemme staple yer OCSP for ya. C'mon, it's for your protection...

      That SPI integriy attribute moz has added support of, yeah, it's gonna foil your adblocker from injecting surrogate scripts. Can you turn it off, tell the browser to ignore it? Noooo, Unca Adsense wouldn't approve of such a thing!

  19. gh March 7, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    The article mentioned "While not mentioned explicitly, it is likely that these ads were not bringing in a lot of money"

    planet.mozilla.org
    FWIW, if you scroll back to (IIRC dec2015) older posts there, you'll find a fairly explicit blog post stating that the NewTabs ads "feature" had proven to be a net loss and the decision to abandon was motivated by shedding the cost overhead associated with maintaining it.

  20. gh March 7, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    Connect the dots, and it should be pretty damn clear
    that mozilla knows EXACTLY what they're doing:

    .
    At each startup, the firefox WEB BROWSER (see nsUserInfo.cpp) retrieves user's GIVEN NAME and email address associated with O/S user login.

    .
    windows build of firefox release channel ships MaintenanceService
    (an end-run, circumvents user's attempt to enforce limited capabilities of installed applications)

    .
    firefox release channel ships with "experiments" ENABLED
    (divide and conquer. Confound users. Sit back and laugh when victims of experiments are ridiculed and derided when they report misbehavior.)

    .
    firefox release channel ships with "telemetry" reporting enabled
    (the feature initially shipped as an opt-in. Pref was flipped when too many users elected to NOT opt in)

    .
    __noSuchMethod__ (which provided essential proxying functionality to extensions) has been "deppacated"

    .
    Now that extensions are locked down, only blessed (cha-ching partner) extensions will receive SpecialPowers.

    .
    Subresource Integrity, introduced into W3C draft Nov2015
    www .w3.org/TR/SRI/
    has already received fasttrack adoption by mozilla firefox

    .
    Debian iceweasel packager (mozilla employee Mike Hommey) has seen to it that debian will drop iceweasel and go with the 'zilla brand. (Iceweasel was, or had been, neutering the "signed extensions" mandate.)

    .
    Developer of CCK2 extension has joined (become an employee of) mozilla.

    .
    .* this is an ABBREVIATED list of "dots". Plenty more exist if you have the nerve to peek behind the curtain and audit the OPEN SOURCE code... but nobody does so? Too busy playing CandyCrush and AngryBirds and streaming the latest GameOfThromes episode. Sigh.
    .
    ==============================

    If, for whatever reason, you become a "person of interest"... bear in mind that, via MaintenanceService, your PC is essentially backdoored. At each launch, and at least once per 24hrs during an extended session, "Mozilla & partners" has opportunity to invoke the updateService and/or "experiments" feature, exfiltrating whatever info/files from your PC (or maybe silently plant some kiddieporn).

    Trust, but verify?
    Nearly 2 yrs ago, I reported to TorProject bugtracker the nsUserInfo.cpp O/S user credential sniffing. Later, I found that someone else had reported same in Palemoon forum. PM reportee was ridiculed; to date, neither PM nor TorBrowser has patched to remove from the browser this BLATANTLY privacy-intrusive code.

    • michal March 8, 2016 at 9:38 am #

      Hey, are you for real?! Anyone would like to comment privacy related issues described above? As an avid PM user I'd like to hear M.C. Straver (Moonchild - PM dev) commentary about that. Especially first two "issues".

      • Tom Hawack March 8, 2016 at 9:52 am #

        I've been puzzled by those "revelations" myself, deep thoughts or deep throat? No idea. Unusual information nevertheless.

      • michal March 8, 2016 at 11:34 am #

        All right then, I checked the first statement. Indeed Firefox retrieves username and email address at startup. But why!?

      • Tom Hawack March 8, 2016 at 11:57 am #

        @michal, I guess the email address is retrieved from the Registry at :
        HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\UnreadMail

        But, pardon my ignorance, to what does "username" correspond to?

      • gh March 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

        Real? I've been a frequent commenter here. I expect that Martin, as admin, can see my (same) IP address for each of my posts. So yeah, real, as in "the same grumpy old 'gh' who posted last week, last year"

        The relevant code is available online here:
        https://dxr.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/source/toolkit/components/startup/nsUserInfoWin.cpp
        (note: sibling nsUserInfo classes also exist for Mac and for Linux)
        This has been present in the codebase since "way back when" (ff v1.0 or v3?)

        What is does:
        Each time firefox is launched, the "web browser" goes to great length in attempting to slurp the user's O/S login (UAC) account details. Account details are those you supplied when creating a windows user login account and you (or your manager, or IT staff) filled in "username", "real name", "department", "email address"

        To understand what nsUserInfoWin is capable of "slurping" via this call:
        GetUserNameExW(NameDisplay, fullName, &size)
        see these reference docs:
        http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa370654(v=vs.85).aspx
        http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa371337(v=vs.85).aspx
        NameDisplay A "friendly" display name (for example, Jeff Smith).

        TL;DR excerpt from the above:
        typedef struct _USER_INFO_2 {
        LPWSTR usri2_name;
        LPWSTR usri2_password;
        DWORD usri2_password_age;
        DWORD usri2_priv;
        LPWSTR usri2_home_dir;
        LPWSTR usri2_comment;
        DWORD usri2_flags;
        LPWSTR usri2_script_path;
        DWORD usri2_auth_flags;
        LPWSTR usri2_full_name;
        LPWSTR usri2_usr_comment;

        Separately, at startup the nsUserInfoWin (or the analagous Mac or Linux 'flavor')
        scrapes environment / login /network info from the O/S.

        const DWORD level = 2;
        . . .
        NetUserGetInfo(nullptr, username, level, &info);

        =========================

        "plausible deniability" for the presence of this behavior:
        ff shares codebase with thunderbird and someone thought it would be kewl for the app to already "know"
        the user's name and autopopulate a form field when TB user creates a new mail account.

        The netinfo slurping? Ten spins of plausible deniability for that...

        =========================

        The reaction in PM forum was something like
        "poohpooh, it's harmless... the function only returns a string value"

        Hello?!? An f'ing web browser has no business sniffing my UAC details, dammit!

        Oh, and that "justa string value", firefox assigns it to a global (constant) and holds it in memory throughout each browsing session. Poohpooh rhetorical questions like "Who can access it? Where is it ever exposed?" are non sequitors.

        Considering that "all this" is performed during each startup, it's unreasonable to expect (trust) that operations silently performed by MaintenanceService will respect your privacy.

    • joe March 12, 2016 at 12:14 am #

      Thank you for posting this info. I was unaware of it. Do you know of any firefox builds that are compiled without this code?
      And just to comment on mozilla... After seeing how they treated Brenden Eich - co-founder of mozilla and also the main creator of javascript, I knew they would sell out the end user to whatever extent they thought they could get away with. In other words, if they treat one of their own like trash, they'll do the same to us. It is just common sense.

  21. beerpatzer March 8, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    I kind of like Australis and disabled the Pocket and the New Tab. I see myself using Firefox for a long time to go, mainly because of its "about:config" and tons of extensions.

  22. Jack Alexander March 8, 2016 at 4:52 am #

    I've been a beta tester for some time, and have used FX almost since the first version. With the release FX 45 many of my add-ons were disabled. On the last (continuing) crash report I made it clear that I was uninstalling 45 and installing 44.0.2 and would not be advancing further past this point with their now seriously over-bloated product. I made it clear that I choose which add-ons would be in my browser and that I have absolutely no use for the forced extensions 'Hello' and 'Pocket' and would not accept any more add-ons forced on me.

    I'm a fan of Palemoon and can't wait for the developer to get past that browser still identifying itsef as FX 29.4. I still use it on my Linux machine...

    End of rant. Keep up with the good work Martin!

  23. Owl March 8, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    It's still the best browser out. I use portable Pale Moon, but, as was mentioned above, it only supports about one third of my addons. There is about:config and there are addons. Beats a proprietary browser any day.What if there were no FF? Seriously, look at what it does have compared to the others.

  24. C March 8, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    My problem is that they once went from a fast stable, innovative browser into a slower, buggier Chrome.

    • gh March 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      Is your observation based on an apples-to-apples comparison? Bone stock browsers, without any extensions installed?

  25. Clas March 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

    Martin, another yak-inducing post...hahhah...i love it. Firefox was sooo good some time ago. i used it forever. then it got ugly and it seemed they just stopped listening to users so i looked for alternatives...not many impressed me. then Palemoon and i was hooked. imported all my bookmarks, set some preferences, brought in the addons i wanted which all work great, then got the appearance right for me. its worked perfectly since on both win7 and linux mint. never a blue-screen or hang. i run sandboxed all the time and palemoon seems secure enough and stable enough and doesnt introduce new features constantly or remove ones that i like. the forum actually answers questions and helps with problems some have. But each to his own...all i know is i dont fight with my browser each month, i just relax with it and enjoy.

  26. Roman Podolyan March 8, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    I think the last Firefox release I definitely benefited from was Firefox 3 . Because it _did the same things that Firefox 2 was capable of, but faster_ . That is the only thing I wanted ever from every browser: be capable what Firefox 2 was doing (including supporting set of add-ons, like Tabmix Plus and Session manager), but do it as faster as it could be run, and use less memory.

    Thus, since 2010 I think there was nothing what Mozilla did and I really needed. I work with more or less the same set of add-ons, and I look at what Mozilla does as at waste of resources in creating some "eye candy" users do not really benefit from.

    For a couple of years I used Pale Moon, not Firefox. Had to go back because of some Pale Moon add-ons problems. Had to switch to Firefox ESR recently because of darn Mozilla mandatory "add-on signing" decision. For 3 years or more I use about:blank as start page as it uses less resources than other options.

    For now I still run Firefox, but I'm disturbed with Mozilla plans and I'm thinking about other options which I may use if their Chrome obsession will make Firefox to hog as much memory on many tabs as Chrome does. I hope some fork will emerge, or Pale Moon again become my browser of choice.

  27. Jack Alexander March 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

    @Owl: I've recommended on the Palemoon forum that to find your preferred add-ons Google for your extension and add 'old versions' at the end of your query. Hope that helps...jack

  28. PhoneyVirus March 9, 2016 at 3:14 am #

    Mozilla Firefox is starting to feel like a operating system, when your making love to the about:config all the time. Disabling Telemetry Pings, Pocket and not to mention Multi-process Mozilla plans to introduce. I can't see myself using Google or Microsoft's Browsers anytime soon, but C'mon how much more can we as users put up with from Mozilla before we nuke them from orbit!

  29. Owl March 9, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    @Jack Alexander: Thanks ! :)

  30. doesnt matter March 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    Mozilla should push the "Amazon Smile" option for revenue enhancement without sullying their reputation even further.
    It isn't much from each person but there are a whole bunch of people.
    https://org.amazon.com/

    • gh March 10, 2016 at 6:17 am #

      That's a great idea!

  31. Doc March 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

    "Lets start with the Pocket integration.."

    *Let's* - it is a contraction of "let us," Martin.

  32. Earl March 13, 2016 at 1:13 am #

    Dear Mozilla,

    I like Australis as well as I've liked any previous default theme. In other words, it's fairly irrelevant. I've created many incarnations of the "default" theme since (as well as before) Fx29 was released--some of them look clearly like Australis (slightly modified), and some of them don't (to the untrained eye [aka "typical user"]). I won't tell you what I think of users who have left off using Firefox and gone to some other browser because of Australis; such impolite language would be improper here.

    As far as ads on the New Tab page go... I don't care. I have no need to ever see that page. No one does unless they choose to. If you can make any money from putting ads there, then whoop-dee-do.

    Now, you keep mentioning "Firefox users this" and "Firefox users that". Well, I don't think we know any of the same Firefox users. You seem to think that your "stats" actually tell you something about what "Firefox users" want, and you adjust your "UX" accordingly. You don't seem to be paying any attention to the dwindling community of Firefox users and developers that are the result of your changes and your plans for more changes. There was one thing that we as users counted on from Mozilla: that we had some essential control over how we wanted Firefox to look and to work. Little by little you've been removing that user control and plan to remove more, to the point where we'll have none. If we wanted to be using Chrome, then we already would have left. Either way, Chrome will never be my browser of choice. I don't know yet what's going to replace Firefox for me--SeaMonkey for a brief while (till you make that impossible to tolerate, no doubt). I hate to tell you this, but where you think you're going with Firefox is not where you're going. Your path leads nowhere... to oblivion. I'll miss the old Firefox, but not what you've made of it with your impending plans. Best of luck on your next jobs, though--you'll need it.

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