Mozilla Celebrates 15 Years with Firefox 20
Mozilla captured many a headline today as Mitchell Baker blogged about 15 years of "a better web." Mozilla began life as Netscape's Open Source branch of development in 1998 and has since changed the Web many times, if sometimes by accident. But as Mozilla celebrates this milestone, Firefox 20 is already making the rounds.
Baker said, "Looking back, Mozilla’s plan was as radical as the Web itself: use open source and community to simultaneously create great software and build openness into the key technologies of the Internet itself. This was something commercial vendors weren’t doing and could not do. A non-profit, community-driven organization like Mozilla was needed to step up to the challenge."
He She continued, "In our first phase, Mozilla brought competition, choice and empowerment to the World Wide Web on the desktop. We did these things by cracking open the closed, tightly-integrated set of software, hardware and related services provided by Microsoft, the commercial Internet giant of its time."
See, once upon a time, users had to pay for their browsers. Microsoft thought it could get an edge by bundling Internet Explorer at no additional cost with Windows, so Netscape started giving theirs away for free as well. This opened the possibility for quality free software. But then they went further by releasing the source code too.
Or as Baker put it, "over a decade of creativity, innovation and increased competition on the Web. Mozilla has helped shift the center of gravity to a Web that's more open — that gives more people the opportunity to create and enjoy the Web on *their* terms. The 'open' way."
The future is looking bright for Mozilla and perhaps Firefox OS will lead the way. Until then, Firefox 20 is ready with several new and improved features.
Most importantly, but less glamorized are the eleven bug fixes, of which three were critical. Those critical include fixes for WebGL crash with Mesa graphics driver on Linux, Miscellaneous memory safety hazards, and Bypass of System Only Wrappers protections. Less critically were things like Memory corruption while rendering grayscale PNG images and Cross-site scripting (XSS) using timed history navigations.
Several performance improvements were also applied. These include making sure that stylesheets and scripts load with a higher priority than images as well as several shutdown optimizations. Some download improvements were made under the hood as well, but that was overshadowed by the new "download experience" which is mostly noted by retiring the separate window for a side panel.
Another improvement is the per-window private browsing mode. This allows users to keep their tracked tabs open at the same time as their private. Perhaps the most handy feature will end up being the "ability to close hanging plugins, without the browser hanging."