I think we all know that add-ons have grown integral to the Firefox experience — and popular, to say the least — but we didn’t know just how popular until now. Today, Mozilla said through its blog that 85 percent of Firefox 4 users have installed add-ons. Mozilla equates this to more than 60 million people using its add-ons every day.
But before you start rolling your eyes, Mozilla adds-on, “This number doesn’t include Personas, and even excludes popular add-ons bundled with other software that the user hasn’t actively agreed to install”. So apparently these aren’t force-installed add-ons then. I think. The company then went on to say it had expected the percentage of add-ons downloaded on Firefox 4 (which was released on March 22nd) to drop as time went on, but the figure “has stayed between 89% and 85% since launch”. (I’m surprised that this little self-congratulatory admission didn’t come with 5 exclamation points.)
Mozilla has also found that, on average, users download 5 add-ons, and that Firefox has racked up 2.5 billion total downloads and that 580 million add-ons are in use every day on Firefox 4. (Which does seem to be slightly higher than Mozilla’s add-on data available here.)
Back in April, Mozilla announced that it was moving to a rapid-fire release cycle, as well as introducing another channel called “Aurora”, which as my colleague MG Siegler pointed out, is the equivalent of Chrome’s “Dev Build”. Aurora falls in between Mozilla’s “Nightly” build and their “Beta” build, because users had come to expect that “Nightly” (which they had even renamed “Minefield”) would be closer to a beta or ready-to-release build — which it often wasn’t. Aurora is intended to be the version in which users and developers can play a greater role in participating in the building of new Firefox releases.
This announcement also came on the heels of Google’s announcement that it would be releasing a new version of Chrome every six weeks. Now, it seems that Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla have all sped up their release cycles to get new versions of their browsers into the market faster.
Thus, staying true to their promise, Mozilla also announced today that Firefox 5 is available for download on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.
According to the company’s statement, Firefox 5 “includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements that make it easier to discover and use all of the innovative features in Firefox”. The release includes added support for “more modern Web technologies” that will enhance developers’ ability to create “Firefox add-ons, Web applications, and websites”.
Firefox 5 also adds its “Do Not Track” privacy feature to Android, “making Firefox the first browser to support Do Not Track on multiple platforms”, the company said. The “Do Not Track” feature was designed to give Firefox users greater control over how their browser footprints are tracked and used across the Web. The feature essentially tells websites that users have chosen to opt-out of tracking — and is now “easier to find in Firefox Preferences”.
However, while Mozilla boasts improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas, as part of its new support for “more modern Web technologies”, according to PCMag, Firefox 5 is still scoring the same as version 4 on HTML5test.com, which measures the overall level of HTML5 support and performance. Firefox 5 scored 240 out of a possible 400, compared to Chrome, which comes in at 291.
So, Firefox 5 may not knock your socks off. After all, the IE Team decided to send Mozilla a celebratory cupcake for the Firefox 5 release. (More like a sarcastic cupcake, methinks. Though still delicious, no doubt.) But this release is, at the very least, good to see Mozilla living up to its promise to keep its release cycle quick and cunning — like some sort of fox. Because when it comes to the Web — and mobile, and most things these days — quicker is better.