by Bill Snyder

Firefox 10: Better Business Support and a New Version for Android

Feb 02, 20123 mins

Mozilla has cranked out a new version of Firefox. It works well, but most of us have no particularly need to upgrade right now. Businesses, however, may want to give Firefox 10 a look.

OK, so maybe I wasn’t blessed with the powers of observation enjoyed by Sherlock Holmes. But I tell you, it took me about three minutes of staring at the icons on the toolbar of Firefox 10 to see the keyhole that some reviewers have made a fuss over. And even then, I never could discern the difference between the new keyhole and the old keyhole. Yeesh. Who cares?

I only mention this to make clear how teensy are the changes that a user will see in the latest version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, which debuted this week. If you use the browser for Web development, there’s reason to upgrade. If your business uses Firefox and is concerned about the lightning fast upgrade path, there’s something here for you as well.

I’ll explain those points in a bit. But if Firefox is simply your personal browser, there’s no particular reason to upgrade other than the fun of having something new, and the fact that the browser tends to get a bit better under the hood with each iteration.

As usual, though, new revs of  Firefox are incompatible with some unknown number of add ons and extensions. Mozilla’s developers have gotten better at handling those issues, but it’s still a problem since there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of add-ons and it takes a while to fix them. So for everyday users, waiting a bit until the developers catch up is not a bad strategy.

On the mobile front, there’s a new version of Firefox for Android. Features include full screen view, which gets the tool bar and controls out of the way so you get a better look at the Web site, tabbed browsing a download manager and more.

Some of those features are available with the Firefox app for the iPhone, but because of Apple’s stubbornness, you still have to run Safari.

Business Benefit of Firefox 10

Mozilla has gotten a lot of flack for its policy of rushing out new versions of Firefox every six weeks. Businesses were especially irritated, because many simply must take the time to qualify new software. Mozilla listened (amazing!) and started the Extended Support Release program, which debuted with Firefox 10.

ESR versions of Firefox will stay supported, that is Mozilla will provide security updates, but won’t mess with the browser itself. ESR releases will live for a much more reasonable 42 weeks.

For developers, meanwhile, Firefox 10 offers full-screen APIs (application programming interfaces), page and style inspectors for Website design testing, and anti-aliasing for WebGL. If you’re interested, there’s a lot more detail on the developer tools on the Mozilla blog.