Looking to the future after 10 years of Firefox

Firefox owes a huge debt to its community and volunteers

As you might have noticed, this week saw the tenth anniversary of the Firefox web browser. Given that, we spoke to Johnathan Nightingale, VP Firefox, to discover more about what's new in Firefox as of this week, and his thoughts on what the web and the browsers of the future will look like.

TechRadar Pro: What's new in Firefox?

Johnathan Nightingale: Let me start by saying that the consistent theme you are seeing from Mozilla is that we're trying to solve actual problems for you and offer you choices that are meaningful, that matter to you and that you understand in terms of value. This started with launching Firefox 10 years ago and continues today.

We always look for the simplest thing you can tell us about your online preferences. Then we think about how we can present that back to you in a meaningful way so you can start to see how your information flows on the web. We then think about presenting that back to the industry in a way that allows us to advocate for the change we feel needs to happen. We did that with Do Not Track and now every browser supports it. We did it with WebGL and now every browser supports it.

You continue to see that work with the Forget button, which is one of the new things in the special anniversary edition of Firefox released this week. Forget is based on a really simple idea. If you fall down a link path and realise that you are not where you wanted to be, or click on a link or are on a research mission that you should have done in Private Browsing mode but forgot to, now you can just erase that. With Forget, there is a way to undo that action after the fact.

Firefox works to remember things to help you, but it also helps you forget things when that is the right choice. We've made that into a really simple transaction so you can ask Firefox to forget the last five minutes, the last two hours or the last 24 hours. In one click you can delete your recent history, cookies, close all tabs and windows and open a new window to start again.

We also included DuckDuckGo as one of our search options because search without tracking is an interesting proposition. It feels like a choice we wanted to make available to our users. We understand that even users who don't spend their lives in the technology space still worry about how their information is being tracked and traded, and do not like it being done without their consent.

We're also introducing the Privacy Coach, a new kind of add-on for Firefox for Android, which puts key privacy features within easy reach on one dedicated home screen page. You can add it to your Firefox today to have information at your fingertips about the privacy features that Firefox has to offer, including Do Not Track, Private Browsing, Guest Browsing, Cookie Blocking and Clear History. You'll see easy-to-digest explanations about these features to help you figure out what settings are right for you.

And we're excited to launch Firefox Developer Edition built from the ground up for developers and those who have a curiosity about how the web is made. Now they have a place they can call home instead of having to force a consumer-oriented browser into their particular workflow.

We are also working on a privacy initiative to partner with others to improve privacy protection options and tools online. We will conduct research, experiment with and create advances in privacy technology for the web.

TRP: What is your favourite Firefox moment from the last 10 years?

JN: Right now. Firefox initiated choice, innovation and opportunity online. We've come a long way and we created this vibrant competition for the web where our users have totally co-opted our platform around standardisation and openness, and we believe that openness and interoperability are essential.

Today is exciting because we are talking about technological innovation everywhere in Mozilla – new features for users focused on privacy, partnerships with other organisations who are all working to make the web a better place, all our developer tools in one bespoke browser.

Every release since Firefox 1 shipped a decade ago is something that we are immensely proud of. Each release represents the huge amount of work we have put together in order to try to make the web better. The effects of that work shine particularly brightly this week.

While it is great to be able to stand where we are and look back over the last 10 years to see how far we have come, what is more inspiring is the energy we have to fight today's fights and do the things we know we have yet to do. There hasn't been a better time.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.