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Mozilla Firefox | Review

With Firefox 51, Mozilla is now offering a new version of its popular browser. However, what changes are coming with it, and how does it differ from the last version.

 

After an almost two-month update break, it’s time again: The version 51, the latest version of Mozilla’s browser is now available for download. The browser developers in the past weeks have not been said anything to the public, but in the background diligently developed to the version. Thus, Firefox 51 keeps some improvement for everyday life, but also drives the extensive conversion under the hood of the program.

 




 

Firefox 51 finally shows the zoom level

 

Have you ever wondered why Firefox displays the web page bigger or smaller? In this case, you may have changed the zoom level. This happens quite quickly, for example when you scroll the mouse wheel through a page and then press the CTRL key. So far Firefox had no display to show  if you increased or reduced the representation. This is different for Firefox 51: A new symbol appears in the address bar as soon as the zoom level deviates from the standard (100 percent). In this case, just click on the new symbol to return to the usual view.

 

View memory usage

 

With Firefox 48, Mozilla has begun to implement the multiprocess architecture, Electrolysis. With Firefox 51, the developers are taking the next step, as Sören Hentzschel describes. While the new architecture has so far “only” provided the distribution of the browser in two processes – user interface and the open web pages (content process), this is to change in the first half year 2017. Then Firefox should be able to split the browser tabs on several content processes, which should improve the general stability and performance of the browser. In the background the developers are already working hard on the changes. First results are already visible in the Firefox 51. The browser now displays the memory consumption for the running processes. Tip: You can use the “Process ID” (PID) to identify the process in Windows Task Manager, for example, to stop it manually if problems occur.

 

Multiprocess architecture for more users

 

At the same time, the Mozilla with Firefox 51 ensures that the multi-core support of the browser lands for more users. There is still a few criteria attached to the automatic release of the technology. For example, extensions and WebExtensions must be explicitly marked as compatible with the new architecture by their developers, so that Firefox activates the Electrolysis mode. During the beta test of Firefox 51, however, Mozilla has already tested extensions that were not marked accordingly. All extensions, which did not show any conspicuousness, released for the users, regardless of the tags of the respective add-on developers. This means that with Firefox 51, a total of 773 additional add-ons with Electrolysis will work. Do you want to know which technology use the substructure you are surfing with? No problem: Just type support in the address line and check the information under Windows with multiple processes.

 

Mozilla removes social API

 

After Mozilla has already taken the program “Firefox Hello”, which was conceived as Videochat in Firefox 49, the cleaning up in Firefox 51 continues. This time, a lot of the functions implemented through the Social API are removed. The extension introduced with Firefox 17 to integrate web services, such as Facebook into the browser, proved to be not successful enough to maintain the functionality. Specifically, the developers remove the sidebar as well as the chat window. The latter only used Firefox Hello. From the Social API, only the share button reached significant user numbers, which is why it will continue.

 




 

Video brake and support end

 

For example, if you open multiple videos on YouTube at the same time, Firefox has started playing each movie as soon as it is loaded. In Firefox 51, the browser stops playing back videos loaded in the background. Only when you open the tab for the first time will the movie begin to play. It is to increase the performance for the users of old operating systems such as Windows XP and Vista. Firefox 51 is the penultimate version of the Mozilla browser, which still supports the old operating systems. Probably in March 2017, so with the appearance of Firefox 52, it will be the last time when a new version with new functions are obtained. Afterwards, Mozilla provides the ESR version of Firefox 52 with security updates for around twelve weeks, so users of the old versions of Windows can still use the browser until June 2018. Then it is the final stage. Chrome is also no alternative: Google already ended support for XP and Vista with the appearance of Chrome 50 in April 2016.

 

Better not log in

 

If Firefox displays a crossed-out lock symbol in the address bar, caution is advised. This means that all data flowing between browsers and web servers flow unencrypted through the network. This is especially dangerous when you log in with your user name and password on this page. To warn users, Firefox 51 always displays the red-dashed lock when the page accessed has a logon window, and the data is only transmitted through an unencrypted HTTP connection. By the way: An encrypted HTTPS connection is displayed in the Firefox using a green lock symbol. Also, our site, BrightTitan, supports the HTTPS connection, and even if you are not writing your credentials, we transmit all the traffic over the secure connections.

 

Other Changes

 

How do I recognize the 64-bit version of Firefox, is a frequently asked question by many users. Right, because so far, the browser has not made it easy for its users to find out. From version 51 onwards, you only need to access the “About” page to see which version is running. In addition, Firefox 51 relies on favicons with 32×32 instead of 16×16 pixels. In this way, the small pictures, which appear in the address bar or the bookmarks, for example, should appear crisp on monitors with a particularly high resolution. It is also a pleasure to listen songs, because with Firefox 51 Mozilla supports the lossless audio format FLAC. In addition, the developers are working to integrate the search engine symbols into the address line. Advantage: If you type something into the address bar, you have the option to select a search service of your choice. However, it did not make the function in the final version of Firefox 51. If you want to get a first impression, open the advanced settings of the browser under about: config and change the entry under browser.urlbar.oneOffSearches.

 




 

Conclusion: Firefox 51

 

With Firefox 51, Mozilla starts  the year 2017 hopefully. The new version offers essentially only changes in the details, but to convince. For example, in the everyday use, the display of the zoom level is very helpful. From now on, you can see why Web sites might have looked too small or big  with an one click. If you watch a lot of videos on the net, you can enjoy the automatic stop function of movies loaded in the background. The hectic clicking and pausing is no longer necessary. Also welcome is that Mozilla is continually pushing its mammoth project called Electrolysis and makes the modern engineering base accessible to more and more users. The fact that Mozilla, on the other hand, removed the social API largely  from the browser, is understandable, but also a pity. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has not succeeded in convincing providers and users of the advantages that lie behind the idea of ​​the social API.

 

Predecessor check: Firefox 50

 

The benefits of the version are as often in the details: so most changes are useful, but only helpful in very specific applications. This is about the improved tab change, which is however primarily directed for the users with numerous open tabs. The ability to open tabs directly on other devices is only for users with the Sync enabled. The simplified print view is at least a blessing for the printers. Only the shortened start time benefits all users, to what extent, but depends on the respective configuration.

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