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The new interface prompts the user with certain questions after install, to set up security preferences.  (Source: Mozilla)

It'll be easier to manage lots of tabs in the new interface, and the interface now allows new "app tabs" for web applications like Gmail (see bottom right).  (Source: Mozilla)
Fans get an early peak at the company's plans

Those waiting for Firefox 4, the upcoming latest and greatest browser from Mozilla, might not have to wait long.  Speaking at Air Mozilla today, Mike Beltzner announced that Firefox 3.7 will become 4.0.  The first alpha build of 3.7 was released on February 10.

With the switch, Mozilla will likely be much more able to meet its goal to release Firefox 4 in Q4 2010.

The biggest improvements coming in 3.7/4.0 is the Gecko 1.9.3 layout engine, which should bring improved support for new standards such as HTML5 and CSS3.  In the vision outlined in a blog post corresponding with his announcement, Beltzner says the Firefox 4 will be "Powerful: enabling new open, standard Web technologies (HTML5 and 
beyond!)."

He also says that the new browser will be much faster – "super-
duper fast", to be precise.  The biggest speed improvement is the new JägerMonkey JavaScript engine, which speeds up repetitive scripts.  Other speed improvements include 64-bit support, a streamlined main thread, and DOM improvements.

Firefox 4.0 will bring a new look to the browser with overhauled UIs across all platforms -- Windows, Linux, and OS X.  Beltzner writes that the new layer will grant users "
full control of their browser, data, and Web experience."  Among the UI improvements are an overhauled tab interface that allows hundreds of tabs to be easily managed, and allows new web app tabs.  The new UI also prompts the user with security questions earlier, so they don't have to ask as many questions later on.

A final important point to note is that with Firefox 4.0, Mozilla will be the lone player pushing a very different and truly open implementation of HTML5.  Apple and Google both support HTML5, but they both have thrown their weight behind h.264, a proprietary video codec.  Opera and Internet Explorer (sans Chrome frame) don't yet have working HTML 5 implementations that can be used with the handful of HTML5 sites out there (like the YouTube HTML 5 beta).  Microsoft's early preview build of Internet Explorer 9 uses h.264 as well.

That leaves Mozilla as the only promoter of a truly open HTML5.  Mozilla is promoting Ogg Theora, a free codec.  In fact Mozilla put up a slide presentation about Firefox 4.0 that should be available in your Firefox 3.6 browser.  The video of the slide presentation can be found here.

Beltzner gives a bit of a dig, stating, "If you have Firefox or a modern web browser that supports fully open HTML video, you can watch the presentation."

Mozilla looks to be headed in the right direction with Firefox 4.0; it should be exciting to watch the product mature through the beta phase.



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No h.264?!
By danobrega on 5/11/2010 10:56:19 AM , Rating: -1
With so many hardware h.264 decoding implementations, not including support for this codec is a major mistake.




RE: No h.264?!
By Integral9 on 5/11/2010 11:17:56 AM , Rating: 2
umm... it's a web browser, not a media player.


RE: No h.264?!
By jhtrico1850 on 5/11/2010 11:24:57 AM , Rating: 3
What is Youtube?


RE: No h.264?!
By Integral9 on 5/11/2010 11:52:11 AM , Rating: 2
Youtube is a website with a collection of videos that you can't play w/out Flash or WMP. The videos are played in a flash player or WMP inside of the browser. The browser just calls the app associated w/ the content via plugin to play the content.


RE: No h.264?!
By B3an on 5/11/2010 10:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, he clearly meant that the video will still be GPU accelerated, it does not matter if the h.264 video is in a browser or media player.

And i'm all for open standards, if they are actually better... but h.264 offers way better compression over the alternative, which is an ancient codec as far as codec tech goes.


RE: No h.264?!
By niaaa on 5/11/2010 11:53:18 AM , Rating: 2
a media!


RE: No h.264?!
By zmatt on 5/11/2010 2:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
Firefox isn't a media player, it's a we browser. media players primary function is to play music and video, a web browser's primary function is to decode and render web pages. Said web pages may have multimedia content on them, but that does not make a web browser a media player.

The only piece of software that falls into your category is songbird. It is a dedicated media player that has web browsing functionality in it.

Also, screw H.264, it's proprietary, and the web if anything is anti proprietary. The entire web culture revolves around open standards and coding in general. Way to go Mozilla, they are doing the right thing here.


RE: No h.264?!
By sprockkets on 5/11/2010 6:40:19 PM , Rating: 2
HTML5 browsers are going to playback media in the browser. That's the entire point: freeing your browser of external plugins or programs like Flash.

In fact, Mozilla can play ogg vorbis already in the browser, which can be found as audio files on wikipedia.org.

If mozilla integrated the mplayer code right into the browser they would have the best playback on the planet. Just not include the libraries that are patented and they are set to go.


RE: No h.264?!
By funkyd99 on 5/11/2010 11:33:12 AM , Rating: 2
Mozilla would have to pay licensing fees to the MPEG-LA if they included a H.264 decoder in Firefox...


RE: No h.264?!
By danobrega on 5/11/2010 11:35:18 AM , Rating: 1
Are you sure? What if they just use the hardware to decode it? Haven't the hardware manufacturers already payed that license?


RE: No h.264?!
By funkyd99 on 5/11/2010 12:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
Older video cards don't support H.264, so you'd still need a software decoder. I believe H.264 codecs are included in Windows and OSX these days, but that still leaves out Linux (see my comments on X264 below.)

In the end, I think this is more of a show of principles on Mozilla's end. The fact is, we don't know what's going to happen to H.264 come 2016. If content providers are forced to pay licensing fees on all their videos, Mozilla can give them a big "I told you so!"


RE: No h.264?!
By jonmcc33 on 5/11/2010 12:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
x264...

I can play H.264 encoded .MOV files without a problem using x264.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X264


RE: No h.264?!
By funkyd99 on 5/11/2010 12:28:06 PM , Rating: 2
X264 is just a different implementation of H.264 though... if a commercial company used X264 to encode and decode video, I'm guessing they'd still have to pay royalties; it's still H.264 video in the end. You can argue that Mozilla is a non-profit organization, but there ARE indirect profits that can be made by browsers (think Google/MS and their search/ad infrastructures.)


RE: No h.264?!
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/11/2010 11:55:57 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
With so many hardware h.264 decoding implementations, not including support for this codec is a major mistake.


I don't think they ever said that they were expressly not supporting h.264. They are PRIMARILY pushing ogg Theora as their web video format, though.

I think the real mistake though would be to do what MS, Google, and Apple are doing -- claim they're freeing customers of a "proprietary format" (Flash), when in reality they are handing them another proprietary format (h.264) in an open source package (HTML5).

That's not only deceptive marketing, it's a step backwards for the web. Standards should be open to public use and modification -- that's the whole idea behind HTML or CSS in the first place!

Ogg Theora is a very competitive format and I think with some time it can be made every bit as good as h.264.

I think Mozilla is showing true leadership here.


RE: No h.264?!
By icanhascpu on 5/11/2010 2:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
I like Ogg Theora too, but they should be pushing both. By the time Theora is as good as h.264, we will have h.265.


RE: No h.264?!
By islseur on 5/11/2010 3:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
+1
You are right about them being deceptive. They used all their weight and pressure to change the initial default recommendation to use Ogg Theora as the standard video format in HTML5. Ogg Theora was chosen because it was not affected by any known patents, is royalty-FREE and a good performer.

Don't you see the footprint of companies like M$oft trying to hold off the increased use of open source and open standards that benefit all of humanity in an attempt to force the people to pay for something royalties that you can get today for FREE!


RE: No h.264?!
By sapiens74 on 5/11/2010 6:48:26 PM , Rating: 1
Jason

You are wrong on this. "Open" doesn't really mean open on most systems. Linux is open but it is not capable of doing things that you could program for a Windows box.

We just want video offloaded to the already built-in codecs we have on our machines, and not leave it up to a plug-in which needs to be supported by one company (abobe).

Flash is the main reason we are still using 32bit browsers on 64 bit systems

That is unacceptable.


RE: No h.264?!
By the goat on 5/12/2010 9:47:50 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Linux is open but it is not capable of doing things that you could program for a Windows box.
. . .
Flash is the main reason we are still using 32bit browsers on 64 bit systems

Weird!? I've been using a 64bit web browser with a 64 bit Flash plugin on Linux for over a year (first released November 2008). And before that I used a 64 bit browser with a 32 bit Flash plugin. How did that happen if Linux is not capable of doing all the things that windows can do?


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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