Mozilla streamlines Firefox as part of browser rejuvenation project
Mozilla has reworked Firefox in an attempt to get rid of user interface clutter and make its web browser easier to use. A new version, released Tuesday, cleans up the address bar, simplifies main menu options, consolidates website permission requests, and gives tabs a new look.
The effort is designed “to give you a safe, calm, and useful online experience,” Mozilla said in a blog post.
The new tabs present the open tab as a floating rectangle, a visual indicator that you can drag to reposition it in the tab strip or to disconnect it entirely in a separate browser window, Mozilla said.
When websites request permission to use your camera and microphone, such as when starting a video conference, Firefox will present the request as a single pop-up window. And the address bar’s three-dot menu is gone, which Firefox users haven’t favored, according to telemetry data Mozilla collected in 17 billion clicks in a month.
Firefox is Mozilla’s best-known project, a browser that helped reignite competition over 15 years ago when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was dominant but stagnant. The rise of Firefox was stifled with the arrival of Google Chrome, which now represents 64% browser usage while Firefox is shrinking. Firefox’s dwindling fortunes reduce Mozilla’s ability to steer the web in the directions it pleases, such as improving people’s privacy and reducing their online tracking.
Today, Firefox has 207 million monthly active users, according to Mozilla Firefox usage statistics. That’s a lot of people, but it’s less than the 300 million Firefox users Mozilla had in 2017 when it embarked on its Firefox Quantum project to speed up the browser and attract more users. Firefox remains a rarity on smartphones, where Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari are dominant.
Mozilla cut a quarter of its workforce in 2020, blaming a pandemic-induced revenue cut from partners like Google who share ad revenue. The nonprofit has raised the profile of advocacy work like privacy protection and the fight for net neutrality, but the dismissal has hit its core team of browsers.