Firefox 8 Locks Down Plug-ins

New open source browser is out, providing advanced HTML5 features and a rollback on third party plug-ins.


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Mozilla's rapid release train has pulled into the station on time, with the fifth major Firefox browser release of 2011. Firefox 8 is being released today, providing developers with new capabilities and offering users more security via a new add-ons policy.

"We're proud of the way Firefox continues to move the web forward in this release," Gavin Sharp, Firefox engineer and the Firefox module owner told InternetNews.com. "Our support for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) in WebGL lets developers build incredible 3D experiences on the Web in a secure way."

Sharp noted that Firefox 8 also introduces a simpler way for HTML5 applications to provide a right-click menu, to provide a more complete experience. He explained that this release of Firefox introduces better support for Web applications, allowing them to provide context menu options without requiring complicated custom code.

"Adding this functionality to HTML will make adding custom context menus options easier for Web developers and more consistent and reliable for Web app users," Sharp said.

From a safety and security perspective, Mozilla is taking aim at third party add-ons with Firefox 8. On startup, Firefox 8 provides users with a menu with third party plugins disabled, offering users the choice of re-enabling them if they so choose. Sharp explained that in Firefox 8, add-ons can still be installed by third party programs, as in previous versions of Firefox.

"What's new in this next release of Firefox is that Firefox will notify users when this happens and get explicit permission before enabling them," Sharp said. "On upgrade, we will also prompt users to offer the option of disabling existing add-ons that the user may not have been aware of. We want users to be in control of their browser, and to avoid add-on surprises."

Firefox 8 also provides at least six security updates over the Firefox 7 release, with three updates identified by Mozilla as being critical. The three critical flaws include what Mozilla describes as, Miscellaneous memory safety hazards, memory corruption while profiling Firebug and a code execution via a NoWaiverWrapper issue.

Mozilla's first rapid release was the Firefox 5 browser which debuted in June. Since then, Mozilla has been releasing new Firefox browsers at a faster rate than ever before with Firefox 6 out in August and Firefox 7 in late September. Prior to the Firefox 5 release, new major browser releases often came a year or more apart.

"The new release process lets us deliver new features and improvements to our users faster than ever before," Sharp said. "We monitor the way the release cycle impacts our users, as well as the ecosystem of add-ons, plugins and other 3rd party software that interacts with Firefox, and we're making changes where needed."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: open source, Firefox, browser, Mozilla Firefox

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