Firefox Desktop Strategy
In 2012, Firefox will deliver incredible user and developer experiences in four areas.
First, Firefox will continue shipping innovative new features that ensure users stay in control of their online lives. As a non-profit organization, Mozilla is uniquely positioned for putting users first, and in 2012 Firefox will do just that with features to help users manage how they're tracked on the Web, make sharing across multiple social networks quick and easy, bring privacy and control to the site sign-in process, and much more.
Second, Firefox will deliver the highest quality browsing experience with top notch performance, memory usage, and stability. In 2012, all browsers do more, stay open longer, and display more and richer content; but as the capabilities of the browsers increase so do the opportunities for the experience to become heavy or unstable. Mozilla understands the value of a responsive user experience and a highly stable and performant platform for Web developers. In 2012 strengthened and dedicated teams will wipe out any and all Firefox responsiveness issues users face and guarantee the rock solid stability at low memory costs that developers demand for their apps.
Third, while our mission compels us to deliver innovative new features and the highest quality experiences, the Web is more than just the desktop browser and so in 2012 Mozilla will be broadening its product offerings to include a web-wide people-centric identity system, a complete web apps ecosystem, and a no-compromises mobile browser. Integrating these products into the Firefox experience will give users a much richer Firefox and will help launch these new products to a broad user and developer audience.
What is this document!?
This strategy and roadmap is being developed with the direct inputs of key Firefox stakeholders, including engineering teams and technical leads; user experience, user research, and user support teams; marketing, market insights, and engagement teams; product management; and the entire Mozilla community.
The features covered here are primarily Firefox front-end work. For the specific strategy and feature lists covering Platform, Developer Tools, Apps, Mobile, and Identity, Performance/Responsiveness, and Stability, visit their respective roadmaps and other documentation.
Firefox Desktop Feature Roadmap
- Add-on Compatibility: Our experience has given us confidence that the overwhelming majority of add-ons are not broken by new Firefox releases, so we are changing Firefox behavior from assuming add-ons are broken with each new release and managing exceptions with an allow list to assuming add-ons are compatible with each new release and managing exceptions with a disallow list. DONE
- Chrome Migration: Firefox already supports migrating from other popular browsers. Users moving from Chrome to Firefox should be able to bring their data with them. We are building this capability into Firefox. DONE
- Refreshed Media Controls: HTML5 media is increasing on the Web. The default media controls are being refined for usability and to include controls for new HTML5 features like full-screen viewing. DONE
- Add-ons Sync: Firefox Sync makes it easy to move between computers and devices. In addition to syncing passwords, bookmarks, and history between Firefox installs, users are going to be able to sync add-ons. DONE
- Firefox Hotfix: There are small issues that can occasionally affect Firefox users after a release. Correcting those small issues should not require a full Firefox update. With a new hotfix system, Mozilla can patch minor issues in Firefox without requiring a browser restart. DONE
- Developer Tools advancements: See the Developer Tools roadmap.
- Web Platform advancements: See the Web Platform roadmap.
- Proof of concept for Firefox in Windows 8 Metro: In order to deliver a compelling Firefox for Windows 8 Metro experience, we need to understand what's possible. A technology proof of concept is the first step. This is not a Alpha or a Beta, but should demonstrate the feasibility of Firefox in Windows 8 Metro. (Timing here is dependent on when Microsoft releases their Windows 8 consumer preview and developer documentation.) DONE
- Firefox Home Tab additions: Firefox's start page, AKA Firefox Home Tab, is where users start their browsing session and where they land when they've closed their last tab. In addition to easy search, Firefox Home will become a launch point for managing all of your Firefox data. DONE
- A New Tab page powered by the Awesomebar: For keyboard users, opening a new tab and visiting a top site is super-easy thanks to the Awesomebar. For mouse users, Firefox's new tab page will include a "speed dial" like feature that provides Awesomebar-powered shortcut tiles for super-fast navigation. DONE
- Silent Update: The Firefox update process will be moved to the background and Windows admin passwords and/or UAC prompts will be removed. Also, users with the rare incompatible extension will have a gentler upgrade process. DONE
- Web Apps Marketplace integration: Firefox Home will offer a launcher for the Web Apps Marketplace and promotion for personalized app recommendations. Partial
- Restore Firefox: For various reasons, a Firefox profile can become damaged causing performance and stability problems. Users will be able to quickly and easily restore Firefox without losing their passwords, history, and bookmarks. DONE
- Awesomebar In-Line URL auto-complete: In addition to the amazing Awesomebar pop-up list, users will have easy in-line address completion for even faster navigation. DONE
- Smooth scrolling: Scrolling pages is one of the most common user interactions on the web. With a new scrolling implementation, users will find web page scrolling to be consistently silky smooth. DONE
- Panel-based Download Manager: Firefox was one of the first browsers with an integrated download manager. With the new panel-based manager, users will be able to easily monitor and managing Web downloads without leaving the main browser window.
- Start-up Performance Improvements: Using the Firefox Windows maintenance service to work around Microsoft's pre-fetch "de-optimization", Firefox start-up speed will be improved dramatically. Partial
- Automatic Session Restore with Tabs on Demand: Most users prefer starting the browser right where they left off. Firefox is moving to a model that restores all tabs when a user starts up the browser but delays the loading of background tabs until they are needed. This will improve the performance and usability of Firefox just after launch. Partial
- Hang Detector and Reporter: Similar to how Mozilla collects crash data, this new capability will allow Mozilla to collect, analyze, and fix browser hangs. Partial
- Speedy Session Restore: Session restore makes restarting the browser a frictionless experience. Firefox's session restore is being re-architected for major performance improvements.
- Seamless Plug-in install and update experience: Plug-ins like Flash are still a common experience on the Web. Firefox will make acquiring and updating the most popular plug-ins a simple and easy process.
- Tracking Map and 3rd party cookie management: (See related Collusion project) People are increasingly concerned about how they're tracked on the web. With Firefox's tracking map feature, people will be able to visualize how they are tracked as they move around the web and be empowered to easily block that tracking.
- Native Install & Uninstall for Web Applications: As Web apps become more common, users should be able to install to the standard OS locations and uninstall using the standard OS mechanisms. DONE
- Firefox Social API: The web is a social experience. Just like built a search API right into the browser when search became a key feature of the Web, so will we deliver a social API that allows users to take their social experience outside the walls of their social websites. DONE
- Log in to Firefox: Many users carry around dozens of account logins and passwords but that's way too difficult. Based on the Verified Email standard, Firefox users will be able to log in to Firefox to enable Sync and user-centric site logins. Users will finally be able to say goodbye to remembering countless passwords.
- Firefox UI refresh: Firefox is a modern browser that feels like you. With the new Australis look and feel, Firefox will be a more inviting and confident experience for users.
- Alpha and Beta of Firefox for Windows 8 Metro: The Alpha will prove the installation path and basic browsing features. The Beta will be feature complete for a 1.0-capability product.
- Network/Stub Installer: Firefox's installer is the first experience of Firefox for most users. A new lightweight installer will strengthen security and help improve download performance. DONE
- Integrated translation service: Firefox users, especially outside of the the U.S., encounter a lot of content that's not written in their native tongue. Firefox will offer an easy to use translating feature that makes reading foreign language content a piece of cake.
- Inline PDF View: Most users encountering PDFs on the Web do not need the full capabilities of a dedicated PDF editor application. A built-in PDF viewer will make viewing and previewing PDFs faster and safer for all users. DONE
- Add-on performance indicators: Some add-ons cause Firefox users to experience performance and memory problems. Firefox will give users the information they need to decide whether or not a problematic add-on is worth the performance cost.
- Site-based permissions manager: Currently users manage their permissions on a per-feature basis: cookies, passwords, history, etc. This is confusing. A site-based permission manager will empower people to edit all of the permissions associated with any particular site.
- Multiple Tab Performance Improvements: Most Firefox users have several tabs open in a session and background tabs can consume computer resources in ways that slow down the focused tab. There are several upcoming changes to Firefox that will better balance resources to improve performance for the focused tab.
- Search hijack prevention: Because search is such a lucrative Web feature, some add-ons and plug-ins are switching user search settings without user consent. We can alert the user when a third party tries to change their search service settings.
- In-line Preferences Manager: People appreciate Firefox's customizability, but some changes are too difficult for most users. Firefox Preferences will be moved from a pop-up window into the content area of the browser in order to improve ease of customization.
- Plug-in Click to Start: In order to protect our users from drive-by plug-in exploits and to provide users with more control over plug-ins in the browser, Firefox will have a new "click to play" feature. Partial
- Firefox Focus/Reader Mode: Despite the rise of multi-media on the Web, reading is still the most common web activity. We will make reading long-form content a wonderful experience with a user-activated re-formatting and re-styling of the page that puts focus on the content rather than ads and navigation.