Mozilla Blasts Microsoft over Choice and Control in Windows 10

Mozilla is not happy about Microsoft’s MSFT 46.88 +0.59 1.27% changes in Windows 10 when it comes to the user’s default browser. The biggest complaint is users who upgrade to Windows 10 will have their default browser changed to Microsoft’s new Edge Browser. Further, it is no longer as simple as going into Firefox to set it as the default browser.

Sometimes we see great progress, where consumer products respect individuals and their choices. However, with the launch of Windows 10 we are deeply disappointed to see Microsoft take such a dramatic step backwards. It is bewildering to see, after almost 15 years of progress bolstered by significant government intervention, that with Windows 10 user choice has now been all but removed. The upgrade process now appears to be purposefully designed to throw away the choices its customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.

Mozilla Future Releases illustrates the process Firefox users must take to make Firefox their default browser again.

Chris Beard, CEO of Mozilla has written An Open Letter to Microsoft’s CEO pleading to Microsoft “Don’t Roll Back the Clock on Choice and Control”.

via The Mozilla Blog

Adjust Tabs Font Size

If you find the text on the tabs is too small, you can change the size of the font by adding the below lines to your userChrome.css file located in your profile folder:

#tabbrowser-tabs
{
    font-size: 20px !important;
}

Note: You don’t have to use 20px, you can set the value smaller or larger depending on your needs.

A Look at Extension Signing In Firefox 40

Finally got around to creating (actually cloning) new profiles today and installing the Nightly 42, Developer’s Edition (Aurora) 41 and Beta 40 of Firefox. As I am sure you know by now, Mozilla is starting Extension Signing with Firefox 40. So, what does this mean in the upcoming Firefox 40 (ETA August 11th)? In Firefox 40, it is just warnings…warnings in the add-on manager and a warning when you attempt to install and unsigned (or unverified) add-on. Below is a screenshot of my add-ons manager in Firefox 40. First thing I noticed was the slight change in the UI with the darker side bar and the addition of ‘Experiments’ menu item (might be used in the future for Idea Town).

Add-ons manager in Firefox 40.

Add-ons manager in Firefox 40.

As you can see I have a couple add-ons that can not “be verified”. Clicking the More information link takes you to the Mozilla support page about add-on signing. Something interesting here is Forecastfox shows as unverified even though it is hosted on AMO. Turns out Forecastfox is no longer compatible with Firefox so it was not automatically signed. For those who are looking for a replacement Oleksandr has created Forecastfox (fix version).

So, what happens when you try to install an unsigned (or unverified) add-on? In Firefox 40 you will get this warning:

Warning when attempting to install an unsigned extension.

Warning when attempting to install an unsigned add-on.

Starting in Firefox 41 (ETA September 22nd) the installation of an unsigned/unverified add-on will be blocked. However, users can disable this (I am assuming via about:config). Firefox 41 is currently in the Developer’s Edition channel which like the Nightly channel will still allow installation after the warning (as I found out earlier today). So, I will need to wait until Firefox 41 moves into the Beta channel (mid August) to see what happens with that version and how you can force installation. Firefox 42 (ETA November 3rd) will not allow an unsigned/unverified add-on to be installed, period. Again, will need to wait for that version to reach Beta in late September to see how that works.

Win64 Firefox NOT Coming with Firefox 40

Javaun Moradi announced earlier in bug 1181014 (this was the bug about how to ‘market’ the Win64 builds on Mozilla.org):

Folks, we’ve decided not to release win64 builds in Fx40. We have many improvements coming in 41 — sandboxing and NPAPI whitelisting, and possibly some other fixes — and it makes sense to hold. I as much as anyone want to see 64 launch, but given the enthusiasm, it’s better to wait for a product that has safety and polish 41 will bring.

He also commented in bug 1180792 (enabling Win64 builds on release channel):

Our original plan was a quiet soft-launch in 40, and to make
more noise in 41 when we have added safety.

There are two big reasons I can think of why Mozilla has made this decision regarding Win64 Firefox release:

  1. There had been some concerns expressed that pushing out the Win64 Firefox on August 11th (Firefox 40) before it was really ready would make it seem Mozilla was just releasing it because everyone else was pushing out a 64-Bit Windows browser because of Windows 10.
  2. There won’t be as much user shock/surprise/anger when they discover that Java and SilverLight suddenly don’t work in the Win64 Firefox 41 as there would have been had they updated from the Win64 Firefox 40.

 

How to block Canvas fingerprinting

"Pale Moon 25.6 ships with anti-fingerprinting option
"We talked about a fingerprinting technique using Canvas before and explained how companies make use of the feature supported by all modern web browsers to track users across the Internet.
"We also told you how to block Canvas fingerprinting in Firefox and Chrome. ... "
Source: gHacks Tech News
 Pale Moon 25.6 ships with anti-fingerprinting option

Truthful, but not very PC…

So, still no official (or even unofficial) explanation from Mozilla as to why they suddenly (as in July 9th) banished Silverlight NPAPI from the upcoming Win64 Firefox releases. Mozilla's silence on this dramatic change with the Win64 Fx is a bad thing for things to come. Why are they being so secretive? Why choose the worse of two evils (Flash)? Why continue to support a plugin that everyone (including Facebook) is trying to move away from (Flash > HTML5)? So yesterday the discussion in Bug 1165981 (this was the bug that was suppose to Whitelist BOTH Flash and Silverlight NPAPI in Win64 Fx) turns to how this should be communicated to the users. It was suggested that it should be disclosed in the release notes the 'side effects' of this change. laszlo commented:
Yeah, write in the release notes that Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Magine TV, Maxdome and an unknown number of other streaming and VOD sites worldwide will stop working with this change. That will certainly make lots of Firefox fans burst with joy.
Well, that is a truthful and painful way of putting it. However, as someone else commented later they would try to get more info from another party "as it's already causing some issues and probably needs to be stated carefully." By 'stated carefully' they mean Mozilla will simply state "Silverlight is no longer supported in Win64 version of Firefox". No explanation as to why or what the means for the users. I wouldn't be surprised that most users really have no idea what Silverlight is and why the need it. Until they try to go to a site that requires it with their freshly installed shiny and sparkly Win64 Firefox and told their browsers does not support Silverlight and to use IE 8.0 or newer. Now in theory according to engadget with Mozilla including the new DRM plugin (Primetime Content Decryption Module) with Firefox 38 user should be able to watch Netflix without the need of Silverlight. Also, Amazon Instant Video is suppose to have a Flash version, but I have heard the quality and reliability is not as good as with Silverlight.

Idea Town Coming Soon to Firefox

Earlier this month I talked about Dave Camp's email:
“Individual features rolling out to small audiences for focused and multi-variate testing”. Haven’t a clue on what exactly they mean by this, much less how it is going to be implemented...To me it sounds like they want to make select end user guinea pigs. I suspect there will be more about this in the future or it will be scrapped.
I was correct in that there would be more in the future and the users would be guinea pigs as well. So Mozilla is introducing in Firefox 40 (ETA: August 11th) and opportunity for users on the release channel to volunteer to be part of Idea Town (via an add-on) to tell developers whether a new feature is worthy.
Dubbed "Idea Town" for now, the opt-in program is to kick off Aug. 11 with a teaser in the browser's new tab page inviting users to register, with additional elements added over the following three months until the testing infrastructure is complete and operational. Idea Town's goal is to solicit feedback from users of its most-stable build channel -- labeled "Release" by Mozilla -- to help it decide whether to pull the trigger on new features and UI modifications before adding them to the usual 18-week development cycle.
Sounds good in concept, but Mozilla hasn't exactly been too keen on listening to their users (at least those of us who use/test the nightly, aurora and beta builds).
Among some candidates for an Idea Town experiment, Mozilla said in the planning document, are vertical tabs, tab badging -- where a browser tab offers additional information, like the number of new tweets when the tab represents twitter.com -- and tab snoozing.
Tab Snoozing sounds like it has potential, but like the other 'candidates' mentioned above they should be left as add-ons, not added into the browser causing unwanted bloat (like Pocket). via Computer World

More on Firefox Win64

After posting Firefox Win64 Supports Only Flash I got to thinking I knew I had seen a comment recently in Bugzilla about 'video changes' in Firefox for Win64. Looking through the bugs I am following, I found Bug 1181014 which basically was proposal to allow users to download win64 builds from everywhere, not only on the /all/ pages. The /all page referred to here is the Systems & Languages link on the Firefox download/landing page. This link takes the user to page where they can see all the localization builds and supported operating systems of Firefox. The first time I saw the below comment, I really I didn't think much of it at the time. Javaun Moradi [:javaun] replied to the inquiry:
Just /all for Fx40. We have more security and video other improvements coming in 41 and beyond, and those are needed to make the browser safer and more usable for a more mainstream audience
So those change made in the Nightly Win64 Firefox 42 must be part of these "security and video other improvements" Javuan was referencing to. But, safer and more usable for a more mainstream audience? I suppose it would be safer eliminating Silverlight and any other media plugins (though they opted to keep Flash), but I don't see that making Win64 Fx more usable. I almost get the impression they believe that the 'more mainstream audience' must not be using these video sites or may be they do and don't understand the risks they are exposing themselves to in doing so. So let's protect our users by crippling their browser and forcing them to use Internet Explorer or another browser as they may just as well assume that if the site is broke in the Win64 Fx version it is going to be as well in the 32-bit version without even trying it (even if they still happened to have the 32-bit version of Firefox installed). I wonder what other nasty surprises...I mean improvements are coming to the Win64 Firefox builds.

Firefox Win64 Supports Only Flash

In a very odd move Mozilla has made a change to the latest Firefox Nightly (Firefox 42) Win64 which only allows the Shockwave Flash NPAPI plugin. Note: the Prime Content Decryption and Open H264 are now standard all will always be supported. While Shockwave Flash is still supported Silverlight is not. Simple enough, just install the plugin and you're ready to go. Users won't be able to install Silverlight in the Win64 version of Firefox since it is not allowed. Microsoft's Silverlight is used by Netflix and Amazon Video along with many other Video on Demand (VOD) sites (especially outside the US). This is a result of Bug 1165981 which originally when created in May 2015 was suppose to be Flash and Silverlight.
Firefox 64 bit will launch with highly restricted access to NPAPI. The requirement here is to create a whitelist so that the only allowed NPAPI plugins are Flash and Silverlight.
Without much explanation Silverlight was removed from NPAPI Whitelist in early July 2015. Silverlight will still be available in the 32-bit builds of Firefox. Interestingly, Microsoft has removed support for Silverlight from The Edge (Windows 10) browser, but still supports it in Internet Explorer. Restricting the access to NPAPI is a good security move. However, it does not make sense to still allow access to the biggest security risk which is Flash and disallow Silverlight. Yes, Silverlight has had its fair share of security problems, but nowhere as much as Flash. The only explanation I can think of is Mozilla did not want to block users from Facebook which is still heavily Flash. Though Facebook CSO wants ‘End of Life Date’ for Flash On a side note, Bug 1187005 was filed shortly after this landed calling this change a regression. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. ETA: It was brought up in the mozillaZine Firefox Builds forum that this would also disable support for Java and Unity Player (which Chrome already did in April, but can still be re-enabled). Also I forgot to include this rather disturbing comment on the bug from Benjamin Smedberg [:bsmedberg]:
What we want here is for the plugins to not even be detected at all, not show up in the addon manager, and not be user-enablable or even programmatically with an extension.
This completely goes against everything Firefox was about when it first came out. Firefox is moving from an OpenSource browser to a nanny browser as it seems Mozilla thinks it knows what it is best for their users.