back to article Why, hello there, Foxy... BYE GOOGLE! Mozilla's browser is a video star

Firefox 34, just released, adds support for Mozilla’s web-based Skype-competitor, Firefox Hello. Firefox 34 also drops Google as the default search engine for US users, gives Mac fans the ability to play native H.264 video and eliminates a major security vulnerability. Phew! But is it any good? This is the first version of …

  1. Roger B
    Paris Hilton

    34?

    Am I missing something? I updated to 34 this morning but there is no chat bubble icon on my Windows 7 machine and nothing in the customise options either.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: 34?

      From Firefox help:

      "If you don't see the Hello button in the Additional Tools and Features drawer, please check back in a few weeks. The feature is being made available to users on a gradual basis to ensure that our server infrastructure is able to keep up with the load."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 34?

      It's there on 35 beta and I must say 35 beta seems much snappier on Opensuse than 34 did.

    3. Wolfclaw

      Re: 34?

      Yep, had 34 for awhile an no chat bubble.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 34?

      "I updated to 34 this morning"

      Same here, 34.0 on Linux and 34.0.5 on Windows. Then I noticed the URI for the story and is:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/12/08/firefox_35_review/

      So is there a typo in the article or the URI?

    5. Caspy7

      Re: 34?

      Mozilla is rolling out the feature incrementally (instead of going from zero to millions overnight) but you can circumvent this and turn on the feature yourself using these directions:

      http://winaero.com/blog/enable-firefox-hello-to-use-webrtc-features/

    6. blondie101

      Re: 34?

      You can put it in there via the configuration menu, +Customize and pull Hello to your menu. That's it.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 34?

      go into about:config and change loop.throttled to false

  2. Khaptain

    34 is a big number.

    34 major releases, really, or is that just 3 major releases and a few minors for each. After some brainstorming and serious butt scratching, I would suggest dividing everything by 10. Let's call it FF 3.4, there now doesn't that sound a little more serious.

    Firefox version 35 new feature/change log which states "Changed the font in a hidden T&C s disclaimer".

    C'mon guys , let's stop the version number wars. They are not really fooling anyone, if anything it just sounds amateur..

    .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 34 is a big number.

      2012 called... they still don't care about your complaint

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 34 is a big number.

      sometime shortly after version 4 they switched to the 'rapid release' system - presumably to make their version numbers comparable to chrome in the dubious hope that higher version numbers would increase adoption (which has evidently failed on both accounts: chrome remains the only browser with growing adoption, and still has a higher version number).

  3. ColonelClaw

    Still no 60fps on YouTube in v34, but hopefully it isn't far off.

    1. Caspy7

      Soon...

      Appears it may arrive with 36: http://redd.it/2ogcsr

  4. Tom 38 Silver badge

    That eliminates the headaches that arise if, for example, you've got Skype but your family prefers Facetime and your employer wants everything to happen over Google Hangouts.

    Does it? Does it really?

    Looks more like this is just yet another wasteground - you can't talk to people on Facetime, you can't talk to people on Skype, you can't talk to people on Google Hangouts.

    If all these things were redesigned for WebRTC, then you could use any WebRTC client, of which this is one, to talk to any other client. In reality, none of the people you want to talk to are using WebRTC.

    Of the providers I listed, I can only see Hangouts ending up WebRTC enabled. Facetime and Skype are platforms to drive you to purchase related technologies (Apple devices, Windows licenses), you don't drive that by allowing any old client to talk to your platform.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      eliminates the headaches - does it really?

      They might be using already skype, but they could also be persuaded to try the thingy built into their version firefox (well, at least once they upgrade).

      Those skypicles you communicate with might well be "using" it once you say - "can't do skype atm - try the firefox browser version instead - here's a link".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: eliminates the headaches - does it really?

        Sigh....

        http://blogs.skype.com/2014/10/27/bringing-interoperable-real-time-communications-to-the-web/

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: eliminates the headaches - does it really?

          Sigh....

          http://blogs.skype.com/2014/10/27/bringing-interoperable-real-time-communications-to-the-web/

          An article about enabling WebRTC using Skype components. So you can call WebRTC from IE.

          How does this relate to calling Skype from WebRTC? Do you thin MS will abandon Skype?

          Next...

    2. Andy Christ

      Skype is available on both Apple's OS X and iOS. I Skype with my friends on their Windows machines from my iPad and Mac all the time. Not to mention, use Skype Out to dial phone numbers. Skype is completely platform independent. Facetime only works with Apple devices it's true, but also moot as it sucks so bad there's just no reason ever to use it.

      1. AndyS

        Much as I hate Skype (the interface sucks, and it's made by Microsoft, who I simply don't trust), I keep using it. Why? Because it works on Android, Windows, OSX, Linux and iOS, it can dial out to real phones, and everybody I need to talk to on it has an account.

        As a commenter above said though, a simple alternative built into the majority of browsers would be very welcome, and very easy to start using.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Because [Skype] works..."

          "...on Android, Windows, OSX, Linux and iOS"

          Unless you have a less-than-two-year-old Lumia with the unupdatable WinPhone "7.8", where it will not...

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Skype is available on both Apple's OS X and iOS. I Skype with my friends on their Windows machines from my iPad and Mac all the time. Not to mention, use Skype Out to dial phone numbers. Skype is completely platform independent.

        Yes, Skype is wonderfully multi platform - you can call SKYPE users on windows from SKYPE on your ipad.

        You cannot call Facetime from Skype on Windows though can you, which was in fact the point - well done for ignoring it, have you considered a career in politics?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      According to the article:

      With Firefox Hello, all the other person needs is a WebRTC-capable browser like Firefox 34, Google Chrome or Opera

      So it appears that the person you're calling probably will have a client already installed.

      (For me, those who only have IE aren't worth talking to)

    4. randyweinberger

      Agreed, we feel the way to do this is in a plug-in and eliminate walled gardens by being able to communicate via the PSTN (for free) if necessary. If you are interested, check out http://firertc.com We are looking for beta users.

    5. pyite

      Tom38: you rightly point out the typical chicken-and-egg problem with new apps - many people won't want to use it until there is a large user base.

      However, there is a need for a standards-based protocol with GPL apps to use it. Hopefully Firefox will succeed at this without the rollout problems with protocols such as CalDAV.

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I'm all for more video-chat applications. Makes my "I don't seem to have that one working" excuse more plausible.

  5. xj25vm

    Powered by Telefonica?

    Where does Telefonica come into all this? What's with the advert for them next to the chat button?

    1. Raumkraut
      Thumb Down

      Re: Powered by Telefonica?

      Telefonica are behind Tokbox, which IIRC is the back-end system which powers Firefox Hello.

      Now I'm not usually one to bash Firefox or Mozilla (I use a FxOS phone, FFS!), but IMO this is a stupid thing for Mozilla to embed directly in the web browser. It's effectively siding with one particular WebRTC service provider, and directly competing with all the other providers out there - providers which rely on Mozilla to remain neutral (at least technologically). Unless Telefonica came to them with a big bag of money, I really don't understand what they were thinking.

      Not to mention that the feature may well suddenly stop working at some point in the future, once the business deal has run its course.

  6. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    For its part, Microsoft has said future releases of IE will add support for WebRTC.

    Maybe I'm getting more cynical... but what's the betting that this "future release of IE" will, somehow, only be Windows 8 only? Due to "technical" reasons of course...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite. Why they cant just make all of their software backwards compatible with Windows 3.11 I will never know

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        True, it's not as if the Windows 8.1 UI is much different to Windows 3.1 is it?

  7. billium

    "Sadly, WebM never really caught on"

    ... because of patents?

    1. earl grey
      Meh

      Re: "Sadly, WebM never really caught on"

      We've never really seen that play out in court. WebM was the result of further work which was purchased from another company (can't be arsed to look it up right now) and more work done. Even though there were threats from the 264 bullies, I don't really recall that lawsuits were brought against either side for stepping on toes. It would have been interesting to see.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "Sadly, WebM never really caught on"

      ... because of patents?

      Not really, because of the lack of hardware support: H264 was already supported in most hardware configurations so there was no battle to fight. Google has indemnified all users and paid the MPEG patent pool what they wanted.

      WebM did play a role in keeping H264 free (as in beer) and Google is able to mandate hardware support for it for the next generations (On9 has already been released) for Android. For most of us free to use (both to create and play) is all that really matters but there are also some benefits in competing technologies: H265 and On9 do do some things differently.

  8. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Holmes

    So who pays for the servers?

    They're not free, and I guess it's not peer-to-peer, so some serious money will need to be spent.

    1. Caspy7

      Re: So who pays for the servers?

      As I understand it, It is peer-to-peer (and encrypted).

      It's a serious step up over the security of Skype.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. psychonaut

      Re: So who pays for the servers?

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

      yeah! and who pays the people who pay for the servers.

      and who pays them?

      and who pays them???

      aaaRRRGGH! my frickin' brains going to explode! it feels like friday and its only monday. AAARGH!

  10. Florida1920
    Flame

    It wasn't broken

    But they fixed it anyway. Pre FF 34 I could change the search engine from a pull-down, select text, right-click and search using that engine. Now I have to copy the text, paste it in the box (not Paste and Search), then select the search engine. It adds extra steps and gives no improved functionality!

    1. earl grey
      Unhappy

      Re: It wasn't broken

      Don't know why they changed that (well, I do...it was supposedly more money in their pockets); and i found my search engine changed and had to forcibly revert it back to what i prefer (the same way i revert the look back to the old way).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It wasn't broken

        They might get less money now, with people changing it back to a Google link which doesn't contain the firefox token.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It wasn't broken

      The new search UI is horrible, I agree. Fortunately it's pretty simple to turn off... for now.

      Type about:config into the address bar and search for the following string:

      browser.search.showOneOffButtons

      Toggle the value to false and the job's a good'un!

      1. Florida1920

        Re: It wasn't broken

        Type about:config into the address bar and search for the following string:

        browser.search.showOneOffButtons

        Toggle the value to false and the job's a good'un!

        Thanks!

      2. weenoid

        Re: It wasn't broken

        I didn't mind the new search UI until I realised you could no longer switch search engine using the CTRL + (arrow key) shortcut.

        I disabled it shortly after.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Type about:config into the address bar and

        Why is it that every time they come up with a new version¹ one has to head for about:config to fix the breakage that wasn't there before?

        ¹ I.e., every six hours or so.

  11. G R Goslin

    Well, I've had it with Firefox

    Firefox, I;ve found, is one of those things which used to be nice. But now is not. It has so many things I dislike. I spend my time in either getting rid, or finding how to get back. Like the back button that takes you, willy-nilly to a Google search page. So to go back one page back, it's two pages back and one page forward. Why? Another is the crowding of super-thumb images of old pages on a new tab. Why? . It serves no useful purpose. There are many others. I've not abandoned Firefox. I've merely ditched the latest and gone back to Ver 27, when things were much saner.

    1. Fatman
      FAIL

      Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

      I've merely ditched the latest and gone back to Ver 27, when things were much saner.

      I installed v 29, and got stung by that Australis crap, and re-install v 28, and plan to stay there.

      If FF continues to 'decline' in usability, then it is something else.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

        No more security fixes for you. What a relief.

        1. Purple-Stater

          Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

          "No more security fixes for you. What a relief."

          Gotta make your choices. I find the security risk is worth the better functionality (for me anyways) of FF 27/28. Maybe that doesn't work for you, so that's your choice. I expect that some day I'll have to bite the bullet and let FF update, but for now it's not worth it.

          1. gv

            Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

            Why not just use SeaMonkey?

            1. pyite

              Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

              How about IceWeasel? That is the best browser of all time.

            2. Not That Andrew

              Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

              Perhaps because the UI of Seamonkey has not aged particularly well, and was never brilliant to begin with? But at least it is usable and they don't tinker with it every 5 minutes.

      2. bygjohn

        Re: Well, I've had it with Firefox

        Try the Classic Theme Restorer add-on, lets you use latest FF with a sensible UI.

  12. Deltics

    FireFox Hello.... All you need to do is....

    Followed by a list of steps that have to be followed to initiate a conversation, including some handy qualification and directional assistance along the way to explain the non-obvious.

    And this is an improvement on "Double-click the contact you wish to chat with and start typing your message" ?

    How ? O.o

    "Firefix Hello" ?

    More like:

    "FireFox How May We Direct Your Call. Press 1 to... Press 2 to .. Press 3 to... Thank You. Please Hold While We Try To Connect You. Your Call May Be Important To Us"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mozilla don't do it..

    Mozilla, just make it an add-on for firefox and don't ruin the browser.

    Lately, stagnating and watching others make the mistakes can help in the long run.

    If it ain't broke don't fix it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the last one...

    who wishes to use a web browser for, well, web browsing?

    Not for web development, not for telephoning, not as TV replacement, etc...

    Why does everyone and dog have to turn their product into an "eierlegende Wollmilchsau" (an egg-laying wool and dairy pig)?

    For my purposes, all just ballast.

    Or can I de-activate all this stuff? (Wasn't FF once supposed to be modular?)

    1. mathew42

      Re: Am I the last one...

      You are not the only one. I'd like a browser that doesn't allow any access to my hardware or file system. I really don't want websites able to switch on my webcam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Am I the last one...

        You are not the only one. I'd like a browser that doesn't allow any access to my hardware or file system.

        How about network card, keyboard and video?

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Am I the last one...

      I quite like all singing, all dancing browsers with the kitchen sink built in, but that's why I use SeaMonkey and used to use Opera when it wasn't crap. I used to use Firefox when I preferred something more slimline and would be cheesed with the current FireFox if that was still what I wanted from a browser.

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    FF 34 Mobile broke Twitter

    I don't know if it's Firefox or Twitter's crap code, but when I updated to 34 on Android, Twitter started painting the page then instantly replacing it with "something went wrong"

    I had to downgrade back to 33.1.

  16. Dick Emery

    HTML5 Youtube

    about:config

    media.mediasource.enabled true

    This gave me 1080p60 option in Youtube's HTML5 player. Ignore what the /html5 page says.

  17. Paul Hayes 1

    can't dial out to phone numbers...

    Looks like Telefonica are providing the backend service for this. So no doubt it wont be long before a paid for "skype-out" style service is available. Telefonica certainly know how to route phone calls.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have they fixed the bug from the last several years where new windows and tabs don't automatically load your homepage? Why do I need to add a plugin to make it do something it should do by default?

    1. John Gamble

      a) That's not a bug.

      b) If it really bothers you, you can easily pin your homepage in the new tab's screen. It doesn't require a plugin.

  19. docmartn

    Speed, Speed and More Speed

    There's only one thing I wish Firefox would commit to fixing. The amount of resources their browsers use. I've read they're "very committed and concerned" about the amount of memory their browser use and they are constantly trying to improve this problem. I've been using FF for about 7 years now and unfortunately I have yet to see this and the fact they're spending time with enhancements like this tells me they're working on things that no one is really requesting. I've never had a conversation with anyone who said "I wish my browser would do the same thing as Skype". FF's suggestion for enhancing speed has always been to systematically go through your plug-ins and see which ones are using all the memory. Because of this I have learned to keep my plug-ins to a minimum but it still seems like there's one or two memory hogs - so I have to systematically take time and go through each one - which begs the question why bother with plug-ins at all? Well, because they make life easier and more productive. If FF is always blaming the plug-ins why not create a tool or dashboard that helps the user managing this process better, a tool that evaluates the plug-ins to see which ones are draining resources so I don't have to use the "hunt and disable" method? Better yet, not only does this dashboard help manage resources but it can also suggest alternatives to a plug-in that's wrecking havoc on the browser. That would be a great release! You might ask, why I don't change browsers. I've tried and unfortunately FF is the least of multiple evils. IMO they all suck... FF just sucks least... even if it's by a thread.

    About two weeks ago I got a survey pop-up from FF asking about my user experience and the first question was how satisfied am I with my browser. I responded that I'm completely dissatisfied with my experience. The survey ended immediately with a note saying I'd be contacted by email from FF. It's been two weeks and nothing.

    Rant over - that is all.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: Speed, Speed and More Speed

      I'm not a fan of FF for various reasons, chief among them it's bloatiness that just gets worse and worse. However when I'm dissatisfied with something I change to a competitor, I don't continue to use it like you. That's just plain bonkers.

      1. WatAWorld

        I find FF fast enough, and much faster than manually doing things in IE in Chrome.

        Every year or two I try out Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Twice I've tried out Opera.

        I need some of the extras FF has.

        Comparing IE and Google Chrome add-ons to FF is like comparing Windows Phone add-ons to iPhone add-ons.

        Except IE and Google Chrome aren't less expensive.

        I find FF fast enough, and much faster than manually doing things in IE in Chrome.

        Mozilla's Thunderbird on the other hand is really really slow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I find FF fast enough, and much faster than manually doing things in IE in Chrome.

          Thunderbird, I notice likes its RAM.

          Yesterday I came in having left my machine running over a long weekend, and the machine was crawling. Thunderbird was eating about 4GB RAM all on its own. Hit ^Q and let Thunderbird shut down, significant RAM got freed, then I re-started Thunderbird and all ran sweetly after that.

          Extensions are a common cause of slowness, in my case I have:

          - Enigmail

          - Lightning

          - SoGO connector

          and not much else that I can recall.

    2. Zetschka

      Re: Speed, Speed and More Speed

      I usually have a suite-load of tabs open. Recent versions of FF--I'm using 35 now--handle this abuse better than before, and almost an order of magnitude better than Chrome.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still not ready

    WebRTC is a great idea. But, like a lot of other things, just not ready for prime time yet. First, the idea: a primarily peer-to-peer (which theoretically makes it more private) video and voice chat service that's built into the browser instead of implemented as a bolt-on plugin (making it more stable?). But the actual implementation across the many experimental services that have popped up over the last year or so is spotty. Even Tox, the stack that Firefox is using for its central proxy service (this gets the conversation going between clients and is supposed to help get around network impediments -- but that does not address service quality), has come up short in the testing I've done over the last 6 months. As for the smiley icon not showing up right away, that's officially due to Mozilla's staging the deployment of the code -- although it's not mentioned in any of the official release doc or official blog posts. You have to go to the fora or raise a ticket to find out about that. Personally I think they "throttled" (that's what the relevant parameter in about:config is called) its installation because it really isn't ready yet and they don't want to have to deal with all the confused users who will start calling in once they actually try it. To me this is another example of really good ideas being implemented bady for the sake of hitting a deadline and giving the appearance of progress. But as Richard Feynman once wrote, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

  21. pabc

    how is this any improvment on appear.in?

    I've been using https://appear.in for ages for my professional multiple person VCs.

    it works on Win7 / ubuntu laptops with both chrome and FF and chrome for android flawlessly. (this is not exhaustive, just all the configs I know people have used hassle free)

  22. pyite

    Screen sharing support?

    Does this app enable screen sharing? It appears that the only usable screen sharing apps are Skype and WebEx. It would be great to have an alternative.

  23. Roby

    I hate this

    This really does not belong in my browser. Just because I am looking at a website it means I am available for video chat? No. But it will show me as online apparently. The two options are "Available" or "Do Not Disturb".

    I just don't understand this. I want my web browser to browse websites. I don't want it to arrange phone calls or video chats. If I did I would use an add-on of some kind. This is one of the worst things Mozilla have done in a very long time. I really mean that.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: I hate this

      This is one of the worst things Mozilla have done in a very long time. I really mean that.

      Wow...hyperbole much? It's a standards-based implementation of a new open protocol that's been intended since HTML5 and the newer JS versions were planned. Chrome also has it, but I don't recall such a whine-fest when they dared to add newer standards support to their browser.

  24. Kev99 Silver badge

    whack hello?

    I wonder if there's any way to NOT install Hello. Or delete it after install. Doubt it. Just more useless crapware.

  25. Kev99 Silver badge

    Disable Update Install?

    Crap. I let FF download 34 and after reading the comments as well thinking about the "features" in 34, I now don't want to install it. Can you prevent it from installing?

  26. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Oooh look Google isn't the *default* search engine. Except that presumably would't apply to upgrades, since it would be extremely bad form to change a user's default search engine without asking them. So wouldn't that mean that thee change only applies to fresh installs which will be a very small proportion of the total number of installs.

    For me it would seem better to give the user a list of search engines to choose from at install, rather than force a "choice" upon them.

    BTW do Google still give Mozilla a big chunk of their funding? If so, for how long will that last?

  27. WatAWorld

    Yahoo does not give a darn about reliability or customer service.

    Yahoo wants to be the default Firefox search engine.

    Judging by how slow it is to fix bugs in its IM product and how many popular Yahoo services Yahoo has dropped without consultation, I don't think Yahoo gives a darn about reliability or customer service.

    Why would I use them as my search engine?

    First thing I did when I upgraded Firefox was to switch back to good old reliable Google.

    Google is motivated by profits, but unlike Yahoo, Google knows that to make profits you have to care about customers and support them.

  28. Greg J Preece

    Wow, the bitching is strong with this thread.

    It's an open web standard. Firefox added support for a new open standard. That is what you are complaining about. Chrome already had support for it, but Mozzy have apparently completely ruined their browser by adding support for a feature no-one is forcing you to use.

    For those of us that do want video conferencing without vendor lock-in (that's quite a lot of us, chum), this is great to finally see arrive, and I've been waiting on it. Thank you Moz, for continuing to properly support modern open web standards.

    1. Not That Andrew

      Maybe you could have looked at one of the various Open Source VOIP and video conferencing solutions?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two Questions

    1. I remember years ago when they declared that the browser should only pack the minimum necessary core features and everything else (such as, at the time, a download progress bar or a status bar) would have to be provided by add-ons. So far so good, but then it turns out that you can "like" stuff on so-called "social media" via core features in Firefox, as well as a bunch of other Twatterbook crap that they have "integrated". Same with the developer features (useful as they might be to me as a developer). So, why did this need to be bundled in the core, instead of provided via an add-on?

    2. I notice that the thing uses a proxy of some sort to establish the calls. Is the source code or that part of the system also free and open, and reasonably sane to install on a private server? Or does one depend on Mozilla and/or their chosen "partners" for it? What is their (Mozilla and "partners") privacy policy?

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