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.