By Gregg Keizer
Mozilla this week upgraded Firefox to version 79, patching 10 vulnerabilities without making any notable changes that users will see.
Of the 10 security bugs, Mozilla marked four as “High,” the browser’s second-most-serious label.
Firefox 79 can be downloaded for Windows, macOS and Linux from Mozilla’s site. Because Firefox updates in the background, most users will get the latest version just by relaunching the browser. To manually update on Windows, pull up the menu under the three horizontal bars at the upper right, then click the help icon (the question mark within a circle). Choose “About Firefox.” (On macOS, “About Firefox” can be found under the “Firefox” menu.) The resulting page shows that the browser is either up to date or displays the in-process refresh.
Mozilla now upgrades Firefox every four weeks, a shorter cadence than rivals like Google’s Chrome or Microsoft’s Edge. Mozilla last upgraded the browser on June 30.
With a tight release schedule of rolling out a new version every 28 days, it’s not surprising that some upgrades add little to the browser’s visible features and functionality. Firefox 79 is one such upgrade.
Although Mozilla called out some under-the-hood improvements – WebRender support for more Intel and AMD graphics processors, for one – and several changes of interest to developers, there was nothing to pitch to users.
That’s understandable, of course. But it was also a lost opportunity to offer something new to users in a time when Firefox continues to struggle maintaining its already small share. As of June 30, the most recent measurement by analytics company Net Applications, Firefox accounted for only 7.2% of all browser activity across the world, a mark 2.3 points fewer than 12 months prior. (That meant Firefox lost almost a quarter of its share in the past year.)
Mozilla also addressed a handful of bugs related to its enterprise edition – Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) – and how IT administrators manage the browser using group policies.
The organization took advantage of the paucity of new features to remind those enterprise customers of the upcoming transition of ESR versions. The final ESR based on last year’s Firefox 68 will be issued Aug. 25, Mozilla said, and all those who hadn’t upgraded to 2020’s ESR, Firefox 78, will be forcibly migrated to the latter starting Sept. 22.
The next Mozilla upgrade, Firefox 80, will be released Aug. 25.
Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.