Mozilla redesigns Firefox web browser starting with Firefox 29 beta

Mozilla has been working on a design overhaul for its Firefox web browser for a while, and now you can take the new user interface for a spin by installing Firefox 29 beta.

The menus, toolbars and tabs take up less screen space and the menu button has been moved… to about the same place as the Google Chrome menu button. While the new browser borrows a lot of ideas from Chrome, that’s not necessarily a bad thing since the less space the browser menus take up, the more space you have for websites.

firefox 29 beta_02

Firefox 29 beta also introduces a new customization mode that lets you drag and drop items such as browser history, sync, or download, or add-on icons to your toolbar.

The Firefox Sync feature which lets you keep your browser data synchronized between computers and mobile devices has also been updated to use the new Firefox Accounts feature.

But it’s the new user interface which is by far the most notable new feature in Firefox 29 beta. Soon it’ll be the default UI for all versions of the browser.

Firefox 29 beta is now available for download for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

  • Tony Casagrande

    How much space do you need for web sites? I run a 22″ 1680×1050 display, with Firefox displaying full menus and a bookmark sidebar always open and there’s gobs of white space on the sides of every webpage I visit. Gaining a hundred or so pixels on top doesn’t stop me using my scroll wheel, so what the heck is the point? Oh right, laptops and their stupid 1366×768 displays. Slight trolling aside, laptops are getting the high-res treatment this next generation, so why is there this need to strip all the functional menu bits for more screen real estate we don’t need?

    • po

      It’d be useful on my future 8″ Windows 8 tablet where high PPI isn’t necessarily a good thing unless it’s high enough where you can make use of pixel doubling. Using DPI scaling on the Windows desktop to make text and UI elements larger on small high PPI screens is still an awkward experience.

      • John Morris

        Sorter and more accurate version:

        “Using [snip] the Windows desktop [snip] is still an awkward experience.”

        Using Windows for Internet access is a waste of resources.

  • JD

    I like the current Firefox interface. I hope there will be an add-on to keep the current look in future versions. Seriously, if I wanted to use the Chrome interface, I’d be using Chrome instead of Firefox.

    • JD

      This is yet another example of a company trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.

      • meerkat440

        Firefox UI was terrible (just like old IE). Chrome did it right, cleaning all the ridiculous menu and the wasted space. Browsers need only few things, and vertical space is a serious issue wirh 16:9 screens.

      • GG

        it was clean enough you probably tried firefox v2 or 3

      • JD

        I agree. I’m not sure which version meerkat has been using, but the Firefox menu has been simple and clean for a long time.

      • Ryan

        Funny thing, people hated Firefox 4 when it first came out and wanted to revert back to 3.6.x. I bet all these people will be over the Firefox 29+ look.

        Btw, I’m on Firefox 30 now but just making a point and I’m fine with the new GUI.

    • Caspy7
      • JD

        thanks

  • bon

    I have for years used the Stylish add-on to have a minimal interface in Firefox with tabs at the very top of the window and below them one single row that includes both buttons and the url bar. Total height: 47 pixels. The new Firefox versions looks to use up at least twice the amout of space at the top.

  • Tsais

    Oh please, Mozilla… wanna be Chrome much?

    The slanted tab sides waste space that could be used to display tab content.

    The ONLY thing good about Chrome is its CPU and RAM efficiency and its stable flash implementation.

    So if you, Mozilla must copy Chrome, just copy the good parts, and especially fix your Flash sand boxing tech, which is still crash prone when you have a lot of youtube tabs open.

    And finally, quit redesigning for redesigning’s sake!

    Just make it efficient, stable and skinnable!

    I can’t count the useful features and addons I’ve lost to your constant redoing and deprecating.

    • Rex

      NOTICE, I’m on Firefox 31.01, so my info might be different from the typical Firefox user

      First of all I MUST agree I hate the new tabs. Not only that, but the entire address bar is much fatter and wastes ALOT of screen space, I have been on the redesigned Firefox for over a month now, only good part of it is the increased custom ability (you can drag buttons and place them where ever)

      However, Chrome is not efficient by any means. It divides itself into several small processes (roughly 50-80mb of ram each), which allows Chrome itself to run incredibly smooth, but really not for anyone that runs something other than just a web browser in conjunction (most people use only have a web browser open, which will work well for them, but not well for people that run many programs at once, like me….)

      The flash sandboxing seems to be completely fixed on the newest version of Firefox (31). For accuracy sake, I tested your scenario of having 15 youtube videos playing at the same time, nothing happen, and no lag (I have 6gb RAM and AMD A8, so others may have different results than me).

      • Tsais

        @Rex thanks for testing that!

        As for Chrome, I just know I can run Chrome on internet cafe machines in the Philippines that use 486 machines with 256MB or RAM. Firefox bogs down hopelessly after opening 3 tabs. Chrome still runs fine with about 10 tabs.

        Chrome seems to be opening a new process for every tab you open, but whatever it is they’re doing, its good for crappy computers ^^

        Still, I prefer Firefox, because Mozilla doesn’t reign in add-ons they don’t like, like Google does and a few other reasons.

    • boi

      Regain some of the wasted screen space through a Userstyle. This is the one I’m using right now: http://userstyles.org/styles/100553/firefox-australis-slim-squared-tabs-transparent

  • boonesimpson

    When chrome was released, I didn’t love the ui, but used the Dom inspector for work. The browser on droid offered sync and firefox didn’t support my droid 1 so I made the switch To chrome. Every piece of news out of Mozilla in the past few years only serves to remind me I made the right decision.

  • Pickles

    If they’re copying Chrome then they should copy its Flash integration. Especially for the Linux version.

    Also add smooth pinch zoom and better page dragging/text selection since they killed off the Modern UI version.

    • Rex

      Although very similar, you should notice that their “menu” is completely redone and is no longer a full menu like in Chrome, although I can see many striking resemblances such as tab shape (I really hate the tab shapes, should have left them square)

      This article is very dated, I’m currently on Firefox 31.01, which has been out for a while now.

      • Nathan Hubbard

        I’m not sure if you’re joking or not, but I pulled the source for latest and built it yesterday. It’s marked as 29.0a1. This is correct that 29, when released will have the new interface.

        As for the interface, I’ve been using it for a while now and while I see no actual advantage to the changes, it does feel much more confusing when trying to access certain things, like the “About Firefox” page for example.

      • tu

        The latest build is at 31. There are different development branches: release, beta, aurora and central. They’re at versions 28, 29, 30 and 31, relatively. He’s using the central branch.

  • shaurz

    As long as they still allow me to re-enable the menu bar I’m fine with that. At least the menu button is a better idea than the top-left orange tab thing. But I prefer the old style tabs.

  • fzier

    WTG FF. If it ain’t broke, keep fixing it till it s. You’ve succeded!

  • Matt

    The bookmarks I’ve tiled along my menu bar for fastest access look terrible now! They put the font onto a shadow, which just makes it look smudgy and blurred.

  • lakshay

    the addon buttons are very small. cant find an option to inc its size… having a negligible work offline is bugging me.. :(

  • Mike H

    29 is gonna be a disaster. I dont know anyone who prefers it over 28.

    • jonk

      I prefer 29! The simple thing that so many people miss is this: each new version of Firefox improves things under the hood. And the hood itself, the user interface design, continues to be easily and radically customizable through add-ons and userstyles. Firefox is very much a community product. If a user dislikes this or that visual change then he/she can react constructively by trying out add-ons or userstyles and telling others about that. I think Mozilla is partly responsible for not making that more clear to users but a lot of advanced users should also know better by now. Let me add that I mean this as a general comment and not as a critique of you Mike H. Cheers.

      • Void

        Yes things like memory leaking. Now in FF29 you leak even more memory and a lot faster ! Oh how I love when my FF only takes 3gb of ram…

  • c5979829

    If i would want a browser that looks like chrome i would use chrome.

    Very sad, Firefox is now the next Opera.

  • Choda Boy

    If I wanted to use Chrome, I would use Chrome. If I wanted FF to look and act like Chrome, I would use Chrome. I have used Firefox from the very first version. They have finally convinced me to give up on FF and move to something else. Great job, idiots.

  • Mo Jo

    Firefox 29 is a step back into the dumb spiny logo days… Wheeeeeeee!
    http://youtu.be/BPck9yBGPrg

  • jwilson

    What pissed me off the most was that there was no warning of a new version, I actually got a security warning (never trust one of those again). It does seem a bit faster and it does seem to be dropping memory when you close tabs. First I had to get rid of the sloping tabs, installing colorful tabs did that, next I went to

    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-to-make-new-firefox-look-like-old-firefox#w_restore-tabs-on-bottom-and-other-options

    where I found that you can

    Install the Classic Theme Restorer Add-on
    Use the customize screen to drag things around, turn on extra toolbars and use small icons
    Restore tabs on bottom and other options

    This updates seems to have pissed a lot of people off, so perhaps Firefox could ask people before they force software on them, you know, like every other company does.

    I agree about the comments saying don’t copy Chrome, it is awful, uses way to much memory and does not respect your wishes about privacy (run ccleaner to see).

    One thing I have noticed is that when I load lots of videos from YouTube and Vimeo there are not the hugely expanding Flash processes (that cause browser to crash) that there were before. My daily use will be a sweat test, so I am going to see if I can break it now.

  • Bolkey

    It is like improving the front door. Except that after the change the door is to be found in a side wall…

    Technically still the best browser, but the organisation is far from professional.
    Yet another downgrade. Where can I find Mozilla 28..?

  • Enrique I

    My mozilla upgraded yesterday to 29 and…. it’s awful!!
    I’m just looking how to reverb to my old interface. Mozilla developers: What a shame!

  • essmeier

    I upgraded to v29 yesterday. This morning, I spent an hour installing numerous addons intended to give the new UI the old look. I never did get it right and then I thought, “Why don’t I just reinstall v28?”

    Took 60 seconds. I’ve turned off updates and I’m not updating again.

    Version 29 is awful

  • LingoMan49

    Looks like crap! I will roll it back, if I can. I can’t stand the cramped upper bar, now. Terrible! Why do these companies all seem to make things WORSE with each “improved” version?

  • dant2590

    Luckily I caught it on 2 of my computers after it installed itself on my oldest computer. 29 is awful. I actually like having the NAME of the icons in my toolbar. Can’t do it on 29. Why do they change a good thing that people like??

  • asqreg
  • Bob

    this is end user suicide for firefox – I spent an hour trying to get some logic of the old interface back then gave up & unistalled whole program – if you try and imitate the big new browser competition out there then you are guaranteed to lose – firefox needed to remain what they always were, a clique alternative browser with relatively limited market share, chasing chrome won’t make an overnight leap in user base – actually will just decimate the old user base