Mozilla VP hints at what's in store for Firefox 4 Page: 1
FireFoxMozilla VP gives an insight into what the future holds for Firefox users.
With the release of Firefox 3 on the horizon, the Mozilla team is already looking ahead and working on some "crazy ideas" for Firefox 4.

While the upcoming Firefox 3 will provide a cleaner graphical interface, numerous security upgrades, and a variety of new features, it still is far from the "perfect browser" according to Chris Beard, VP of Labs for Mozilla.  No browser at the moment can claim to be such, be it Opera's "Kestrel" 9.5 browser Microsoft's soon to be released IE 8, or Apple's Safari v3.1 browser.

However, perfection is exactly what Mozilla want for Firefox 4, and it intends to get it through thinking outside of the box.  With the release of Firefox 3 imminent, we have already been given an insight to what Firefox 4 will bring.  Beard is working on a variety of features, some of which wont show their full potential until Firefox 4 reaches us.
Beard's main aim is to un-isolate the browser. He says: That after 10 years the browser still remains isolated from your browser on other machines and from your computer environment. This leads to the focal point of Mozilla's efforts for Firefox 4. Mozilla is pushing strongly for two very different new lines of research: Prism and Weave.
Below is an extract taken directly from the Daily Tech article explaining what Prism and Weave are.

Prism is the main path of Mozilla's efforts to make the browser into almost a virtual OS, with applications, workspaces, and more advanced resource management and graphical abilities. Mozilla says the HTML 5 and Prism will make Google Gears obsolete. Google Gears is a beta service from the search giant which offers a way of accessing its online tools and applications, offline via clever caching and scripting. Mozilla also claims Prism will similarly be a death knell for Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Air, two programs similar to Google Gears, attempting to meld online and offline applications together.

Mozilla's goal is to be able to take any website or application and turn it into an application that can run directly from the desktop. While part of the emphasis is removing the classic need to go into a browser to access these applications, another focus is to make the applications available when you are offline. HTML 5, the upcoming next standard of the classic internet language will be updated to provide explicit support for offline/local resources, which should significantly aid Firefox 4 towards accomplishing these ends.

While little of Prism will appear in Firefox 3, Weave will see some of its underpinnings crop up in Firefox 3. Weave moves to expand Firefox in the opposite direction as Prism -- instead of expanding towards the desktop, this one looks to expand the internet boundaries of what Firefox can accomplish. The key emphasis of this drive is to provide a way of syncing a user's online preference whenever they use a browser anywhere. Among the elements of this are syncing bookmarks, home pages, favorites, and passwords. With the increased mobility from improved internet on mobile phones, consoles, and other devices, this becomes a particularly useful goal.

Firefox 3 implements the skeleton of this, with a new transactional database for store bookmarks and favorites. In Firefox 3 this simply allows more efficient and unique management of these items, but does not offer inter-browser syncing. Beard hopes to have the extensions necessary to provide syncing ready to roll out for Firefox 4. Firefox 3 will implement some information being fed into the browser when online, which should pave the way for this. In Firefox 3, streaming updates to malware signatures will help shore up security by offering protection against new phishing and drive-by download scams.

Other than Prism or Weave, Beard is focusing on making the browser more intuitive by having it assist users figure out web addresses.  Firefox 3 implements a basic version of this called the "awesome bar", the new smart web-address bar. Users of Firefox 3's betas will already have experience with this feature.  Beard wants to go beyond this and allow for a basic "linguistic user interface" in Firefox 4 which will allow users to type basic commands in plain English.

Aside from the the above, Beard warns that there may be some other "crazy ideas" in store for Firefox 4.
On another note, Mozilla released the latest beta version of Firefox 3 (beta 4) on the 10th March available for download here.
So with the 3rd Firefox not far away and looking quite impressive, we can sleep easy in the knowledge that Beard and his team are already hard at work on the next release.
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