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Mozilla Releases Firefox 9, Renews Google Deal

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The final Firefox release of 2011 is being released today, providing users with a faster experience on desktops, smartphones and tablets. Mozilla also used the occasion to officially announce that they have renewed a deal with Google for search revenues.

Mozilla derives the majority of its revenues from a multi-year search deal with Google that expired last month. The new deal will extend the deal by another three years. Full terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

Firefox 9 includes a number of new features that designed to make the browser faster. One of these features is the Type Inference capability.

“Type inference is a new JavaScript system and the goal is to analyze variables,” Gavin Sharp, Firefox engineer told “It does that by analyzing the program code and by monitoring the values that a program executes.”

Sharp added that the results of Type Inference are then fed into the JagerMonkey JIT compiler providing JavaScript speed improvements. The JagerMonkey Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler was first added in as part of the Firefox 4 release cycle. From a benchmarking perspective, Type Inference can deliver as much as a 30 percent improvement in JavaScript execution. That performance gain is derived without the need for much additional memory footprint in Firefox.

“Type Inference does much of its analysis in a way that doesn’t impact memory usage,” Sharp said.

Another speed gain in Firefox 9 comes by way of XML over HTTP Request (XHR) chunking. XHR is commonly used as an Ajax-type web request for dynamic data. By chunking XHR, the browser experience gets faster as users don’t have to wait for all the data to be transmitted.

“Websites can get results in pieces and can be a lot more interactive,” Jonathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineer at Mozilla told

“Any site, anywhere in the world that is looking for this kind of responsiveness can now take advantage of it.”

Firefox 9 now also makes it even easier for websites to respect a user’s choice to be tracked or not. Mozilla implemented Do Not Track in Firefox 4 as a way to let users opt out of website tracking. Nightingale explained that Mozilla was getting feedback that the header content mechanism used to detect Do Not Track wasn’t easy to detect.

“Some sites wanted a programmatic way of determining if Do Not Track was enabled, that didn’t rely on access to header content” Nightingale said. “So we built a system for doing that.”

While the bulk of Mozilla Firefox user base is currently using a desktop, Firefox 9 is also available for Android phone and tablet users as well. Firefox 9 introduces a new tablet user interface.

“This is our first real foray into building a tablet specific experience, versus just taking our phone-based UI,” Nightingale said. “Our designer put a lot of work into making it feel right on a tablet working within the constraints of that form factor.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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