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You can hook your MIDI keyboard up to a website with Firefox 108

Don't worry, there are some other improvements thrown in too

The last new version of Firefox for 2022 is out on Mozilla's FTP server, with a more widespread release to follow soon.

Mozilla has released Firefox version 108. Amusingly, for the first time since Mozilla sped up its release cycle in 2015 (and presumably for the last time, too) the current version numbers for Firefox and Google Chrome line up: the current stable version of Chrome is also version 108.

Truth be told, the 108th fox is not an especially big specimen. We rather like the task manager: it's been present for a while, but it's easier than ever to get to – just press Shift+Esc and a new "Process Manager" tab will open. Prepare to be aghast at how much RAM it takes to render a single web page nowawadays.

A new feature that may please musicians is the improved support for the Web MIDI API. The MIDI standard is very close to a remarkable 40 years old, and Web MIDI does just what the name implies: it allows web apps to send and receive MIDI signals to and from musical instruments. In principle this will allow sequencer apps to be implemented in Javascript.

Amusingly, the last time The Reg mentioned Web MIDI, it was because Apple was taking it off Safari users, allegedly because of security concerns. Firefox 108 addresses that with a new security mechanism for preventing, and optionally permitting, apps inside browser tabs to access hardware resources – in this instance, your MIDI ports.

No, this does not mean that you can listen to CANYON.MID directly within Firefox. .MID files are not the same as General MIDI. But if you are nostalgic for that for some reason, help is at hand.

Handling background tabs, especially under load, has been tuned. Here at The Reg FOSS desk, we almost never use Windows – we only have one box able to run Windows 11 at all – but if you suffer with that OS, then background tabs in Firefox 108 should use less battery power. (We highly recommend ExplorerPatcher which restores the Win11 desktop to some semblance of usability, and O&O AppBuster, which can remove a lot of built-in bloatware with a few clicks – both have noticeably improved since we plugged them back in July.)

Firefox 108, and yes, that really is Windows 11 with a vertical taskbar.

Firefox 108, and yes, that really is Windows 11 with a vertical taskbar.

Most of the other improvements are less visible. Some of the smaller ones include improved support for non-ASCII characters when saving and printing PDF forms, to go with the steadily improving built-in PDF handling that Firefox has had since version 19. If you use the option to only show the bookmarks toolbar on new tabs, that's been improved, and it should handle new empty tabs better – a weakness vis-à-vis Chrome that has mildly irritated the author for ages.

There are also small improvements in some things that only web designers will notice, such as ICC colour handling, Javascript imports, and CSS trigonometry functions. As usual, this release also plugs some new security holes: eight of them, to be specific.

If the main website doesn't offer version 108 to you just yet – when we clicked "download", we got version 107 – you can download it from the Mozilla FTP server for Windows/macOS/Linux. Ubuntu and other Snap users who want to jump the gun can check the "candidate" channel on Snapcraft. ®

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