What's New in Firefox?

Category: Browsers

Firefox 11 was officially released on March 13, 2012. It's the third major update of the browser since December. If you haven't bothered to update Firefox lately, here is what you've missed...

Is Your Firefox Browser Up to Date?

In the past, Firefox releases were usually a year or more apart, and when a new version became available, the masses cheered and danced in the streets with reckless abandon. But last June, starting with Firefox 5, Mozilla decided to switch things up with an every-six-weeks release cycle. Here is a summary of what's new in the most recent versions of Firefox:

Firefox 9 added Type Inference, a feature that improves Javascript performance and allows Web pages to load up to 30 per cent faster. The Mac OS X Lion version of Firefox gained improved theme integration and two-finger swipe navigation for touch screens. Several stability issues were fixed, and support increased for HTML5, MathML, and CSS.

Firefox 10, released in January, saw improvements mainly aimed at Web developers. One user-oriented change of significance was the "disappearance" of the Forward button on the main menu bar. It's still there, but it appears only after the Back button has been pressed; until then, there is no page to which one can page Forward. (Oddly, the Forward button does not appear when the preference for small toolbar icons is set.)
Firefox 11 Browser

Firefox 10 also addresses add-on compatibility in two ways. All add-ons that are compatible with Firefox 4 will be left enabled by Firefox 10. No longer will your favorite add-ons become unavailable until their developers update them for the latest Firefox version. Second, Firefox 10 added daily checks for add-on updates.

The full-screen API is supported by Firefox 10 and later versions. This feature of HTML5 allows developers to specify that a Web page should take up the full screen. You may have seen applications of the full-screen API in video streaming and gaming sites.

Firefox 11, the latest version, adds the ability to sync your collection of add-ons across multiple devices and operating systems. So when you add a cool new add-on to your desktop Firefox browser, you can be sure it will show up on your laptop, and the Android smartphone's Firefox browser the next time you use it. Any custom settings you've made are also synced. Additionally, Firefox 11 can import bookmarks, history lists, and other data from Chrome. Touché, Mr. Google.

Speaking of Google Chrome, you might want to check out my related articles Is Chrome the Best Browser? and Ten Awesome Chrome Browser Addons. I'm currently using both Firefox and Chrome on my dual screen setup, and it's working well.

Version Fatigue?

Generally, I like to see software advance at a rapid rate, with bug fixes and anxiously awaited new features coming sooner. But there have been a few problems with this strategy.

First, since people have been conditioned to expect new browser versions only once a year or so, they tend to treat these rapidly released "major versions" as minor updates. We tire of installing new software every few months, and are wary of having to learn a new user interface. We worry that a new release may contain bugs that will bite us. It's always been my advice to tell people to wait a month or two before installing a new browser version, so that the inevitable bugs can be addressed by the developers. But with new releases every six weeks, this strategy doesn't work.

Another issue is that Firefox has always assumed that your add-ons from one version will be incompatible with the new version. I can't tell you how many times I hesitated to upgrade to a new version of Firefox because it would always disable my Roboform add-on, and I'd have to wait days or weeks before my password manager was updated to work with the new browser. But as I mentioned above, starting with Firefox V10, this has changed. Add-ons are now considered compatible with new versions by default, so this problem is largely solved. Why "largely"? Well, of course there are a few exceptions to every rule. My LogMein add-on for Firefox is one of those, which got flagged by both Firefox 10 and 11 upgrades.

It may seem that you haven't missed much by neglecting to update Firefox during the past four months. True, there have not been any game-changing enhancements, but there have been hundreds of invisible bug fixes, security updates, and tweaks that improve the browser's overall performance. If you have not updated Firefox regularly, you should try to catch up. It's easy.

Just click on the Help tab on Firefox's main menu. On the drop-down menu, click "About Firefox" to open that information window and check for updates. If a later version of Firefox is available, it will start downloading automatically. And you can always go to GetFirefox.com to download the latest version.

Are you still using Firefox 3? Got something to say about Firefox? Wanna brag about YOUR favorite browser? Go ahead, post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 15 Mar 2012


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Most recent comments on "What's New in Firefox?"

Posted by:

William Pettinger
15 Mar 2012

Just commenting for the prize.


Posted by:

VOXPOP
15 Mar 2012

Just installed v11. Too soon to tell if I like it or not but MAZELTOV on your birthday..wishing you many more and thanks for being there for us who are wandering aimlessly in the computer miasma.


Posted by:

Al Rabold
15 Mar 2012

Nobody in my family wants to learn to organize or maintain a computer but me hence all of our computers log on via the same user, me, and look, act and are maintained alike.

That said, we really love SeaMonkey because its core is very "Firefox" but it allows us all to have separate internet logons and separate email accounts with the added benefit of not having to open Outlook, Thunderbird or other email software.

Why they were separated from the original Netscape Suite beats me!


Posted by:

Joe
15 Mar 2012

I have been using Firefox as my main browser for several years. Currently have version 10.0.2. My major problem has been the compatibility of add- ons.

I downloaded a new version once and then went back to the earlier version because my favorite add-on was not compatible with the new version.


Posted by:

Don Mac
15 Mar 2012

I miss Google toolbar. It hasn't been available on Firefox for quite a while. I am hoping that one of these updates will make it available. I now have version 10.0.02.


Posted by:

Rich
15 Mar 2012

I have really liked FF up till the last couple of months. FF seems to take forever to load a page now and other times it just won't load at all. I have looked everywhere for an answer but have had no luck. Mozilla has never answered my email questions and It seems to be a problem for other users also.


Posted by:

Jeri
15 Mar 2012

It made me angry that my paid for version of Roboform was not compatible with Firefox 10. If I wanted to continue using it, I would have to pay again!
Switched to LastPass - I love it.
So Long Roboform.


Posted by:

Wild Bill
15 Mar 2012

I've been using Firefox for several years now and like it much better than IE, it almost never locks up like IE does.

Recently we got a 2nd computer and set up a wireless router for it, and I worked with my cable tech to encrypt/secure it. Everything worked fine until we got a balloon notice on the new computer that it had detected another device on our network. After googling/searching, and pulling my hair trying to figure out if someone was using our signal, I recalled that we had also just bought a new etablet, and it could be picking up that device. But I'd like to know if there is a simpler way to check what all is connected to our wireless signal? Thanks for any help you can give me.

And Happy Birthday to you, it's also my mom's birthday, and we're Irish, so we'll hoist one for you too.


Posted by:

rich-c
16 Mar 2012

At least twice with Firefox and Thunderbird I have clicked on nag screens to close them only to apparently miss by a margins width, immediately setting a most inconvenient and unwanted update in motion. Unwanted? Yes, because at least three times Mozilla has trashed these programs, twice losing all my mail, during updates.

From where I sit once a year is more than often enough - with an update procedure that does not trash the program. (I have since found out about MozBackup but need time to use it before the update starts).

And I am no fan of updates that won't work with my chosen extensions - having half them disabled without notice has won no popularity contests here at all.

I like the Mozilla programs - but the cretin who dumped this six-week policy on us should be taken out and hung.


Posted by:

David Cameron
16 Mar 2012

Personally, I wish FF would slow down and get one version working flawlessly before bouncing around - the upgrades seem to sneak themselves in


AS to chrome - I am not sure I trust Google any more than I trust our boys from Chicago


Posted by:

Ralph
16 Mar 2012

I hesitate to upgrade FF as I went from 6 to 10 recently, and Gmail would not load properly. It loaded and I could read mail, but I could not "compose" new mail, the compose button was obscured by a line that ran through it. Uninstalled and went back to v.6 and all was OK. I am not prepared to go through this nonsense again. I will try once more down the road, but if it happens again, I'll either stick with v.6 or switch to Chrome, never IE though.


Posted by:

Charles
16 Mar 2012

I downloaded Firefox Ver 4 from Ver 3.6 and immediately my PC started freezing at random moments. I deleted and later installed Ver 5. No change. I hired a tech who worked for 2 hours and told me the problem had nothing to do with Firefox. It still crashes and in fact is becoming more frequent and irritating. It does not happen when I use either Google or Internet Explorer so I have quit using Firefox. I have Ver 10 installed and am thinking of deleting it permanently.


Posted by:

Kenny
16 Mar 2012

I like getting updates every 6 weeks. Esp. because there's always improvement. I have a lot of add-ons and they all work with ver 11. I've noticed sometimes it requires me to reload an add-on after an update, but otherwise it works great. Go Mozilla!


Posted by:

Donna
16 Mar 2012

Just wanting to wish you a very Happy Birthday, and many, many, more. I hope you have a GREAT day! :)


Posted by:

Bob
17 Mar 2012

I'm still using FF 8.01. If it ain't broke, I usually don't fix it. I have auto-updates for FF turned off.

As others have commented, I tired over the years reinstalling my add-ons with each newer version, or having to hunt for similar functioning ones.

Yes, I depend on you, Bob (as do many others), for your straight words as to what each new version of some software does/adds/improves. Thanks for that 'cause right now I don't recognize much in FF 11, or versions past 8, that are of any significant use to me.


Posted by:

Jack
18 Mar 2012

I'm fed up with Firefox's incompatibility with my
existing programs! When I lost PDF Converter with the last upgrade I tried Firefox's instructions to get it back. Didn't work! I've uninstalled Firefox & re-installed PDF Converter, still un-useable. Never again Firefox!


Posted by:

Bill Schneider
18 Mar 2012

First -- A Happy Birthday to you.....

Bob, I hate to have to use this approach --- but I simply can't get your 'birthday book' ! I really would like a copy. I must be missing something.

All that I can get (and read) is the 'sample pages' of your software book; not the full book.

I even download/installed 'Kindle for PC' to my system. Runs fine etc.

I'm running out of time . And, it's late on 3/19 too. !

If you see this in time, I would surely appreciate some guidance tips. Meanwhile I will continue trying.

Anyway - I do look forward to your weekly issues(s). I have been a reader for years -- from the days of your older newsletters (with your partner back then).

Many, many thanks,

Bill



Posted by:

Brian S.
20 Mar 2012

To David Cameron, There is an alternate to Google Chrome: Comodo Dragon. It's based on the Chromium engine but built by Comodo which is famous for their firewall. They claim it is more secure than Chrome. I've tried it, it's ok, but I am an avid Opera fan and find myself always returning to it. Here's the link: http://www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/browser.php


Posted by:

Mike R.
03 Apr 2012

Anyone knows how to add a second toolbar to my FF-v11 ??? I had that feature working perfect with FF-v10.


Posted by:

Dave Wingrove
16 Oct 2012

I had and liked Firefox until Babylon infected it and all other browsers.
Able to remove from Chrome, Seamonkey, IE 8.
Firefox resisted, removed, reinstalled older versions, still Babylon, no matter how it was removed it returned on start up, so Firefox removed never to be installed again.


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