Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Moz shop's rebuild-the-fox plan begins to take shape

Ditching XUL and XBL

In a second email covering more technical details about Firefox's future, Camp said Mozilla intends to "move Firefox away from XUL and XBL," two largely outdated bits of technology that help Firefox render on your screen.

It's still in the very early discussion stages, but ditching XUL should help streamline Firefox's code base.

The problematic part of the change is that XUL is heavily used in add-on development, which will likely make this transition a long, drawn out process. But it's something that needs to be done. Part of what seems to be holding Firefox back is the company's (understandable) desire not to break add-ons, which are one of the last advantages Firefox has over competitors.

In a way, Firefox has become the Windows of the web – its desire not to break any backward compatibility has become a wall it continues to butt its head against. At some point it will have to break that wall down or it will indeed need definitely need a eulogy.

Firefox's biggest problems, though, may not technical at all. It might be inside Mozilla, and judging by Firefox's direction and development over the last couple years, the company feels lost.

That, perhaps more so than any technical problem, is what has sent developers looking elsewhere. Chrome just feels sleeker and performs noticeably faster at common tasks, like switching between tabs.

As sleek and speedy as Chrome is, though, it could be viewed as spyware (yes, even Chromium). After download, Chrome/Chromium will remotely install audio-snooping code that is capable of listening to you.

It's a feature of course, part of Google's hands free search for your desktop. And Google claims it doesn't activate the audio component in question unless you explicitly tell it to.

And therein lies the reason the web needs Firefox, but the Firefox of old. Whether or not Mozilla's revamped focus can bring back the Firefox of old remains to be seen, but hopefully reports of Firefox's demise will turn out to be premature. ®

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