Firefox 4 is so close I can taste it


Today we've shipped Firefox 4 Beta 10. If you haven't tried a Firefox 4 beta yet, you should definitely give this one a spin. It's pretty amazing.

If you've been tracking our betas, you'll be pleased to hear we've got more than 500 fixes for you since Beta 9 including some huge performance, stability and usability wins. It's our fastest yet. It's more stable than Firefox 3.6. It's polished up to near release-quality in every way.


You are talking about usability wins, where are the fixes for the "little" things then? Like pressing F6 to highlight the URL or double-clicking the application icon (Firefox button) to close the browser on Windows? I can't imagine I'm the only one who gets annoyed by these things missing, since all other relevant browsers get this right and they have been there forever (except in Opera of course)...

i absolutely agree with you Gerrit: missing the F6 highlighting and the double clicking on the application button too. dunno why they had to go...

and you're right - all relevant browsers except Opera...

One more thing: the status bar. My opinion is that removing the status bar is a bad decision, and I'm not alone:
This is the first time firefox really disappoints me. I use nearly since day 1, and otherwise it's the greatest browser. Now I'm not sure I can still recommend it. Sorry...

Yeah, the removal of the status bar absolutely baffles me. Default it off if you want, but leave the "View -> Status Bar" option there so people who like it (i.e. most techies) can get it back.

Asa, I know you have… interesting perspectives on some things, so I’m going to ask this:
Would Mozilla consider a soft‐block on Microsoft’s Windows 7 h264 plug‐in?

I use Firefox at work with firebug and my family is using it too (without firebug !!). I put a nice flower personas for my little girl browsing. Firefox is a browser for the people. Great to hear about the promising next version.

Any news on the new linux theme?

Loving beta 10 so far and fantastic to see "Undo closed tab" working properly again, before it was opening it in a new tab group and I couldn't see a way of getting back to the last tab group without closing it.

My only major gripe now is still the status bar, I can't understand why there's not even an option to restore it or add it to the addon bar. I've been looking down there for 11 years and not about to change now. Also the address bar does not provide enough room for seeing the address of the page I'm on vs one that I'm hovering over, and I always need to hover over a link and see where it's going so that is really irritating me. Hope this is fixed for the final!

Other than that can't wait for the Firefox 4 final next month, great browser.


I certainly hope not. Whilst Mozilla's support of WebM is noble, it would be evil to deny a user the right to use a built-in part of their operating system.

Have you guys fixed the friggin' crash reporter yet?????? I'm using FF 3.6.13 on Win XP and it only says "There was a problem submitting your report." whenever it crashes. Maybe it would be better to just reroute all error messages to dev/null on the mozilla developers machine instead of just wasting the users time with non-functional dialogs. :-(
I am very very frustrated with FF and I've even been looking at switching to the spyware broswer, I mean um Google Chrome but I appreciate the effort you guys are making to improve FF.

I agree that the removal of the status bar is an unfortunate decision. Luckily there is an add-on that solves the problem: Status-4-Evar
My only gripe with this "solution" is that it is difficult to find, and requires unnecessary configuration for the less tech-savvy users.
As someone already said, it should be possible to enable the status bar through a simple menu command.

/ \ .
I was unhappy about the status bar removal too. Ok, I was pissed, baffled, didn't/don't get it, and the majority of comments that I've read around the Internet where in opposition of removing it ("We will not compromise the main line UI to placate an element of the community"), but, it is what it is and despite what I quoted, Firefox isn't and won't be designed by (community) committee (that's also stated somewhere but I couldn't find the reference).

The good news (as Jonas mentioned) is that there's a good solution to the status bar issue and (nearly) all other user complaints.
Every time that we as users come across something that we don't like about Firefox, or the Internet, someone develops an add-on to come to our rescue.
Think about when the Awesome Bar made its debut. When the Properties dialog window was removed, when multiple rows of bookmarks were no longer possible with just a CSS hack, when we got fed up with ads, JS, tracking cookies, and so on.

Firefox itself, is a kick ass product right out of the box. It's a massive luxury for us all to be able to make it look, and function just the way that we want. You can even build your own damn Firefox if you'd like to fix everything that may annoy you.

Seriously, there's 400+ million users. If you think that you can do a better job at pleasing even 1,000 of those, then "build your own damn Firefox".

A long rambling true, but there's sure to be even more people here bitching about Firefox rather than thanking Mozilla.

-Peeing dude by Ken Saunders-

Heh, guess I'm one of the few that loves the status bar has been integrated with the awesome bar. More screen real estate for the actual webpage is preferable, imo.

Asa said "It's more stable than Firefox 3.6."

I usually have Firefox 3.6 running for days and have to restart it because of slowdowns/excessive memory use (400 MB memory leaks?). I'm pretty sure it has something to do with some extensions I have installed 38 or more I believe, but still.

Meanwhile my Firefox 4 is pretty vanilla right now. Except for
Adblock, Noscript, TabmixPlus, YetAnotherSmoothScrolling and of course Status-4-Ever. A 7 year old, 30 MB bookmark doesn't seem to slow it down too much either.

So far it really does feel faster, and I have had it running for a few days. I can live without a bunch of extensions if that means Firefox will run at top form. Heck most of my extensions haven't even been updated for Firefox 4 yet!

I think with the good policy : "Release it when it is ready" we won't see Firefox 4.0 final until mid-mars.

hardblockers bugs which were down to 75 jumped to 84 in less than 8 hours of time :(

I also think that beta12 will be released. Good to see so much beta, but please, don't make Firefox 4 the Duke4Ever of netbrowsers !

To be clear, I am using products since end of year 2000...

Count me as a supporter of the decision to remove the status bar. I like having more display area to view web pages. Placing tabs at the top chrome-style is great too.
Beta 10 mostly fixed font rendering for me. With beta 9 I had to disable hardware acceleration in options, and still on some pages (like Google Reader) fonts were rendered with grayscale antialiasing.
Beta 10 is definitely an improvement for me, thanks!

Thanks, but Status-4-Evar does not solve the problem. It works not all the time, and having to install an add-on for a feature that was present for a long time could be difficult for "beginners".

@Ken Sanders:
Sorry I didn't want to murmur about Firefox. I'm really happy about it. Normally it's the first thing I install on a PC. And I know that I'm not capable of doing better than the Mozilla team did.
But I still think it is not a wise decision and I'm sure everyone has the right to express his opinion on this. I understand that not everybody thinks the same way. So a optional status bar would have done it.

1 remark, 1 beef with new Firefox. And a big one for me. I really, really, really hate, and like seriously hate to the point of abandoning Firefox, absence of Status bar.
And before you mention it - "Status-4-Evar" just does not work properly.

Listen to your users. I'm not alone.

I've been using FF since it was released and I can't believe they removed the statusbar. I've created an addon and now have to update it just because of the removal of the statusbar. I agree with everyone else, make it an option.

Firefox 4 is a DISASTER for me.

I've been using a graphical web browser since 1995, and a text mode one before that.

That's SIXTEEN YEARS of glancing down at the status bar to see where a link's going to.

If we can have an option to turn tabs on top on or off, why can't we do the same for the status bar?

One line of screen real estate saved for complete user retraining.

And the merged URL bar / status bar is APPALLING - no only does it FLICKER as you move your mouse across a page - JUST on the edge of my vision - but even if you try and use it AS a status bar then there's not enough length for it to always display the full link.

This "doubling up" of functionality is also apparent in the stop/refresh buttons being combined.

Again, maybe for screen limited applications that's fine, but not for multi-megapixel desktops!

Tabs on top also doesn't work for me because I use the tab bar more than the address bar, so the tab bar being move further away requires more mouse travel. At least I can swap this one back!

However, the WORST is that now when tabs close, then animate shuffled to the left.
I turn off ALL "smooth scrolling" options in about:config as they give me motion sickness.

Guess what, the closing tab animation doesn't respect any of the smooth scrolling settings!

All these things make Firefox 4 a complete and utter backwards step for me - verging on UNUSABLE.

To recap:

* status bar missing means flickering URL bar on the edge of my vision, and an inability to show the complete link URL. GIVE ME MY STATUS BAR BACK AND A NON-FLICKERING URL BAR.
* tabs on top doesn't work for me as I use the tab bar more than the URL bar, but it's switchable.
* animated tab closing gives me motion sickness. MAKE TAB BAR RESPECT smooth scrolling settings
* generally all this "doubling up" of functionality (url/status bar, stop/refresh) is not needed for the desktop

REALLY disappointed.

whoops, one more thing - the placing of "open in new tab" ABOVE "open in new window" in the link right-click context sensitive menus. I thought I was going mad the first few times when a new window opened instead of a the link in a tab. Again, multiple years of training - right-click, move mouse down a line, left click - needing to be retrained.

Some quick tips to help you:
-In about:config change browser.tabs.animate to false
-Stop and Reload can be separated when customizing the toolbar

I'm still getting used to some of the changes too.

"It's more stable than Firefox 3.6"

If that was the case, then shouldn't you be doing the general public a favor and set that as the default download on the Mozilla homepage instead of the latest Firefox 3.6? :-)

Well that's stupid. I basically said the same thing that mws said. Except my comment never got through. :/

Have similar issues as David above.

The improvements so far on the back end: speed, performance, page rendering, standards compatibility and so forth, those have all been fantastic. No complaints there.

The UI, on the other hand, feels like some new age PHB got put in charge, and wanted it to match his glass-and-steel living room that is oh so pretty, but never actually used.

For those of us who actually do use it, and have something more resembling the living room of a family of five, it's often frustrating and generally irritating.


I dislike very much the disappearance of the status bar.

I also dislike the tabs on top.

regards, Gérard Talbot

Something very different, kind of related.

Is it just me or are the nightlybuilds of Firefox a lot less stable the last few days, maybe even weeks ?

Asa, LOVE the new FF4, been using since beta 1.

That said, why has the STATUS bar been removed? Makes no sense.

And last, and maybe picky, the reload/stop button is badly shaped, as it should be a square, not a rectangle.

Paul Thurrott has an interesting piece on how "CLOSE" the next version of FF is:

Firefox 4 Delayed Yet Again. No, Seriously

If you're looking for a company that is so plodding and slow, so utterly incapable of shipping product, one that actually makes Microsoft look spry and speedy by comparison, please look no further than Mozilla. This is a company that makes exactly one product: the Firefox web browser. And it cannot for the life of it ship new versions of this product, ever. In fact, if I were to characterize this company with a single word, one that applies to its entire existence, that word would be "delay." This is a company that sets up schedules only to miss them by miles. It routinely—no, not routinely, but more frequently than that—establishes some pointless series of milestones and then wastes further time by rescheduling them after they've missed 'em all. These people are incapable of doing the one thing they do, in other words. And it has reached ludicrous and comical proportions with Firefox 4, the would-be latest version of this browser. This week, the company announced that it was delaying the release of Firefox 4 for what has to be the 127th time, and is adding an unprecedented 12th—yes, twelfth—beta release to the product's schedule. Seriously, figure out how to ship product or get into another business. This is beyond embarrassing.

Firstly, huge congratulations for putting the target URL back down the bottom of the browser in the latest nightlies. Credit where credit is due for listening to many people's view on this - thank you.

@mws - thank you very much for these tips. Sorry I haven't commented and thanked you until now,
but I've only just revisted this post to make the above comment on the status bar change.

Re the Paul Thurrott opinion quoted by Douglas - I'd much rather have a delayed but GOOD bit of software than a rushed and semi-baked release. Microsoft have been notorious for this in the past ('final' = beta quality) and even in the world of Linux there's been KDE 4.0 which was pretty much alpha quaility, and the coming Gnome 3.0 which is still having its kinks worked out.

So, once again, congratulations to Mozilla for listening to feedback; Firefox 4 no longer looks so bleak to me. Firefox 4 is - NOW! :) - so close I can taste it!

A splendid article, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact purchased me lunch because I found it for him :). So let me rephrase that: Thanks for the treat! But yeah Thankx for taking the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy learning more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more info? It is extremely helpful for me. Two thumb up for this article!

The worst part of 4 is not the status bar; it's the fact that it no longer saves tabs and windows on closing the browser. Bookmarking everything every time you close the browser is not an option for me. Too much clutter and I've already got too many bookmarks. How they could eliminate this option is completely baffling to me. It's an idiotic decision. If I can't figure out a way to restore my tabs and windows there will be no reason for me to use Firefox.

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