Firefox 12 Coming Soon – What’s New

A look ahead to Firefox 12 which is due to be released this week (from 24th April).

New Features in Firefox 12

  • Removed UAC (User Account Control) prompt for Windows 7/Vista users when updating  Firefox – updates are therefore easier as there is one less prompt.
  • Added line numbers to Page Source – Page Source is a developer’s tool to display the source code of a webpage. It can be accessed from the menu bar via Tools \ Web Developer \ Page Source.

Changes in Firefox 12

  • Line breaks are now supported in the title attribute
  • Improvements to “Find in Page” to center search result
  • URLs (website addresses) pasted into the Download Manager window are now automatically downloaded

Technical (under the hood) Updates in Firefox 12

  • DEVELOPER – The column-fill CSS property has been implemented
  • DEVELOPER – Support for the text-align-last CSS property has been added
  • DEVELOPER – Experimental support for ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects has been implemented

Fixes in Firefox 12

  • Mac OS X – WebGL performance was degraded on some hardware (dual GPU Macbook)

Hidden Feature In Firefox 12

  • The New Tab (speed dial) feature displays your 9 most visited sites on the New Tab page – previously New Tab just opened a blank page. This feature is not due for full release until Firefox 13 but Firefox 12 users can get it right now via a couple of minor tweaks – see my separate how to guide.

Firefox 3.6 No Longer Supported

About 2.7% (i.e. millions) of internet users are still clinging onto Firefox 3.6 but Mozilla have confirmed it is no longer supported – there will be no further security updates or stability fixes for Firefox 3.6 so it will quickly become an obsolete and insecure browser. Continuing to use Firefox 3.6 poses a significant security risk.

Firefox 3.6 users will see a message asking them to update and will be prompted once more before being automatically updated to Firefox 12 in the near future (unless they turn off updating).

Firefox On Outdated Operating Systems

Mozilaa have also confirmed that Firefox 12 is the last version of Firefox that will work with Windows 2000, the original version of Windows XP or Windows XP Service Pack 1.

From Firefox 13 onwards, the minimum requirements will be XP SP2 – this shouldn’t be an issue for most XP users who should already have the SP3 update (released in 2008) installed, never mind SP2 dating back to 2004…

Users of Windows 2000 and XP SP1 should update to a more secure operating system (SP2 and SP3 for XP are free updates available from Microsoft) – continuing to use these outdated systems poses a significant security risk. Alternatively, they could switch to the Opera browser (Chrome does not support these outdated operating systems).

Conclusion

The improvements in Firefox 12 are mostly technical ones – there is nothing too exciting here. The removal of the UAC prompt is part of the ongoing project to implement ‘silent’ updates in Firefox (similar to Chrome). The change to Page Source may be of help to developers and webmasters but is of little interest to the average user.

However, major changes (the biggest since Firefox 4) are on the way in Firefox 13/14 so the next few months should prove more interesting.

As usual, this new version of Firefox will be available to users from April 24th over several days (to avoid overloading Mozilla’s servers) – so don’t worry if you check for updates (via menu bar, Help \ About Firefox \ Check For Updates) on the day and find there are none available for you yet, just try again a day or two later.