back to article Firefox 3.5 - it's not a 'web upgrade'

"This isn't just an upgrade of the browser. It's also an upgrade for the web", says Mike Beltzner, Firefox product director, in his What's New in 3.5 video. Hyperbole for sure, but it highlights the most interesting aspect of the browser wars, which is how each player is trying to influence the direction of web development. …


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  1. fluffy

    "buying a present"

    I guess that "buying a present" has truly become the de-facto euphemism for "browsing porn." Yet another aspect where Apple had set the standard long before anyone else.

  2. RW

    Recently closed tabs

    It's been around quite a while. Firefox 3.0.10 has it as the last item under the History menu item and it isn't new in that release.

  3. Oddbod
    Dead Vulture

    New features?

    What's new about Tear-Off Tabs, Recently Opened Tabs and Recently Opened Windows? New in Firefox, maybe, but Opera's had these for years.

  4. Gareth Hancock

    Just a suggestion...

    Hi Tim, I don't mean to start a flame war (honest!)...

    ...but you you might want to write a review of Opera 10 when exits beta in the next few weeks. The preview so far on elReg have been very negative, yet opera has some truely new and unique features, while most of these new goodies for Firefox are old hat for Opera.

    Unfortunately to see all of the improvements over Firefox you may need to look at the New Features in opera since version 8 (I thought everyone could re-open closed tabs or move them from window to window???)

    Oh and if you really want a private (boss / wife proof) web-browser then check out OperaTor.

  5. Sophira

    Recently Closed Tabs isn't new!

    "A neat touch is Recently Closed Tabs and Recently Closed Windows, which gets you back where you were after accidentally closing a page."

    Actually, Recently Closed Tabs isn't a new feature - it's been available for some time in previous versions of Firefox - check the History menu. Recently Closed Windows, however, is a new feature if it's implemented in FF3.5.

  6. Clinton
    Thumb Up

    Some old, some new, some improved

    "Next comes Tear Off Tabs, which - as in Apple's Safari - allows tabs to be dragged into a separate browser window. A neat touch is Recently Closed Tabs and Recently Closed Windows, which gets you back where you were after accidentally closing a page."

    Moving tabs between windows and re-opening recently closed tabs has been around for a while now. The new version of tab movement is much more efficient (doesn't have to reload the site) and the new recently closed windows is a nice feature. I've saved myself, and friends, many times with the Recently Closed Tabs feature.

    I find that Firefox 3.5 loads faster and opens new tabs faster than Firefox 3.0. All-in-all, a great release.

  7. Steve Evans


    Sorry, are those new Tab powers new?

    I've been using the TabMix plus add on since Firefox2, and I'm pretty sure I have always been able to do drag tabs between windows, resurrect closed tabs and restore previous sessions.

    Are you *the* person on the intarwibble who's using Firefox without any bolt on toys?

  8. OkKTY8KK5U

    This is going to sound snarkier than I intend...

    ...but in all seriousness, it's genuinely good to know that this release apparently contains absolutely, positively nothing that I actually care about in the slightest.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Speed is good

    Now I have to wait for a few of my favourite extensions to catch up.

    Paris, 'cause she's just so sexy and dumb.

  10. Big Al

    Not exciting? Great!

    Unexciting it may be, but to be honest unexciting is what I look for in a browser - I want it to do what it needs to do, without containing lots of extras that are just going to bork everything when they go titsup.

    Solid reliability is just fine by me - I don't CARE if the features are the very latest or not, as long as they work. My browser isn't a toy, it's a tool.

    Because it's a tool, that huge library of addons is of course a big draw, and upgrades that increase speed and/or memory usage are naturally always welcome... meaning that for people like me, this new FF release is a good one.

  11. Greg J Preece

    Worth it just for the speed

    Compared to FF3, 3.5 flies for me. For that and the improvements in HTML 5, Acid 3, etc, it's worth the upgrade for me. As a web developer (amongst other things) those are what's most important to me.

  12. Geoff Mackenzie

    Ogg audio and video ...

    ... ought to be enough for anyone. Seriously, I don't see the downside.

    I've been playing with the RC (which, given that it's the last RC, should be the same as the release version I assume) and the user experience hasn't changed much as far as I can see. I'm quite excited by the support for newer standards though.

  13. ChrisInBelgium
    Thumb Up

    Good release

    It's faster, all my add-ons still work, and an annoying bug finally got taken care of - the blanking out of 'Open in New Tab' when right-clicking on an RSS-feed.


  14. imposter


    Surely you would care that it's faster?

    However largely speed aside, this isn't a big release for me either.

  15. Robert Grant

    Recently closed tabs...

    been there since ffx2, no?

  16. David Viner Silver badge

    @Speed is good

    "Now I have to wait for a few of my favourite extensions to catch up."

    Most of them you can do yourself .

    If you're using windows XP look in:

    C:\Documents and Settings\LOGONNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\XXXXX.default\extensions

    where LOGONNAME is the name you log onto Windows with and XXXXX is the random value that Firefox uses for your default profile.

    Under Windows 7 (and, I presume, Vista) the location is:


    Under Linux you need to cd to:


    Look inside the various directories under there for the install.rdf files. Open each one in a decent (NOT Notepad) text editor and look for:


    where X.X.X is probably either 3.0.* or 3.1.* - change this to 3.5.* and save the file - in many cases the extension will then start working again.

    Hope that helps.


  17. Greg J Preece

    @P Saunders

    If your extensions don't work in the new one, download Nightly Tester Tools and turn off compatibility checking. In the majority of cases add-ons will function as normal, and just haven't had their version numbers updated yet.

  18. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Oh Noes!

    When I upgrade, it warns me that some plugins will stop working!

    Turns out, it the 'Microsoft .Net Framework Assitant 1.0'. Funny, I don't actually recall installing that one in the first place, so good riddance to more MS sneakware...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    private browsing

    "The first notable new feature is private browsing, a catch-up with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Google Chrome"

    ...and Safari too. It's had private browsing for as long as I can remember (a long time ;)

  20. Bassey
    Thumb Up

    Switch back

    I'll have to give this a try. As a long-time Firefox user I've actually found myself using IE8 quite a lot recently. I found FF3 to be quite unstable and very slow with certain video. It was also crap at rendering outlook Web Access (yes, I know, probably MS's fault - but that doesn't help me!).

    Downloaded last night but not had time to try it yet. I HOPE it's an improvement 'cause I feel dirty using IE8.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @private browsing

    That's cos it's about all you can do on a Mac. Safari is shit.

  22. W
    Dead Vulture


    re-opens the tab that was last closed. Alternatively, right click on tab bar and select 'Undo Close Tab'. It's been there in FF for a good while.

    Dragging & Dropping tabs into a new window has also in FF for a good while, too. Granted, it 'copies and reloads' the tab in the new window rather than does a 'cut and paste', but that's no hardship.

  23. Scott A. Brown

    A problem...

    I can't view my Google AdWords account using it, I get the message:

    "Support for Firefox 3.5 is coming soon. Until then, please use an earlier version of Firefox when viewing the new interface."

    Does anyone more technical than me have any idea why I can't view this page in this browser?

  24. JC 2

    It is exactly right!

    Those who think in terms of minimal new features or say "oh but such and such browser had them" are totally missing the point.

    This is genius development work, unlike most other developers Firefox's team has finally grasped that they should fix and refine what is there before bolting on more bugs and half-finished beta features.

    If only MS would take that hint with their entire software market but what do they care so long as they're getting paid?

  25. Scott Mckenzie

    So what you're basically saying is...

    that Safari 4 is better then?

  26. OkKTY8KK5U

    @ imposter

    Believe it or not, no, I don't. My computers are plenty fast for what I do - which mostly entails things like Noscript, Adblock, and permitting "active" content only in very select cases. The only times I notice any sort of performance issues about which I care is when I try to synchronize bookmarks since the Mozilla Foundation adopted what I continue to firmly believe is the insane idea of using a database instead of a flat text format (only the latter of which can be manipulated using a shell script, regular expressions, and diff).

    It doesn't sound like the Mozilla Foundation added anything new that I'd consider crippling this time, which is also nice. But speed? Nah, I've got all the speed I need as it is. I suddenly feel a need for a "meh" icon.

  27. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A confession

    Not about FF 3.5 exactly, but the Opera browser I was busy taking the piss out of a few weeks ago ("Opera will change the internet" or some such nonsense).

    It turns out that as a browser, it does the business - in as much as I can click on URLs and they appear. Now while that may not astound many people, it's a great leap forward from FF 3.0.3 that I'm running on Ubuntu 8.04 AMD64). The reason is that FLASH ACTUALLY WORKS! Not just for a couple of videos on youtube, before the plugin zombifies itself and leaves every other flash window as a dull grey, inanimate square. Opera actually plays the flashes - like, forever! man!

    Hopefully some of this Operatic goodness will rub off on other browsers: specifically FF 3.5. However, now that I have a Linux browser that has actually caught up with what "other" operating systems have enjoyed for years, I'm loathe to change, in case it breaks. Maybe I'll load up the new FF in a VirtualBox (3.0 'natch) guest and give it a run. But until then, who's a happy bunny?


  28. Tristan Young

    Web Upgrade

    Firefox v3.5 is certainly a web upgrade in some respects.

    One of the chief pains I have with the web is Flash and Silverlight. We have these competing standards that require plugins in order to be of any use to us. They have shown to be buggy, and proprietary.

    Enter HTML 5 with it's video and audio tags, plus Firefox's web worker threads and tracemonkey JIT. This gives us native audio and video, and the ability to produce better rich applications and websites. These features are really important to the evolution of the open and free web, and shouldn't be left to closed-source plugins supported by pigopolists like Adobe and Microsoft. This is certainly what they were referring to when Mozilla called it a web upgrade.

    Yeah, the new tab features are old news for most of the die-hard Firefox fans, and regular Opera fans, but that's not the selling point anyways, at least it wasn't for me.

    Firefox v3.5 ups the ante for Internet Explorer - I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft admits defeat on the browser war - you can only fight so long with knives when the enemy (Mozilla) brings AK-47's. I've used Opera (even the latest every-browser-a-server version), but it just wasn't the application I was looking for. I refuse to use Safari so long as Apple continues to treat customers like cattle while narrowly thinking of themselves as the best and most secure. Chrome is way too new and thus has earned zero trust.

    Yes, the average person will not notice much change between Firefox v3.0 and v3.5, but in time, they will become reliant on the changes that matter most. It's like a car - no matter what upgrades manufacturers make, they're still cars, and they still either work like a dream, or fail miserably - and not much changes from the driver's perspective. They are more efficient, spew out less pollution, and becoming safer and smarter. Innovation is sometimes unseen, but no less important.

    Thank you for Firefox v3.5.

  29. Boris Winkle

    Google OptOut Plugin

    I hope this gets updated sometime soon:

  30. Ian Elston

    incremental update then?

    So it's not a great showstopper of a release? But then it's a .5 update, so it's not gonna have lots more whistles and bells.....

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Tight <ul>

    "Adobe's Flash, by contrast, offers a consistent cross-browser runtime..."

    Consistent as in it will eat cpu, and take down the browser if you're lucky, on any page containing more than 2 youtube embeds.

    I hate flash, and it hates me, so I welcome anything that could be an alternative (except silverlight as it's never worked for me outside of ie - which I wont touch). And there's nowt wrong with ogg ;D

    Paris - because you cant help ogg-ling when she flashes

  32. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Opera - @Gareth Hancock

    Opera has some nice features ... but it doesn't have extensions, looks as if it was designed by a ten year old and is as unstable as a very unstable thing.

    Every so often I think "Surely they have got it right by now" and download the latest version - after working out whether they want paid for it this week. And invariably it disappoints, partly because it does so little and mainly because it does it so badly.

    That, anyway, is my experience of versions 2 - current under, variously, Windows, OS/2, Linux and S60.

  33. OkKTY8KK5U

    @ Boris Winkle

    This may be a stupid question, but does the Google OptOut Plugin accomplish anything that can't be accomplished by blocking all Doubleclick (and other advertiser) domains with a hosts file, adblock file, and/or Firefox's built-in cookies manager?

  34. Jason DePriest

    Screws up my browser sumthin' fierce

    I just installed it and was able to use it for about an hour before falling back to 3.x.


    * periodically lose the ability to use the mouse wheel to scroll,

    * scroll bar would jump to left side of browser,

    * forms would no longer submit (and I get a message telling me that I am submitting a form across unencrypted sites; say 'continue' and it doesn't),

    * 'options' dialog window blank except for 'ok' and 'cancel' buttons,

    * add-ons I use on a daily basis not updated yet.

    I'll wait for 3.5.1 I guess.

  35. Jason DePriest
    Thumb Down

    Opera and extensions

    Yes, it does have extensions. They are called widgets. See

    It may not have *the widget you want*, but to say it doesn't have extensions is just wrong.

  36. SilverWave

    Mr Tech Toolbox -> Make Compatible

    3.5B4 is rock solid on Linux - Just waiting for the repositories to be updated with 3.5Gold :)

    Most of the big name extensions work with 3.5 but if you have any problems Mr Tech Toolbox is the way to go. Ignore MaxVersion etc.


    All this lot works with 3.5: "Workswonders - Web Hack Pack" -

    And these(but some are forced): "Workswonders - Bleeding Edge - FF3.5" -

    Even a link to a hacked version of Repagination that works with 3.5 Whoot!

  37. Andy Bright


    "The other snag is that Firefox currently relies on WiFi points and IP addresses and does not use GPS even if present. Which may explain why it was out by 125 miles when I tried it."

    This is a good thing, not a bad thing. You do not want any website or application being able to identify where you are unless you manually enter the information.

    The fact that knowing an ip address can give a potential stalker no more than your ISP's local address is most definitely a good thing, and the likelihood of a stealth application being able to grab GPS information directly from any device that gives it up is always going to be high on a Windows PC. We don't want or need anyone being able to find out our physical address without being in control of the situation ourselves. Overriding protections that prevent this is precisely what black hats are good at and they don't keep the software to themselves.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was going to install it...

    but when I saw that most of my add-ons wouldn't work I decided to wait

    I don't use safari, opera and chrome because they look shite, withe Chrome being consistently unstable on my machine (browser alternated between locking up and crashing whenever I viewed any page that used javascript).

  39. P. Lee

    I want a corporate config option

    which pulls its full or partial config from ldap or AD, which allows admins to specify mandatory and over-ridable settings.

    Otherwise it isn't going to go far in business.

  40. Martin 75


    Unfortunately, the main facebook page doesn't render with Firefox 3.5 on Vista64.

    Having 2 pages of .js and .css errors is pretty spectacular.

    Warning: Unknown property 'zoom'. Declaration dropped.

    Source File:

    Line: 13

    It works fine in IE8 though.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Martin 75

    The main facebook page doesn't render properly? Sounds like the PERFECT browser to me.

  42. Gary Turner


    Do you have a clue what you're talking about? Facebook renders just fine, thank you.

    Two pages of javascript and css errors? What's that to do with the browser? No page can be /expected/ to render properly with invalid markup/css/scripting. There are other pages that render broken markup on FF, that fail on IE. It all depends on which screwed up code is where.

    Zoom is ignored? Of course it's ignored. It's not a part of css. The specs are very clear on that. If an element, attribute or property is unknown, it is to be ignored. Developers use the proprietary zoom property to trigger hasLayout, a proprietary and very buggy implementation of the block formatting context because {zoom: 1;} has no side effects in IE<8, and is ignored by every other browser. MSFT had the good sense to kill hasLayout as of IE8.

  43. Glen Turner 666

    @P. Lee - corporate config option

    There's a world of extensions that do exactly that. From OPIE to Xmarks. Choose which ever one matches your circumstances. Most use WebDAV rather than LDAP to reduce the system administration overhead.

  44. Brett Cammack
    Thumb Down

    My Logitech mouse

    obeys the config where the center-button maps to a double-click EXCEPT IN FIREFOX 3.5 where it insists on turning the cursor into that double-arrow-circle dohicky that irritates me.

    I looked for a config setting in Firefox with no success. I really don't care for software that presumes what is best for me.

  45. thereader
    Thumb Down

    Sun Spider test

    Safari 3.04 10068

    Firefox 3.5 1227

    Mac OS 10.5.0 Intel iMac

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