Allow me to ask one little question though.
WHAT THE GODDAMN FUCKING HELL GUYS?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time for a little story. Get comfortable.
I’ve been a very regular Firefox user since it started, pretty much. I started using it because my geek buddies in school started blabbing about it, and I thought I’d give it a try. A few add-ons later, I was hooked.
Firefox is a VERY different animal from the original. I’ve not done a code comparison, but I’m sure I could apply a Ship of Theseus argument if I really wanted to.
This, to me, an end user, is the final piece of Firefox’s ship being replaced. The browser truthfully had stopped feeling like Firefox ages ago. I think many of us felt this was coming when Firefox’s Aurora channel got shut down– I certainly knew something big and not altogether good was coming.
Let’s go down memory lane a little bit.
I can’t tell you when Firefox last hit a sweet spot of useful changes and preserved functionality, but for me personally, it’s been about 7 years since the last one. But wasn’t that the POINT of the add-ons? Add-on devs enabled USERS to make the changes so that Mozilla didn’t have to. Mozilla would release a “core” browser with only the essential features needed to make a working browser– it was light, trim, there was no bloat whatsoever, and it was a very friendly browser which Mozilla would occasionally issue a security patch or bugfix for. It was understood that Firefox as-distributed was a “starter deck”, only intended to be feature-rich enough to get you playing. After you learned the ropes, your browser could have any feature you wanted as you installed add-ons, leading to no two end-user versions of Firefox being the same. It was great. My Firefox was perfectly tailored to me, and everyone I knew could safely say the same.
Since then, change after change after change had been made, and all that was really accomplished was breaking compatibility with my favorite add ons and themes. The touchscreen version of Firefox for Windows 8 (which I quite liked) was shut down and the open source fork gradually discouraged into the dust. I watched in horror as my perfectly tailored version of Firefox broke down and crumbled like so much wet tissue paper, with my hapless efforts to preserve functionality by using alternate plugins and add-ons bearing less and less fruit with each update of the system. Most of the devs whom I downloaded add-ons from in the beginning and through High School are now long gone, and such add-ons gone too, broken by some past browser update.
Why? Because Mozilla began to assume they knew best, and began… well, not MICRO-managing Firefox, but issuing updates to Firefox the way Microsoft, Apple, or Google might.
Since Mozilla took this approach, oh so many years ago, of managing Firefox like a traditional browser, the memory bloat has increased (my Ultrabook can’t even RUN Firefox for more than 10 minutes anymore due to the bloat), features have vanished or broken, the UI has made almost a dozen pointless changes and a few more pointless overhauls, and the parent company has deteriorated.
Honestly, I’d started using Firefox Light instead for the last two years because it was closer to what Firefox started as– just a good, fast, bare bones web browser that could be customized to hell and back with add-ons. Depending on whether it stays in development (and with mirrored changes to Firefox’s code), I may or may not keep using it.
Really, how many of us need to wake up and realize that Firefox is different now because Mozilla is different? It’s not about us, the geeky users anymore. It very likely won’t ever be again. I’d had hope that Brandon Eich would have been able to fix this as CEO, but then the media crucified him.
I think the point I’ve been moving towards over this post is that with this latest announcement, it’s probably time to pick a new favorite browser.