Mozilla today launched Firefox 78 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Firefox 78 includes accessibility features and video call improvements and is the last to support three older macOS releases. You can download Firefox 78 for desktop now from Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. According to Mozilla, Firefox has about 250 million active users, making it a major platform for web developers to consider.
While Google and Microsoft had to adjust their respective browser release schedules due to the coronavirus pandemic, in April Mozilla committed to sticking with its 2020 Firefox release schedule and the browser’s four-week release cadence. While the schedule remains unchanged, Mozilla shifted its roadmap to avoid shipping changes that might negatively impact government and health services websites and to address video conferencing issues.
Accessibility and video conferencing
Firefox 78 brings a slew of accessibility tweaks. If you use a screen reader, you’ll see improvements when moving around in an HTML input control, reduced lag when focusing the sharing indicator, faster loading of large tables, and less unexpected switching. Additionally, text input controls with custom styling now correctly show the focus outline, and there are fewer animations that might trigger users with migraines or epilepsy.
As for video conferencing, your screen saver will no longer interrupt WebRTC calls in Firefox 78. This follows the May release of Firefox 76, which specifically improved the Zoom experience.
Firefox 78 ESR
Firefox 78 is a Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR), designed for schools, universities, businesses, and others who need help with mass deployments. Firefox ESRs are maintained for one year. In other words, if you’re using Firefox ESR, you’ll now get Firefox 78 and be stuck with it until July 2021.
At the same time, Mozilla is dropping Firefox support for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and OS X 10.11 El Capitan. These users will be automatically moved to Firefox ESR. Unsurprisingly, Mozilla recommends that Mac users on these old versions upgrade their operating system.
“While Apple does not have a public policy governing security updates for older macOS releases, their ongoing practice has been to support the most recent three releases,” Mozilla says in a support article. “The last security update applicable to macOS 10.11 was made available in July 2018. Unsupported operating systems do not receive security updates, have known exploits, and can be dangerous to use, which makes it difficult to maintain Firefox on those versions.”
Windows, Mac, and Linux
Firefox 78 also brings a few developer features, including a new regex engine, updates to the ECMAScript Intl API, new CSS selectors, enhanced support for WebAssembly, and Firefox Developer Tools improvements. If you’re a web developer, check out the details here: Firefox 78 for developers.
For the full rundown, here’s the Firefox 78 for desktop changelog:
- The Protections Dashboard includes consolidated reports about tracking protection, data breaches, and password management. New features let you track how many breaches you’ve resolved right from the dashboard and see if any of your saved passwords may have been exposed in a data breach. To view your dashboard, type about:protections into the address bar or select “Protections Dashboard” from the main menu.
- Because we know people try to fix problems by reinstalling Firefox when a simple refresh is more likely to solve the issue, we’ve added a Refresh button to the Uninstaller.
- With this release, your screen saver will no longer interrupt WebRTC calls on Firefox, making conference and video calling in Firefox better.
- We’ve rolled out WebRender to Windows users with Intel GPUs, bringing improved graphics performance to an even larger audience.
- Firefox 78 is also our Extended Support Release (ESR), where the changes made over the course of the previous 10 releases will now roll out to our ESR users. Some of the highlights are: Kiosk mode, client certificates, Service Worker and Push APIs, Block Autoplay, Picture-in-picture support, and manage web certificates in about:certificate.
- Pocket recommendations, featuring some of the best stories on the web, will now appear on the Firefox new tab for 100% of our users in the U.K. If you don’t see them, you can turn on Pocket articles in your new tab by following these steps.
- The Firefox DevTools’ Network panel now highlights which extension or CORS restriction blocked a request, so developers can make their sites more resilient and secure.
- Debugger’s automatic mapping for minified variable names now also works for Logpoints, which makes debugger of source-mapped projects feel more seamless.
- New RegExp engine in SpiderMonkey brings new capabilities, adding support for the dotAll flag, Unicode escape sequences, lookbehind references, and named captures.
- Enable support for client certificates stored on macOS and Windows by setting the experimental preference security.osclientcerts.autoload to “true.”
- New policies allow you to configure application handlers, disable picture in picture, and require a master password, which will be renamed to “primary password” in future releases.
- The minimal system requirements on Linux have been updated. Firefox now needs GNU libc 2.17, libstdc++ 4.8.1 and GTK+ 3.14 or newer versions.
- As part of our ongoing effort to deprecate obsolete cryptography, we have disabled all remaining DHE-based TLS ciphersuites by default. To mitigate web compatibility issues from disabling DHE-based TLS ciphersuites, Firefox 78 enables two more AES-GCM SHA2-based ciphersuites.
- We have disabled TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 to improve your website connections. Sites that don’t support TLS version 1.2 will now show an error page.
- The context menu (accessed by right clicking on a tab) lets you undo multiple tab closings with a single click and places Close Tabs to the Right and Close Other Tabs in a submenu.
- When using the JAWS screen reader, pressing the down arrow in an HTML input control with a datalist no longer incorrectly moves the cursor to the next element after the input control.
- Screen readers no longer severely lag or freeze when focusing the microphone/camera/screen sharing indicator.
- Large tables with thousands of rows now load much faster for screen reader users.
- Text input controls with custom styling now correctly show the focus outline when appropriate.
- Screen readers no longer sometimes incorrectly switch to document browsing mode unexpectedly when the user enters the main Developer Tools window.
- We reduced a number of animations, such as tab hover, search bar expansion, and others, to reduce motion for users with migraines and epilepsy.
- Various security fixes.
- We fixed bugs in the search results quality composition and improved search result texts based on recommendations by our partners.
Mozilla releases new Firefox versions every four weeks. Firefox 79 is currently slated for July.