Firefox developers outline next version
The obvious change here, as seen at right, is a streamlined interface with a thinner frame around each page that catches up to one of Chrome's advantages. As in Google's open-source browser, Firefox 4's address bar and back and forward buttons will appear underneath the tab icon representing each page open in the browser instead of occupying a separate floor above a row of tabs.
Firefox 4's developers--both employees of Mozilla and unaffiliated programmers elsewhere--also aim to improve Firefox's performance. Chrome can be notably faster than Firefox, which helps explain its growing popularity relative to its older competitor. And Firefox 4 will feature rewritten dialogs and screens to ease controlling the behavior of individual Web sites and maintaining browser add-ons. (An intermediate release due soon, Firefox 3.6.4, will run some plug-ins as separate software processes, which should help to stop them from bogging down or crashing the entire browser.)
But Firefox 4 may not get Web users much closer to a standard video format that could replace Adobe's Flash. Although Chrome, Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer incorporate a commercial standard called H.264, Firefox 4 will instead support the free, open Ogg Theora format. (Chrome can play Theora, too, but Apple and Microsoft have unambiguously sided with H.264; the latter's support alone will make life difficult for Theora.)
What's your read on the Firefox developers' course? And--bearing in mind that most pages in Beltzner's presentation bear the warning "PLANS MIGHT CHANGE (please don't overreport)"--what do you think of the rest of this outline of Firefox 4?
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