If you are a regular here on the site you know what Australis is. It is a visual refresh of the Firefox web browser, and while that sounds like a good idea, it has consequences in regards to functionality.
As things stand now, Australis will be launched in Firefox 28, which will be released to the stable channel of the web browser on 4.3.2014. There is still at least one blocking bug at the time of writing, which means that it is still possible that Australis will be postponed once again by Mozilla if the bug cannot be resolved in time.
So what is going to happen when Australis launches?
Regular Firefox users, those on the stable channel, will be updated automatically to Australis when Firefox 28 gets released. While some users may block automatic updates from happening because of Australis, it is likely that the majority will get the update when it is released.
Firefox ESR users won't get the update in March. They will get the update when the jump to ESR 32 is being made which means that those users won't experience the new design for another 4 release cycles.
Some users on Firefox 28 will like the visual refresh of the browser. Especially those not impacted by any of the changes will. If you do not use the add-on bar, have tabs on top, do not use custom toolbars, and do not move browser UI elements around, then there is little to worry about.
Some Firefox users will notice that a feature that they have been using is not available anymore. Maybe it is a custom toolbar that is no longer working, the fact that all add-on icons that were placed in the add-on bar are not cramping up the main toolbar, that tabs have been forcefully moved to the top, or that interface elements cannot be moved anymore or are restricted in this regard.
Those users will be very vocal about the change. They will criticize and vent on blogs, sites like Reddit and social networking sites, and it is very likely that this will paint Mozilla and Firefox in a bad picture.
Companies get criticized a lot for much smaller changes, and Australis is major in comparison. It is not just one element that got changed, but an overhaul of the browser's complete user interface.
If you look back at how Firefox 4 was perceived at the time, you will notice that the situation was similar to what is in store with Australis. There is one core difference though, and that is add-on compatibility. While Firefox 4 changed things around a lot, Australis won't have a similar impact on add-on compatibility.
So what are users going to do who do not like Australis?
It is still possible to use add-ons to customize Firefox in a way so that functionality that was changed or removed by Australis will get restored in the browser. While that means putting all chips on third party extensions, and hoping that the authors of such extension won't stop updating them, it is probably the best option for many Firefox users who love the browser but do not like Mozilla's design decisions.
It will be very interesting to see how Firefox users will perceive the Australis update, considering that Mozilla seems to think that most users will like it a lot.
What you can be sure of is that I'll do my best to review all the options that you have to mitigate any changes that Australis makes to the web browser.
Have you made up your mind yet what you will do when Australis comes along?
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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.