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21 November 2012, 12:07

Firefox 17 previews Facebook integration

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Version 17 of Mozilla's Firefox web browser introduces a new Social API that allows the browser to integrate with social media sites. The first social service to be included, though currently only available as a preview, is Facebook.

The Facebook Messenger integration allows users to chat with other users, confirm friend requests, read messages and view notifications in the new "social sidebar". The Facebook support is disabled by default; users running Firefox 17 can enable it by clicking "Turn On" on the Messenger for Firefox web page.

Zoom The latest version of Firefox includes support for Facebook Messenger
Source: Mozilla
In order to prevent older insecure versions of plugins from running without the user's explicit permission, Firefox 17 now includes a click-to-play blocklisting feature. This blocks known vulnerable or out-of-date plugins, such as older versions of Adobe Flash, Reader or Microsoft Silverlight, from loading by default. Users are warned instead that their plugins should be updated and given the option to load them anyway. Security has further been improved by implementing the Sandbox attribute for frames.

Other changes include updates to the "Awesome Bar" smart URL bar and fixes for a large number of bugs. Among the numerous fixes, Mozilla says that the new version has more than twenty performance improvements, including fixes to the New Tab page, and the developers have also closed a total of 16 security holes in Firefox, 6 of which are rated as "Critical". The update no longer supports systems running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

The new version of Firefox also includes several changes aimed at developers. The Web Console, Debugger and Developer Toolbar have been improved and are said to be faster and easier to use, and a new Markup panel has been added to the Page Inspector to simplify editing of the DOM. A full list of developer-specific changes can be found on the Firefox 17 for developers page.

Firefox 17 also marks the start of a new Extended Support Release (ESR) which was made available alongside Firefox 10.0.11 ESR. The ESR releases are designed for enterprises and other organisations that require a stable qualified version of the browser with a longer release cycle. Firefox ESR 17.0 is just beginning its qualification process and Mozilla will release another 10.0.x branch update when the first update to Firefox ESR 17, 17.0.1, arrives. The update after that, 17.0.2, is expected to be the first fully qualified 17.0.x version.

More details about Firefox 17, including a list of known issues, can be found in the announcement blog post and in the release notes. Version 17 is available to download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from the project's site and is licensed under the Mozilla Public Licence 2.0.

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