Mozilla has released Firefox 29 with a new, easy-on-the-eyes, more usable user interface. A new customization mode, easy access menu, sleeker tabs, and a consistent look across platforms have been introduced.
This is not a formal review. It's not even a quick look review. Rather, it's my first-blush reaction to Firefox 29.
My readers know that I have been a big fan of Mozilla's Firefox for a long time. The reason is so eloquently and perfectly summarized by Jack Schofield at ZDNet that I won't even try to rephrase it.
The main reason for switching to Firefox is that, overall, it's better than Chrome. But there are other reasons. The most important is that Firefox is the only major browser that is written to serve users and the open web. Other leading browsers may sometimes do that, but their primary function is to serve the needs of giant corporations — Apple, Google and Microsoft — none of which has any interest in preserving your privacy. Usually the reverse, in fact.
The next most important thing is the introductory video from Mozilla VP of Firefox Johnathan Nightingale. In less than two minutes of video, Mr. Nightingale reveals the important visual changes to version 29.
For the sake of completeness, here is Mozilla's full list and description of new features.
Next, you can download the latest Firefox v.29 from this page at Mozilla.
Finally, my own observations are that I like this makeover a lot. Some of the features that had been developed previously are included now in a much more coherent fashion by using the menu icon at the top right.
Here's what the previous title, tab, bookmark and toolbar looked like.
And here's what it looks like now.
Notice how the tabs are cleaner, the current tab (far left) has a rounded and more noticeable shape. As before, the tabs don't try to shrink into unreadability, but rather stay the same size.
Unfortunately, the traditional title bar is off by default, a feature I've grown accustomed to in my workflow. It's recoverable with Menu > Customize > Title Bar. Unfortunately, this setting doesn't stick for me across a relaunch.
I really like the central menu button, now at the top right, for all one's favorite functions in one place. It's editable so that one can, for example drag add-ons there for easier access and customization. It's not only well organized, but more amenable to being touch enabled if necessary.
Firefox 29 still retains the separate search bar with its handy popup to select the desired search engine. I like that.
All in all, I've found Firefox 29 to be fast, friendly, and now very well organized and good looking. In terms of speed, the old days are gone when Firefox was considered slower and inferior compared to Google's Chrome.
You may perhaps feel an emotional attachment to Safari, but after you've used Firefox for a bit, it's noticeable, in little ways, how Firefox makes special efforts to protect you, especially with its wealth of optional add-ons. Updates are frequent, and Mozilla reacts quickly to security issues. You should give it a try. Unlike most other free software that has some hidden gotcha, Firefox is genuinely agenda-free and open source.