Homeless in Vancouver: My 15 minutes with Firefox 29.01

The latest version of Firefox—29.01—is being touted as the fastest ever. And that might be true.

At 9:30 a.m, I upgraded from Firefox 28.x to Firefox 29.01.

“What the…where the hell? Holy cra… Ahhh-rrrr–gggg!”

By 9:45 a.m., I was back to running Firefox 28. On and off my machine in under 15 minutes—that is fast!

Firefox 29.01 represents a major refresh of the popular open source web browser. I can’t tell you what I thought of the changes done under the hood because I couldn’t get past the superficial changes in the user interface.

A dramatic Firefox update? I don’t want drama!

The new Australis user interface attempts to polish the look and feel of Firefox to a (let’s be honest) more Chromelike finish.

The most noticeable change is to the window tabs. The squarish tabs of Firefox 28.x become carefully curvaceous in 29.01. They resemble both real file folder tabs and the slanting window tabs of the Google Chrome browser.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get past those tabs.

The Windows 8 version of Firefox 29.01 links the text colour of inactive tabs in Firefox to what it perceives is the theme of my desktop windows. On my Windows 8 waffle iron, that means the text in my inactive tabs is white on a white background and therefore invisible.

Windows 8 grants users the ability to apply global theme changes so that changing the directory window colour style also changes the colour of the taskbar along the bottom of the desktop.

Instead I used a registry hack (that no longer works in 8.1 by the way) so I could have a black taskbar with white text independent of the style of my directory windows, which have black text on a white background.

This bug in Firefox 29.01—tabs not visible with dark themes under Windows 8.1—was supposed to have been fixed a week ago and perhaps it was but my hack confuses the fix, giving me the white type of my taskbar against the white background of my directory windows.

It’s so disruptive to useability that I had to downgrade back to Firefox 28. Fortunately that’s easy to do.

The real problem is Firefox sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.

Mozilla, the developers of Firefox, have no business hooking in to my desktop settings. Firefox is an application running on top of my operating system. It is not part of the operating system.

I don’t want the Windows 8 version of Firefox to  look substantially different than other versions. I value that Firefox provides a nearly identical user experience across all operating systems, whether Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD…whatever.

And I can’t help but feeling that the Australis UI is less Firefox and more Chrome.

I’m seriously looking at trying Pale Moon, a fork of the Firefox browser for Windows and Linux that is promising the very latest Firefox code wrapped in an interface offering “familiar, efficient, customizable user interface design”. Meaning no Australis.

Comments (6) Add New Comment
The Mighty Neuron
Do the Pale Moon swap, you won't regret it. There's a migration tool on the Pale Moon site that just duplicates all your FF settings, plugins etc. over to Pale Moon, no muss no fuss. Best of all the UI is not designed by Salvador Dali.
16
15
Rating: +1
Dennis
Fantastic article! I agree 100%! I was so mad when I turned my Firefox on this morning just to see that everything is gone! I also hate it when people, applications, OSs, Google, software, etc. stick their noses into my stuff that is where they do not belong! This is really annoying because I wasted my time to get things back first and only then started my work! I hope that all of us simple users will also create something like GNU licenses one day where we shall be granted a certain amount of money if FireFox for example or any other intruder would trespass our private property and forcefully push in their updates without our permissions! I think it would be fair. They apply their terms and conditions on us simple users, but this is only one way game! We have to create and apply our terms and conditions on them in return as well! I hate being a "test-bunny" who is being experimented with in just any way they wish! I wouldn't also mind paying for every single piece of software/ application I have if that had to be done in order to avoid these uncontrolled / unpermitted modifications to my computers, smart phones, etc.!

The other thing that I also do not understand is why the hell was the design changed? This is not a security or speed issue in any case! If you are really so crazy and totally paranoid on your security then fix your security trouble in code but leave your design alone! Geee...
15
11
Rating: +4
Josh
Windows 8 isnt anything to write home about either. I cant get past the fact that Microsoft ASSumes I want to use my finger to manipulate the interface ON MY DESKTOP so I wont go past Windows 7 until they realize that people still run desktops and we have no care in the world about sliding our fingers around the screen. And no, that restore the start button thingy wont cut it. If Microsoft doesnt listen to me and many others like me then I have a very wide choice of operating systems once Windows 7 isnt supported. They have time to make it right.

As for FF 29.x - I wont install it after reading your article - thanks!
8
10
Rating: -2
Bruce
I just updated to Firefox 29.01 from version 28.0. Install Classic Theme Restorer 1.1.8. That will make Firefox 29+ look like version 28
10
6
Rating: +4
Lord Blackadder
Whilst I agree with your general sentiments regarding Firefox 29's design & such, I have to say, I do not get this thing about Firefox trying to be like Chrome.

I mean, how is it trying to be like Chrome? Maybe if your looking at it through frosted glass it would look like it... But otherwise it very obviously not Chrome.

By all means let's all critique Firefox, but the popular Chrome negative comparisons seem shoehorned & so very observationally shallow.

Or am I just very very anally attentive to aspects of design?
11
9
Rating: +2
Fixitmanarizona
'ello blackadder. It LOOKS JUST like Chrome. It has the same "bacon" button on the right instead of a real menu. It doesn't allow you to change your icons to words for those of us who do not "get" icons.
There is not "firefox" button, nor an icon showing you that it's Firefox. It appears to be Chrome, instead, since there is no Orange circle.
No button saying "Tools" right at the top, by default.
The tabs are at the top, not next to the web pages, as they should be, (yes I realize this was default behavior since around version 11, but updates always respected my SIMPLE choice that I'd made back then with a simple checkbox "tabs not on top" and no option to change it back, except installing YET ANOTHER extension to make Google Firefox look like Mozilla Firefox always has. (And right about the beginning of the "rapid update" cycles you'll find, Google provides most of the funding for Firefox, so it's not inaccurate to say "Google Firefox.")
Need I go on.
Luckily there are old versions that work properly, such as version 3.6, that Mozilla needs to indefinitely support with security fixes. I realize version 24 is the latest ESR and will support them.. until October 2014. What then? If I then update, I'll be forced to use the Australian interface? I'm in the US, and don't really want an Australian interface!
Workaround: I guess I'll have to install a browser built independently with Mozilla's code that doesn't use Google funding nor the Australian Google interface! (Waterfox, Pale Moon, etc. If i can find one I like that doesn't lose features I've come to count on.)
4
9
Rating: -5
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.