All versions of the Firefox web browser will be updated to the next major version in the coming 24 hour period. This means that the stable version of the browser, currently at version 32.0.3, will be updated to version 33.
In addition, Firefox Beta, Aurora and Nightly versions will be updated to version 34, 35 and 36 respectively.
It is interesting to note that this Firefox ESR 24.x reaches end of support and that Firefox ESR 31.x will take over from this point onwards.
It is expected that Mozilla will publish all updates on October 14, 2014. The update announcement will be published on the same date and users with automatic updates enabled will receive the new version automatically.
Tip: You can find out which version of the browser you are running by loading about:support in the address bar. There you find the current version listed under Application Basics.
Firefox 33 Download
Many third-party download sites host Firefox 33 before releases and while it may be tempting to download it from those sources, it is possible that this is not the final version of the web browser after all.
There have been incidents in the past where last minute changes resulted in a different build being picked as the official release build.
We have published a download guide for Firefox that explains everything there is to know about that process. Check it out if you are stuck or want direct download links.
Firefox 33 introduces several changes to the browser. Some of the changes are visible on the frontend while others improve the browser in the backend.
Windows Off Main Thread Compositing (OMTC)
This new feature provides a smoother browsing experience while consuming less resources. It would get too technical to get into details only this much: Mozilla moved compositing to a second thread to make the main thread loop more responsive.
You find all details on Benoit Girard's blog post about the new feature.
When you open Firefox 33 for the first time after upgrading the browser or installing it anew, you will notice that the OpenH264 plugin is now included under plugins automatically.
This can be used by the browser to decode and encode H.264 video so that these videos play in the browser now. If you check the HTML5 page on YouTube for instance you will notice that Firefox supports H.264 now which it did not before.
Search Suggestions on about:home and about:newtab
Firefox displays a Google search form on the new tab page and the home page by default (click here for instructions to remove it).
The search has been improved so that it displays suggestions now when you use it on the page.
Location bar search improvements
Mozilla has improved how single-word queries and local query searches are handled in the browser. If you search for a number such as 8676586 for instance, you were previously taken to the .com domain regardless of whether it existed or not.
While you could prevent that by adding a ? in front of the query, this is no longer necessary in Firefox 33 as the browser will search automatically by default and without delay.
A prompt is displayed however that you can use to go to the domain instead if that is where you wanted to go in first place. The result is that single-word queries are displayed much faster now by the browser.
Session restore reliability improvements
Mozilla improved the backup process of Firefox sessions in Firefox 33. The new process introduces new files and locations for session restore data.
In the end, it should make the feature more robust so that it is less likely that session restore won't work (for instance because of corruption or after an upgrade).
Enhanced Tiles did not land in Firefox 33. The feature that populates the new tab page with tiles will land in Firefox 34 instead.
Security updates / fixes
Security updates are published after the release of Firefox. We will add those once they become available.
Additional information / sources
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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.