Providing a preview of what's to come, Mozilla developers are now out with development versions of the next two releases of the open-source Firefox Web browser.
Firefox 25 is now in Mozilla's beta channel and follows Mozilla's release of Firefox 24 last week. On the desktop side of Firefox 25, bug fixes top the list of items that regular users are likely to notice. One of the fixes in Firefox 25 is identified in the release notes with the title "Resetting Firefox no longer clears your browsing session."
"Reset Firefox is a feature we recently added to Firefox to allow our users to restore Firefox to a pristine, freshly installed state," Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla's vice president of Firefox Engineering, told eWEEK.
Nightingale added that in order to make that reset as painless as possible, Firefox preserves the user's bookmarks and other aspects of the Firefox browsing profile.
"This new feature adds the ability to preserve your open tabs and windows as well, so that you don't need to reopen them after resetting," Nightingale explained.
Going out even further into the development cycle, Firefox 26 is currently in the Mozilla Aurora channel, which is essentially an alpha development release.
In the Firefox 26 release notes, one of the new items is titled, "All plug-ins in Firefox, with the exception of Flash plug-ins, are defaulted to 'click to play'." That new feature is something Mozilla has been talking about for at least a year.
"Plug-ins are a shrinking piece of the Web, and that's a good thing; they can cause significant stability and performance issues and are a consistent security risk," Nightingale said. "That's why future versions of Firefox will treat all plug-ins as disabled until our users explicitly activate them with click-to-play."
How do plug-ins work? Currently, when a user visits a page where the plug-in is required, it is activated by the content on the page, typically without the need for user interaction. Plug-ins can include media players like Flash and QuickTime as well as media-enabling technologies like Java. The continuing growth of HTML5 as the way to deliver media is causing a decline in the use and need for media plug-ins.
In moving to a full "click to play" approach for Firefox, the execution details still matter, Nightingale said.
"In the months since we first discussed our intent to do this, our designers and user researchers have been hard at work ensuring that this improved performance and security doesn't harm Firefox's ease of use," Nightingale said.
Firefox 25 is currently scheduled to be released the week of Oct. 29, while Firefox 26 will move into beta that same week with general availability likely before the end of the year.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.