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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 

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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Firefox' codec support is irrelevant
By Guspaz on 5/11/2010 12:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
In the end, it doesn't matter if Firefox does or doesn't support h.264. Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome are all supporting h.264. Together, these represent at least two thirds of the market. Google also has significant leverage in YouTube. IE/Chrome/Safari supporting h.264 alone should be enough to secure the win. If that's not enough, Google switching YouTube entirely to h.264/HTML5 would force Mozilla to choose between adding some mechanism for support (be it via plugin or relying on OS support), or dying off.

RE: Firefox' codec support is irrelevant
By adiposity on 5/11/2010 12:59:08 PM , Rating: 5
I disagree. While it certainly is significant that 2/3 of the market will support h.264, it is hardly irrelevant that the second most popular browser will not. Most websites now try to be Firefox compatible whereas years ago they did not. As Firefox's popularity grew, more and more "big" sites explicitly supported it.

You think they are going to dump Firefox support when it comes to video, and risk alienating (arguably) the most tech-savvy browser users out there?

I don't know the answer, but ignore 1/3 of the web users at your peril.

In the future, chrome may knock out Firefox (I know it's getting close to being good enough to switch for me). But we will still have to deal with Firefox loyalties for a long time.

By icanhascpu on 5/18/2010 2:13:54 AM , Rating: 2
Ive been a FF/Mozilla/Netscape user for 15 years now, and Chrome is actually gaining footing. -nothing- else has yet and its because of what I have been ranting about for ages

extensions extensions extensions

Chrome has a very good smooth scroll now (a couple in fact), Pinning of tabs, adblock, etc. It desperately needs to refile its (very good base) UI (seperation bars in bookmarks please?) but other than that its becoming a well hammered forged browser.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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