Mozilla Reveals Firefox 4 Plans

Mozilla revealed its early plans for Firefox 4 in a presentation by Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox. He suggested that the public revelation of those plans would help the organization gather feedback during construction of the browser, which aims to be fast, with a high degree of user control, and enable Web technologies such as HTML5. In addition, the new Firefox version will include a more streamlined default theme, performance optimizations and faster navigation. Firefox occupies second place in the browser wars, according to some analytics firms, lagging behind Internet Explorer but ahead of competitors such as Safari and Chrome.

Mozilla has begun early work on Firefox 4, according to an organization executive who presented the upcoming browser version's product plan May 10.

"Usually software producers don't present these sorts of plans in public until they're finalized, but Mozilla is a little different," Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox, wrote in a May 10 posting on his personal blog. "We work in the open, socializing our plans early and often to gather feedback and build excitement in our worldwide community."

The primary goals for Firefox 4 will include making a "super-duper fast" browser that gives users a high degree of control, while enabling "new open, standard Web technologies (HTML5 and beyond)." However, Beltzner added, "these plans are fluid and likely to change."

In an accompanying slideshow, Beltzner detailed how the development of Firefox 3.7 had been motivated primarily by "out of process plugins" and the browser version eventually morphed into Firefox 3.6.4. This new Firefox version will improve on previous editions by presenting a more streamlined default theme, performance optimizations and faster navigation.

Mozilla's development process for its browser franchise has undergone some twists and turns as of late. In March, the organization announced that it would stop work on a version of Firefox for Windows Mobile, allegedly because of Microsoft's forbidding the development of native applications for its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series.

"We have been building a version of Firefox for Windows Mobile for quite a while, with the expectation that Microsoft would be doubling down in the mobile market and hoping they would put out a great new mobile operating system," Stuart Parmenter, Mozilla's director of Mobile, wrote in a March 22 posting on the Blog.Pavlov.Net blog. For that build, Mozilla had been using Windows CE6, the underlying platform for the Windows Phone 7 Series, which is expected to make its debut near the end of 2010.

Mozilla saw itself as "well positioned to have an awesome browser on Windows Phone 7," Parmenter added, until Microsoft apparently decided to "close off development to native applications" on the new platform.

"Because of this, we won't be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time," Parmenter wrote. "Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don't know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold."

Firefox currently occupies some 24.59 percent of the traditional browser market worldwide, according to analytics firm Net Applications, lagging behind Microsoft Internet Explorer at 59.95 percent but well ahead of Chrome, at 6.73 percent, and Safari, at 4.72 percent.