If you, like me, left Firefox recently you probably did so for one of two reasons: speed or stability. Well Mozilla is finally looking to address the latter...
The non-profit organisation has announced the first public beta of Firefox 3.6.4 (dubbed 'Lorentz') which takes a bold and long overdue step: it isolates Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight plugins from the browser so if they crash, it doesn't.
"This version of Firefox will offer uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime, or Microsoft Silverlight plugins," said the Firefox product director Mike Beltzner in an official blog post. "If a crash in one of these plugins happens, Firefox will continue to run and users will be able to submit a crash report before reloading the page to try again."
"No big deal" you make think, until you realise the huge proportion of Firefox crashes that are down to one of these three plugins. Mozilla's publicly available crash stats keeps a detailed record of this, but as Betanews points out: up to 50 per cent of Firefox crashes have been laid at the feet of out of date versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, while Flash has totalled up to 25 per cent.
The problem for Firefox, however, is - beneficial or not - other browsers have been doing this for some time. Most notably Google Chrome has featured this functionality since it first launched in September 2008! Apple also recently announced WebKit2 which made this feature a standard part of all Webkit based browsers meaning Firefox isn't so much blazing a trail as desperately playing catch-up.
That said, Firefox will be all the better for this and when fighting it out against Microsoft, Google and Apple's increasingly aggressive browser release strategies it is hard not to feel some sympathy for the little guy...
Stats via Betanews