While builds are nearly always available before official release - it isn't that surprising considering that Firefox is an open source product developed in the open - but now Firefox 8 has officially been released.
Firefox 8 comes with the usual slew of security and stability updates, but also comes with numerous new features.
One of the most interesting new features is a check Firefox performs after installation, where it lets you see the status of your addons' compatibility with the new version, letting you enable / disable addons as desired.
Additionally Firefox 8 now automatically disables any addons installed without the user's permission. Many applications such as Free Download Manager, BitComet, Skype, etc. include addons for better integration with Firefox, but not all of them ask for your permission before installing the addon, and nor do they let you opt out of such an installation. For some users this can mean forced addons impacting the performance and stability of Firefox. Such addons will now default to disabled, and the user will have an option to install such an addon on launch.
Another feature of Firefox that can have a huge impact on power surfers with dozens of tabs open at a time, is a new load-on-demand feature for tabs. Firefox 4 changed the way tabs were loaded on session restore; instead of trying to load all at once, and hogging up the bandwidth, it would now load tabs three at a time. Users could configure how many tabs to load at a time, however not though the user friendly Options dialog. In Firefox 8 this feature has been simplified. Now you can opt to have your tabs load on demand. When you restore a session with multiple tabs now, Firefox 8 will load a tab only when you click on it. Otherwise it will not use your bandwidth, or memory. With this option enabled, Firefox loads much faster, and performs much faster.
Another user-facing but minor feature is the new Twitter search option available by default.
Firefox 8 comes with numerous improvements to web standards support as well:
- It now supports the new HTML5 context menu standard. This will allow websites to add options to the regular context-menu of browser, this improving the integrated feel of the application. You can test this feature using a demo HTML document located here. Right-click on the gif image to see two added options.
- CORS support for cross-domain textures in WebGL has been added. A flaw was found in how cross-domain images used as textures were handled that could allow leaking of private data. To prevent this loading cross-domain images as WebGL textures wasdisabled in Firefox 5. Now Firefox 8 supports the CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) standard for enabling cross-origin requests thus allowing use of cross-domain images in WebGL under secure conditions.
- WebSocket support has been improved
- CSS Hyphen support has been added
- Support for the insertAdjacentHTML DOM API has been added
Firefox for Android has also received an update as always. This time it features support for a master password. Using a master password, you can have a more secure experience while saving passwords to your device. If you lose your device, a master password ensures that your saved password data is still secure, as it won't be accessible without a password. It also allows adding bookmarked web applications as icons to the home screen for easy access.