Firefox users who have went along with the update process from Firefox 4 to now Firefox 6 stable were in for a big disappointment as the new versions were not really offering any new features or visible speed improvements.
That's without doubt one of the issues that led to criticism of the rapid release process. Good news is; Mozilla has a lot in store for Firefox users. Firefox Beta, Aurora and Nightly users have already had the chance to experience some of those new features and improvements.
With this guide, I would like to take a look at the features that Mozillaplans to add to future versions of Firefox. I'm concentrating solely on features that will make a big difference in day to day activities in the browser.
Reset Firefox (Release Target: Firefox 9)
Many Firefox users reinstall the web browser when they experience issues like crashes that they cannot fix. The reinstallation however does not fix issues that are user profile related. And creating new profiles in the browser is something that the majority of Firefox users is unfamiliar with. This is mostly due to the complicated technical way of performing that task and that the option is not available as part of the interface but only accessible through startup parameters.
The Reset Firefox feature would automatically create a new Firefox user profile and migrate the user's data, including bookmarks, history and passwords.
Third-Party Add-On Warnings (Released: Firefox 8)
One of the frustrating experiences as a Firefox user is the inability to block third party add-on and plugin installations. Mozilla tackled half the problem in Firefox 8 by blocking automatic third party add-on installations in the web browser. Users now have the option to accept or deny installation of those add-ons. The feature is integrated in Firefox 8. See Firefox To Get Better Third Party Add-On Security
This falls directly in line with the feature to uninstall third party add-ons in the browser which can only be disabled but not uninstalled in the browser. There is no projected release version of Firefox yet for that feature.
Improve Responsiveness with Memory Reductions
Firefox especially over long sessions may see memory usage grows and as a result of that responsiveness issues. Mozilla is working on improving memory usage over long sessions. It is currently unclear when the improvement will make its way into Firefox.
Opt-In Plugin Activation
Plugins install automatically in the web browser currently. The user has options to block plugins only after they have been recognized by the browser. Some advanced configuration settings are available to block specific plugin locations from being scanned by Firefox. This is highly technical and still not as effective as it should be.
Mozilla plans to give the user a say before plugins are activated in the web browser. A whitelist will be used for the most common plugins.
64-bit Firefox for Windows 7 / Vista
64-bit support for Windows 7 and Vista is long overdue. The developers are finally starting to make progress in this regard, and it is likely that we will see 64-bit versions of Firefox for Windows regularly in the near future.
Mozilla Network Installer (Release Target: Firefox 9)
A lightweight, localized installer for Windows and OXS that allows a user to "select Mozilla applications and/or related components which are then downloaded in the background and installed".
- Installation of default versions of Mozilla products (Firefox, Thunderbird)
- Installation of default versions of Mozilla products plus authorized addon(s) (combinations of extensions, search plugins, themes, and/or personas)
- Installation of default versions of Mozilla products bundled with authorized, secondary installer(s) (e.g. Network installer functions as a meta installer)
- Installation of authorized, customized versions of Mozilla products (e.g. product plus contents of distribution directory, with option for secondary installer(s))
Display add-on performance information (Release Target: Firefox 9)
This feature appears to be much like Microsoft's Internet Explorer feature that notifies users about add-ons that slow down the browser.
Web Developer Tools
Web developers will get several new tools and features that will make their work more comfortable. This includes a Style Inspector to view CSS rules applied to a specific element on a web page, a Highlighter that highlights elements on a page, a Style Editor to see CSS changes applied immediately to the page or a Style Doctor feature which the developers intent to answer the "why doesn't this look the way I expected it to?" question.
Mozilla has a lot in store for Firefox users over the coming release cycles. Some features are really improving the user experience, like the ability to block add-ons and plugins before they make their way into the web browser. Interested users can take a look at the Features listing over at Mozilla Wiki for an extended list of upcoming features.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.