Firefox 11 With Chrome Tools Is Prepped For Tuesday Release.
Mozilla is ready to launch the 11th generation of its web browser on Tuesday – and it will bring the long awaited Chrome data migration toolset with it. It’s a first feature that goes much more directly after Chrome and is an attempt to regain users that were lost to Google’s browsers.
2011 was a tough year for Mozilla. Not just in the view that Firefox has dropped significantly in market share and that Chrome has surpassed it. Probably the most damage was done by a rather slow moving roll out of some features that were first created by Mozilla contributors, but were adopted by Google first, stealing the spotlight and leaving the impression that Mozilla is just not able to compete anymore. Mozilla appeared, at times, aggressive only in the choice of its words when it attacked Microsoft and Google, but seemed rather timid when the focus was on features. After a long road of delays, we are now getting a few features that are designed to recoup some of the convenience that is offered by Chrome, combined with claims that Firefox is, in fact, making some considerable improvements under the hood, for example in memory performance.
Firefox 11 is not going to be a milestone release that will attract lots of attention, but there is one feature of particular interest. A few weeks ago, the beta of the browser got a feature that now allows users to import Chrome bookmarks, cookies and browsing history. It’s not complete yet, as Mozilla has yet to add passwords, form data and settings as well. However, the basic import function is now available and should make Firefox more attractive to those users who switched to Chrome a while ago, but may have second thoughts about Chrome as Firefox is catching back up.
Surprisingly, the import feature is somewhat hidden and not prominently featured. Users will have to select the bookmark button next to the search field, click on Show All Bookmarks, choose Import and Backup, and Import Data from Another Browser. This could probably be implement in a much more transparent way and Mozilla clearly undersells this feature for its browser. Also, the imported bookmarks are imported in a folder called “From Google Chrome” and there is no option to automatically organize the existing bookmarks in Firefox. Users making the switch have at least some manual work to do to organize their Chrome bookmarks as they are available in Chrome. The good news, however, is that this feature worked flawlessly on four computers here and Mozilla successfully eliminated a hurdle that keeps Chrome users from using Firefox.
Of course, Mozilla is late with this feature and it has taken way too long to make it available, but it’s clearly a situation of better late than never. With a reasonable marketing push, Mozilla should be able to continue the stabilizing trend of its market share and create a foundation to gain back market share. By mid-2012, we should expect Mozilla to have made further improvements: So far, Firefox 12 is rather insignificant from the feature side, but Firefox 13, due on June 5, will get web apps integration, a new new tab page, the home tab application, smooth scrolling, inline URL autocomplete, automatic session restore and a new incremental garbage collector. At this point, Mozilla indicates that only the web apps integration might see a delay and if the current roadmap will actually translate into an actual roadmap, Firefox 13 could be a browser that Google should pay attention to.