Firefox 4 Continues to Fall Behind Schedule: Major Delays Expected

Last month, I reported that Mozilla had axed some of the features from Firefox 4, in order to meet its release deadline. The first feature to be dropped was the new Account Manager that had received rave reviews from most users. However, it now appears that, even cutting down on features might not be enough to get Firefox 4 back on schedule.


According to this publicly available schedule, Firefox 4 Beta 7 was supposed to arrive on Sept 17, and Beta 8 was supposed to land on October 1. However, both of these dates have come and gone, without any new Firefox 4 builds being released. Quite obviously, Mozilla also missed its target of achieving code freeze by Oct 15 in preparation of the RC (Release Candidate) release.


There’s still plenty of work left to be done. Just a couple of weeks back, Mozilla reported that it had 17 blockers (bugs that are major enough to prevent the release of a build) to deal with before the next beta release, and as many as 510 blockers to fix before they can move on to the RC stage. This has prompted Softpedia to speculate that Mozilla might not even manage to pull off the release by the end of this year.

Firefox 3.6.11 and 3.5.14 Released

With Firefox 4.0 hogging all the limelight, it’s easy to forget that most of the users are still using stable builds of Firefox 3.5 and 3.6. Earlier today, Mozilla pushed through a recommended security and stability update for both the trunks.


As many as nine vulnerabilities have been fixed in this release, including five critical ones. This update also fixes numerous stability and performance issues – 40 in Firefox 3.6.11 and 23 in Firefox 3.5.14 to be exact. For more information about the fixed vulnerabilities refer to the bugzilla thread for Fx 3.6.11 and 3.5.14.

[ Download Firefox 3.6.11 | Download Firefox 3.5.14 ]

Firefox 4 Beta 5 Adds Hardware Graphics Acceleration, Audio Capabilities and HSTS

Mozilla has just released Beta 5 with faster graphics and audio capabilities for the web. The new features taps into features to allow developers to work better with the browser, adds hardware graphics acceleration and also implements a new security protocol called HTTP Strict Transport Security  (HSTS).

Mozilla has been working pretty hard on 4, with the introduction of the first beta (read FF 4 beta review) in early July adding a new interface and add-ons manager among other things. Firefox has also released more updates for Firefox 4 in the form of Beta 3 which introduced touch-screen support and Beta 4 which added Sync and Firefox Tab Panorama.

With Firefox 4 Beta 5 Mozilla has added a new audio API to expose raw audio embedded between <video> and <audio> elements provided by HTML5 to read and write raw audio data within the browser, think like visualization of the audio with Windows Media player. You can read more about this feature at a Mozilla developers blog post here or watch the video embedded below.

In addition to that, Firefox 4 Beta 5 also takes advantage of the built-in graphics hardware in Windows computers with DirectX 10 to improve graphics performance. Firefox will use Direct2D by default on supported hardware.

Firefox 4 Beta 5 also adds a new protocol called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) which allows websites to insist that Firefox always use secured connections. Firefox 4 will now remember which sites use the HSTS protocol and will always use SSL to pass data through those websites.

Visit the official Mozilla announcement for more information on Firefox 4 Beta 5 and download links.

Mozilla Drops Features From Firefox 4 To Meet Release Deadline

In order to meet the October/November release deadline for Firefox 4, Mozilla has decided to axe some of the new features. The first casualty is the Account Manager feature.


In Mozilla’s Dan Mills’ words, The Account Manager makes it incredibly easy for users to create new accounts with optional randomly generated passwords, and log into and out of them with just a click”. We had previewed an early prototype back in March and had found it to be capable of dramatically simplifying how users connect to websites.

Mozilla is aiming for a feature freeze by September 10. If Firefox 4 continues to fall behind schedule, then more features might be stripped. The prime candidates for removal are silent updates on Windows, Inspector and Web Console. However, even without some of these features, Firefox 4 will have enough to excite fans. The new version will introduce a brand new skin, tab candy, revamped add-ons manager and more.

Hardware Accelerated Browsing Experience: Chrome 7 vs. Firefox 4 vs. Internet Explorer 9

GPU accelerated browsing experience is the big new feature that all the major browsers are gunning for. The latest builds of Firefox, Chrome, Safari as well as Internet Explorer have this feature enabled. In fact, Opera is the only major browser without hardware acceleration support. Nevertheless, even Opera has hinted that this is something they definitely intend on doing. I won’t be surprised if we soon see a weekly build with hardware accelerated Vega (Opera’s graphics rendering engine).

In the meantime, Sebastian Anthony from DownloadSquad has recreated his earlier Aquarium test to compare the rendering performance of all the three hardware accelerated browsers. Here is the video:

Not surprisingly, Chrome came out on top. Internet Explorer also performed quite well. However, Firefox turned out to be 30% slower. Nevertheless, the bleeding edge speed offered by Chrome came at a cost. It was the most system resource intensive browser. In fact, system resources consumed turned out to have a direct correlation with the rendering speed. The question is, what is more important? Are you willing to opt for a heavier browser, if it provides more speed? Don’t forget to share your opinion with us.

How To Disable Firefox 4 Tab Previews In Windows 7

Mozilla has been doing some really good work with , however, some of the features might not be liked by users, specially the tab preview feature in .

Firefox Tab Previews in Windows 7

If you are using 4 on Windows 7, you can easily disable the tab previews by using a simple trick. The trick involves change some Firefox configuration using about:config.

To disable Tab Preview in Windows 7 for Firefox 4 or other Firefox versions, just type in about:config in your address bar and hit enter. On doing that, you might see some warning message saying that "You may void your warranty!", you need to press the button "I’ll be careful, I promise" to move to the configuration for Firefox.

Disable Firefox Tab Previews in Windows 7

In the Filter textbox, type "taskbar.preview" without the quotes and hit enter. You will see 3 configuration options in the search results. In that right click on the text which says "browser.taskbar.previews.enable" and select the "Toggle" option.

That’s it, once you toggle the value close the about:config page. The settings will be applied without having to restart the browser.

Firefox 4 Beta 4 Adds Sync and Firefox Tab Panorama

Mozilla has released a new beta version of which includes Sync and Panorama Tabs. The new features allow users to sync their settings and create tab sets.

Firefox 4

Firefox 4 Beta 4 has been released for downloads. It adds two big features, namely Firefox Sync, which will allow you to access your bookmarks, history, awesome bar settings, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs across multiple computers and mobile devices. All of this information can also be accessed on your using the Firefox Home app.

Firefox 4 also has a new feature called Firefox Panorama earlier known as Tab Candy, which brings a new approach to tab management. Firefox Panorama makes it easy to organize information allowing you to create tab groups for different tabs and also allowing you to prioritize those tabs any way you want.

Firefox Panorama also allows you to quickly see an overview of al the tabs and to quickly locate and switch between tabs or groups of tabs. You can find more information about Firefox Panorama at this post or watch the embedded video below to see it in action.

There are several other features included in Firefox 4, you can read about them in the Firefox 4 Beta 1 review or browse all content related to Firefox 4. Find more information about Firefox 4 Beta 4 and download it for your OS from the official Mozilla blog.

Firefox 4.0 Beta 3 Introduces Touch Support

Mozilla has just released the third beta release of Firefox 4.0. As discussed in our earlier posts, Firefox 4.0 is a major stepup for the popular open source browser. It introduces a host of new features like WebM video support and improved Windows 7 integration, besides featuring a completely revamped skin.


The latest beta adds touch support on Windows 7. This is a big deal as Windows 7 is expected to be used in several upcoming tablet devices. Firefox 4 now supports multi-touch gestures, which can also be leveraged by touchscreen optimised web applications.

It’s an open secret that Firefox has been struggling to keep up with the likes of Opera and Chrome, when it comes to rendering speed. In fact, even Internet Explorer 9 performs significantly better than Firefox in artificial JavaScript rendering benchmarks. Beta 3 includes a a new way of representing values in JavaScript that should make number crunching more efficient.

[ Download Firefox 4.0 Beta 3 for Windows, Mac and Linux]

Firefox 4 "Heads Up Display" Web Console Adds Debugging Console To The Browser

which was released yesterday has several new and interesting features for developers. One of the features I found interesting was the "Heads Up Display" Web console feature which allows you to debug any website and see errors, info and warnings along with network connections being made by a website.

Firefox 4 Heads Up Display Web Console

To enable the Heads Up Display web console debugger, just press Alt + T and select Heads up Display or you can also use the Ctrl + Shift + K hotkey to activate it.

This is definitely a very interesting features and I would like it to be more advanced in the future versions. Being a developer I use tools like Tamper Data and Firebug to help me out with debugging websites and requests they make. An inbuilt debugger is just an icing on the cake.

Disable/Enable Crash Protection In Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.6

Mozilla has introduced a new feature called "Crash Protection" in Firefox 3.6 and . Crash Protection runs using Out-of-process-plugins, which basically runs the plugins as separate processes from the main Firefox process. This allows Mozilla to recover from plugin crashes without freezing the entire browser.

However, not many users like this new feature and one of commentators recently asked whether it was possible to disable crash protection because it froze the browser. Well the answer is that, yes you can disable crash protection in Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.6, however, you will have to do so manually.

How To Disable Crash protection in Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.6

Step 1: In the browser location bar type "about:config" without the quotes and hit enter or return key.

Step 2: If you are doing this for the first time, you will see a warning saying "You may void your warranty!", you need to press the button "I’ll be careful, I promise" to move to the configuration for Firefox.


Step 3: Once you have clicked the button you will see a lot of strings out there which might not make any sense. Don’t worry about it. In the "Filter" textbox type "plugins" without the quotes and hit enter. The process is slightly different for Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4, follow the appropriate steps given below.


Once you perform the search, right click on the dom.ipc.plugins.enabled string and click "Toggle", you only have to do this if the value for the string is true, if it is false, the Crash Protection is already disabled.

With Firefox 3.6 you will also need to disable Crash protection for Individual items. If you want to disable Crash protection for Individual items, you can use the following mapping and toggle the respective values to false.

  • dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.npctrl.dll (Microsoft Silverlight)
  • dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.npqtplugin.dll (Apple QuickTime)
  • dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.npswf32.dll (Adobe Flash)
  • dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.nptest.dll (NPAPI test plugin)

That’s about it, using the above steps you can disable or enable Crash protection in Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4. Firefox 4 does not have options to individually turn the plugins Crash Protection off yet, but it may be added in the final version.