Mozilla today released the Firefox 45 Web browser, which provides users with incremental feature updates and security fixes.
Among Firefox 45's new features are improvements to the Firefox Hello communication tool that first debuted in the Firefox 34 release in 2014. With the update in Firefox 45, Mozilla is now providing users with the ability to share the tab they are viewing when a conversation starts. While Firefox Hello has been in the stable release of the Firefox Web browser since 2014, Mozilla still labels the feature as a beta technology.
"When we confirmed that Firefox Hello was stable and secure, we wanted to get it into the general release of Firefox as soon as possible to let users experience it," Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox Product at Mozilla, told eWEEK. "We don't do this often, but we have maintained the beta label because the product continues to evolve even while it's in the general release."
While Firefox Hello is gaining features, Firefox 45 is losing a feature, with the deprecation of the Tab Groups capability. Tab Groups started as a Mozilla Labs project known as Tab Candy, which evolved into a feature called Panorama that first landed in the Firefox 4 release that debuted in March 2011. The Panorama/Tab Groups feature enables users to group tabs together for faster startup and organization purposes.
"The primary reason for discontinuing the feature is low usage," Nguyen said, adding that approximately 0.01 percent of people using Firefox have active Tab Groups. It's hard to argue that Mozilla's spending engineering effort on the feature does the most good, especially because the engineering effort to keep Tab Groups running was disproportionately high, Nguyen said.
"[Tab Groups] have also led to significant extra effort while implementing other features in Firefox that interact with tabs," Nguyen said. "This was not an easy decision to make, as we know that there are passionate users of this feature, but we feel that our approach of removing the feature and creating an add-on that the community can own and maintain provides the best balance."
Mozilla is also issuing 21 security advisories alongside the Firefox 45 release, eight of which are rated critical. Among the critical security advisories is MFSA-2016-37, which includes 14 unique vulnerabilities associated with the Graphite 2 font library used in Firefox.
Among the security vulnerabilities that Mozilla rated as only having a moderate impact is an address bar spoofing issue, identified as CVE-2016-1965.
"After navigating from a malicious page to another, if the user navigates back to the initial page, the displayed URL will not reflect the reloaded page," Mozilla warns in its advisory. "This could be used to trick users into potentially treating the page as a different and trusted site."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.