A mini-tempest has been raging across the web with anger at Mozilla for removing the RSS icon from the Firefox 4 toolbar by default (and moving it to the bookmarks menu). This has been going on for a couple of weeks now, and I had avoided writing about it on OSNews since the recent furore is often cited to have begun around a personal blog post I wrote, but now things have come to an impasse: "No matter how loudly you shout, what you see in the beta with regard to the feed auto-discovery button is what will ship in Firefox 4". When Mozilla can say they are open to input, but refuse to change in the face of near universal disagreement, we all lose, not just me.
Mozilla, Gecko Archive
Yesterday, the ninth Firefox 4.0 beta was released. One of the major new features in Firefox 4.0 is hardware acceleration for anything from canvas drawing to video rendering. Sadly, this feature won't make its way to the Linux version of Firefox 4.0. The reason? X' drivers are "disastrously buggy". Update: Benoit Jacob informed my via email that there's some important nuance: hardware acceleration (OpenGL only) on Linux has been implemented, but due to bugs and issues, only one driver so far has been whitelisted (the proprietary NVIDIA driver).
Both Apple and Microsoft are betting on H264 for HTML5 video, while Firefox and Opera focus on WebM and Chrome does both. Microsoft, however, is kind of an oddball; they first stated they would limit HTML5 video support in Internet Explorer 9 to H264, excluding all other codecs, but later made an exception for WebM, as long as the user installs the WebM codec. Now there's a new move by Microsoft: a Firefox plugin that allows the browser to hook into Windows 7's native video framework to provide H264 support.
"Mozilla has pushed back the planned release of Firefox to sometime in 'early 2011'. Previously, the open source outfit had said its latest desktop browser would be officially released next month."
For its upcoming Firefox 4.0 release, Mozilla has been concentrating a great deal on what is often cited as the main shortcoming of Firefox ... its speed. For example, Firefox 4.0 will include GPU acceleration for both rendering and compositing on Windows 7/Vista, OSX and Linux, and it will have GPU acceleration for compositing only for Windows XP.
"Mozilla has announced a new alpha release of its Fennec mobile browser for Android and the Nokia N900. Fennec offers support for add-ons and has tight integration with Firefox Sync, a browser synchronization service that was formerly called Weave. The support for Firefox Sync is arguably Fennec's killer feature, especially because Mozilla is planing to include the synchronization features out-of-the-box in Firefox 4. Users will be able to have access to the their bookmarks, browsing history, and tabs across all of their computers and supported mobile devices."
Today, Mozilla released the fourth beta of Firefox 4.0. After a period of what I would call stagnation, the Mozilla team are back on track with delivering interesting UI concepts. They were sensible enough to copy Chrome's excellent tabs-on-top UI, but have now also added something called Panorama, a new and very interesting way of managing your open tabs.
Firefox 4 Beta (version 1) considered to be stable and safe to use for daily web browsing, though the features and content may change before the final product release.
The Firefox team invited users to install a test addon, which measured which UI elements they use, and recorded their frequency. In no big surprise, the back and reload buttons were used most frequently. Learning about the popularity of the lesser-used buttons should help the Firefox team set their product development priorities.
WebM support has been added to Firefox trunk. "Today I landed Firefox's WebM support on mozilla-central, our Firefox development branch. It should appear in nightly builds from tonight onwards. Firefox should build with WebM support without needing any extra changes to your build configuration, unless you're building on Win32, where you'll need to have MASM installed in order to compile libvpx's optimized assembly."
"Mainstream microprocessors have been 64-bit for years. Operating systems have followed suit. Now it's time for a program used by hundreds of millions of people to make the leap: Firefox. Programmer Armen Zambrano Gasparnian announced the first 64-bit Firefox builds for Windows on Friday, offering an FTP site for those who want to download it. But the software isn't for mainstream users yet."
As most of you probably know, Apple does not allow competing browsers into the App Store. As such, browser makers are forced to come up with inventive solutions to still get their name out there among iPhone users, and after Opera's successful attempt, Mozilla is going to take a stab at it too. Their solution is different, but no less interesting - especially if you're already a Firefox user.
"For many users of Mozilla's open source Firefox Web browser, Firefox is simply a tool for looking at Web content. For others, Firefox is an enabling tool to actually help develop content and code for the Web. This week, Mozilla released the results of a developer survey it conducted in November 2009. The survey received responses from 5054 developers spread across 119 countries and provides some insights into how developers work with Firefox - and what about Firefox makes it so critical as a tool for developing."
It has long been known that in addition to the N900 port of Firefox (released just 49 days ago) Mozilla have been targeting Windows Mobile, drawing ever nearer to a release. They have now decided to put the port on hold, following the news of Windows Phone 7 Series at MIX (and what that holds for Windows Mobile 6.5). "While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications. Because of this, we won't be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time. Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don't know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold."
All Mozilla projects (the major ones at least, I didn't check them all up) are licensed under the Mozilla Public License, version 1.1. It's already over a decade old, and the Mozilla Foundation believes it is time to overhaul the license, with a focus on modernising what they believe to be outdated wording.