Mozilla officially released its Firefox 8 browser for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android this week, offering a handful of new features and minor improvements.
While Firefox 8 isn't radically different from Firefox 7, there are a few notable new features. Here are the most important changes:
Twitter Integration: Mozilla updated its search toolbar to extend support to Twitter searches. Users will find Twitter as a search option in the drop-down menu of available engines, as well as Google and Bing. Mozilla has enabled Twitter search in four languages, including English, Portuguese, Slovenian and Japanese, and plans to support more languages in future releases.
Third-Party Clean-Up: In Firefox 8, Mozilla has enhanced security and privacy by disabling third-party applications and add-ons that automatically install themselves. Add-ons like these have caused problems for users in the past, and Mozilla wants to provide a browser experience where the user feels in control. From now on, Mozilla will ask the user's permission before any third-party add-on can be installed, and the new browser will give the user an option to trash any other third-party apps previously installed before the Firefox 8 upgrade.
Graphics Improvement: Besides the features users can see, under the hood Mozilla has added support for WebGL, a technology that leverages the computing hardware to accelerate graphics within the browser. Microsoft and Apple initially dismissed WebGL, calling it a security risk, but Firefox 8 now supports cross-origin resource sharing, a key component of WebGL, which is a secure method for loading textures from other domains.
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Master Password for Android: Android users now have the option to enable the Firefox Master Password, which protects every saved username and password. This is especially important for Android users so in case they happen to lose their mobile device, they won't lose any of their private information.
Developer Options: Mozilla declares itself a leader in HTML5, and in Firefox 8, Web developers can customize the options users have in the right click menu, saving them from having to build their own menu. Mozilla outlines all of the changes for Web and add-on developers in a comprehensive list here.
On Oct. 27, Mozilla released a modified version of Firefox 7 called Firefox with Bing, which integrated Microsoft's search engine directly into the interface. Mozilla already has a similar search contract with Google, but the contract is up for renewal this month, so the move to partner with Microsoft was likely a power play to leverage itself in future talks with Google.
Firefox, published by the Mozilla Foundation in Mountauin View, Calif., has 450 million global users, and is the No. 2 Web browser with roughly 26 percent market share.