Mozilla is planning a massive overhaul to its Firefox Web browser, one that would make it look an awful lot like Google Chrome. Mozilla is also adding a bunch of customization tools to Firefox and stressing the ability for user’s to easily make Firefox run exactly how they want it. The updates will start rolling out in test versions of Firefox this week, and a stable version can likely be expected by the end of the year.


The most obvious Firefox updates come in the form of design changes, which Mozilla is drawing from its Australis project. Like Google Chrome, Australis features rounded tabs and a three-bar icon at the right that brings up a drop-down menu of options and settings. Unselected tabs blend into the background and don’t have the usual borders.

Firefox still shrinks tabs as more get opened, but Australis introduces a minimum width for tabs. Once the maximum amount of tabs has been opened, a scrolling bar appears. This is to ensure that tabs never get too small to be discernable, as sometimes happens with Chrome.

Jonathan Nightingale, the vice president of Firefox engineering at Mozilla, told TechCrunch that the Australis design is cleaner and more intuitive. Australis also introduces several more options for customizing the look and feel of Firefox. Nearly every party of the Firefox interface will be able to be rearranged or removed to suit a user’s needs.

Australis is available now through Mozilla’s experimental UX release channel, but this version is intended only for developers and is extremely unstable. Over the coming weeks, Australis features will come with updates to Firefox 25 Nightly, another unstable version of Firefox meant for experienced users that want to be on the bleeding edge of Firefox development.

If these test versions go over well, expect to see the updates coming to the full version of Firefox by the end of the year.

Do you like the new version of Firefox, or does it feel a bit too similar to Chrome? Let us know in the comments section. 

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