Could this be the much needed refresh of Firefox we've all been waiting for?
Mozilla Firefox director Mike Beltzner has announced the company's vision for version 4.0 and the highlights are where you'd expect them to be: a UI overhaul, greater speed and full compliance with CSS3 and greater support for HTML5.
The visual refresh is obviously key with Firefox widely criticised for looking dated because, well... it does. Tabs positioned above the URL bar - akin to Chrome - pinned, reduced size tabs (below - also like Chrome) and a reduction in pop-up windows in favour of discrete notification bubbles (bottom) are all planned. These are coupled with greater user control over cookies, form filling and geolocations. Meanwhile the recently rejigged add-ons may be allowed to automatically update in the background as Jetpack gathers momentum.
As for performance the big change will be a move to native 64bit support, a brand new rendering engine (JagerMonkey), start-up time optimisations, fully sandboxed tabs, Direct2D rendering, multi-touch support and full integration with Windows' Aero Peak. Meanwhile web developers will get improved tools and multimedia capabilities
Timeframes? A beta could be here as early as June with a release candidate in October and a final version pegged from anytime between then and the end of November.
A word of warning: Mozilla has slapped "Plans Might Change (please don't overreport)" notices all over its announcements so the usual fistfuls of NaCl are required. That said, if Mozilla can deliver on the majority of these it will take several important - and necessary - steps towards getting back into our good graces...
Update: Mozilla CEO John Lilly has stepped down to join Greylock Partners as a venture capitalist. Mozilla has yet to announce his replacement. How about Beltzner?