понедельник, 23 декабря 2013 г.

It’s been a momentous year for Mozilla and its Firefox and Thunderbird products. Last March, Mozilla released Firefox 4 as part of a new rapid-release cycle, adding Thunderbird to the same cycle shortly thereafter, which ensured a brand new version number would appear every six weeks or so. Consequently, it will come as little surprise, that practically six weeks to the day since Firefox 8 made an appearance, Firefox 9 Final has just been released. Those looking for a slew of new features will be disappointed, but it does contain one major performance fillip that makes upgrading worthwhile. The big news with Firefox 9 is added support for “type inference” for Javascript code. Put simply, this technology speeds up any website that uses Javascript. Mozilla claims that the new technology has led to major benchmarks like Kraken and V8 by over 30 per cent, and will lead to noticeable performance gains on Javascript-heavy sites. Other changes are more minor, although OS X Lion users – who saw major improvements in compatibility with version 8 – benefit again, this time with added support for two-finger swipe navigation and improved theme support. Other changes simply involve adding and improving support for web standards, including CSS3 and HTML5, building on previous releases. There are also a number of stability bug fixes. A busy year With this sixth major release of Firefox under the new rapid release schedule coinciding with the end of the year, it’s worth taking a moment to look back and see how far Mozilla's open-source browser has come in the past eight months or so. Firefox 4 was, of course, a major release, having been a long time in development. It debuted a new, stripped down interface that was designed to improve performance as much as it updated the Firefox look. Other new features included moving the Add-Ons Manager to its own tab as well as support for emerging standards including HTML5. The rapid-release cycle was then put into action, but we had to wait 12 weeks for the first build to appear under this new release schedule. Firefox 5 provided a more representative view of how Firefox would change going forward: tiny, barely noticeable feature tweaks, plus a number of performance improvements. Firefox 6 introduced the new Permissions Manager, giving users the ability to set privacy controls on a per-site basis. Again, under-the-hood improvements and tiny interface tweaks (domain names were now highlighted in the Address Bar) were the order of the day, although developers got to play with a Javascript Scratchpad for the first time. Firefox 7 introduced a long-awaited fix for Firefox’s notorious memory leak, meaning the app no longer eats up huge amounts of memory while idling in the background. Again, other changes were more minor, with http://” disappearing from the Address Bar one of the more noticeable ones. Firefox 8 debuted the Add-ons Compatibility Assistant, plus introduced a new option for speeding up startup on multi-tabbed setups. It also integrated the Downloads history into the History tab, while OS X Lion users got a form of full-screen support, although users have complained it’s not actually the same as OS X Lion’s native tool. And now Firefox 9 is here, to take Firefox that little bit further forward. So where do we go from here? The answers will be revealed later this week, then the Beta, Aurora, Nightly and UX channels get updated – keep an eye on Softwarecrew for our regular, updated look into the future of Firefox. Firefox 9 Final is a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Look out for updated versions of Waterfox, a 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows, and Pale Moon, another Windows-only build designed to offer a faster, more efficient version of Firefox, following hot on its heels.

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