Another six weeks have gone by, which means that it's time for a new Firefox release: Firefox 8.0 was moved to the stable release channel today, and it features a few more visible improvements over Firefox 7.0, which brought mostly under-the-hood updates.

Most of the user-facing changes involve add-ons: a new add-on selection dialog box is shown at first launch, giving users to option to enable and disable add-ons. Most automatically installed third-party add-ons (such as those added by Skype, Acrobat Pro, and other less legitimate programs) are now disabled by default, though they can be re-enabled manually. Add-ons installed by users will usually be unaffected by this decision, which seems to be an IE9-like effort on Mozilla's part to keep the browser running smoothly by disabling unwanted or potentially buggy add-ons.

Additionally, users who like the tabs from previous browsing sessions to load automatically can now turn on a feature in the browser's preferences that doesn't load the contents of tabs until those tabs are selected, reducing the time it takes to re-open a busy browsing session.

Lastly, heavy Twitter users may appreciate the fact that the microblogging site has now been added as a search option by default, alongside long-standing search options like Google and Wikipedia.

Under the hood, Mozilla has made performance and memory improvements when using the <audio> and <video> tags, has added support for HTML5 context menus, and has fixed security and stability issues, among a few other things. For a complete list of changes, the release notes are linked below for your convenience.

Source: Mozilla

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  • jramskov - Thursday, November 10, 2011 - link

    You're fortunately wrong. All the add-ons hosted by Mozilla is being automatically checked for compatibility and the vast majority is validated as compatible. The developers of the add-ons that are incompatible are of course getting notified.

    Mostly it is only externally hosted plugins that gets disabled and that is a good thing! And yes, you can easily enable the add-ons again.
  • iwod - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    Rapid Release Train Schedule were discussed heavily even before Google has released Chrome. Chrome was merely a catalyst that pushes Mozilla forward.

    And I believe we should ditch version number and use Year and Month instead.
  • zorxd - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    I have been waiting for this since a while
  • semo - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    Adding a new add-on policy should have been a .5 update. I was hoping for a final 64-bit version by version 8. Maybe in V12 in a couple of weeks.
  • JNo - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    I understand the rationale behind the major vs .x release nomenclature but really, who cares? Progress is progress however they number it...
  • mlcloud - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    The problem is, how do you name major releases? If they did Firefox 3 -> 4 all over again, how would it be named now? Or will they never do major releases? :<
  • jordanclock - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - link

    The point is they won't be doing major releases. Instead of waiting 6mo-1yr for a whole new version, they just keep adding new features and releasing them when they're ready.
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - link

    Welcome to Agile. Quick releases means quick progress. I agree with the version numbers though. These have all been minor updates.

    Either ditch the versioning altogether, or go with a date-based version as Ubuntu has done.
  • jramskov - Thursday, November 10, 2011 - link

    I guess that depends on how you look at it. I personally think that making the browser use 20% less memory is a big deal (included in release 7).

    I also think that automatically disabling externally hosted add-ons (which various companies has sneakily installed) is a pretty nice thing. Remember the Skype add-on that was responsible for many thousands of crashes?
  • locust76 - Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - link

    Progress is progress, true. But the numbering scheme breaks add-ons and destroys compatibility, because add-ons and websites are looking for explicit version numbers. You can't write an addon that's compatible with versions 4+, because you don't know what's coming in version 5.

    There are tons of addons that worked perfectly fine in 4.x but are now broken because:

    A) The developers have things to do other than writing software they don't get paid for

    B) Mozilla keeps jacking up the version numbers every month-and-a-half for piddly shit that deserve a 0.0.1 bump at most.

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