Continuing their crazy rapid release schedule, Mozilla has released Firefox 7 and Thunderbird 7. This is on schedule for their plan to ship a new major version every six weeks. As you might recall, Firefox 6 and Thunderbird 6 were just released mid-August. November 8th and December 20th are when we can expect versions 8 and 9, respectively.
There might be some relief in sight for enterprise IT that are struggling to keep up with the rapid release schedule. An “extended support release” channel is proposed that would give enterprises longer before a product reaches its end-of-life. The ESR channel is expected to be part of Firefox 8 or 9. After it is available, Firefox 3.6, the version many cantankerous enterprises are currently relying on, will reach end-of-life 12 weeks later.
Back to Firefox 7, the release notes sound promising for some actual improvements in this version:
- Drastically improved memory handling for certain use cases
- Added a new rendering backend to speed up Canvas operations on Windows systems
- Bookmark and password changes now sync almost instantly when using Firefox Sync
- The ‘http://’ URL prefix is now hidden by default
- Added support for text-overflow: ellipsis
- Added support for the Web Timing specification
- Enhanced support for MathML
- The WebSocket protocol has been updated from version 7 to version 8
- Added an opt-in system for users to send performance data back to Mozilla to improve future versions of Firefox
- Fixed several stability issues
- Fixed several security issues
The improved memory handling is the most exciting bit of news. As the problem frequently plaguing Firefox, a Mozilla Hacks blog post states “Firefox 7 now uses much less memory than previous versions: often 20% to 30% less, and sometimes as much as 50% less.” For more details and metrics on the memory usage, read the previously linked blog article.
You can also see further copying of Google Chrome habits by hiding the http:// in URLs by default.
You can download Firefox 7 from http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
You can download Thunderbird 7 from http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird and see its release notes at http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/7.0/releasenotes/