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Jun 28 2018

Meet Firefox 61!

Mozilla has updated the stable version of its browser and added a number of goodies that speed up page rendering, simplify tab management and enhance security.

The fresh stable version, Firefox 61, was launched on Tuesday this week (June 26) and is available for download in dozens of localized versions from the Mozilla web page. The release notes provide a compact overview of enhancements and new features:

  • Quantum CSS, launched with Firefox 57, had already helped to significantly shorten page rendering times by calculating computed styles in parallel. Firefox 61 accelerates the process even further, by also parallelizing the parsing steps. According to Mozilla officials, "sites with large stylesheets and complex layouts" stand to benefit most from this improvement.
  • The new Retained Display Lists function helps to speed up page reloads: Firefox uses so-called display lists to determine which elements of a given web page (backgrounds, borders, box shadows, text, etc.) users will see on their screen. Older Firefox versions always had to rebuild these lists from scratch whenever a page refresh was due, which would have particularly negative effects on pages with high refresh rates, for instance in online games requiring frame rates of 60 fps or higher. With retained display lists, the browser now keeps standard elements that are identical across the board and only rebuilds the parts of a page that have changed – and can help shorten refresh times in a similar way as delta updates cut the duration of software upgrades.
  • Tab Warming adds a new process of pre-emptively rendering the layers of a tab the user is likely to switch to and uploading them to the browser's compositor. That way, the layers are already complete when the switch finally happens. To determine which will be the next in line, Firefox simply observes where a user points her or his cursor.
  • With regard to security and user/data protection, Firefox 61 now supports TLS 1.3 by default and blocks FTP subresource loads within HTTP/HTTPS pages.
  • New comfort functions include easily adding new search engines via the page action menu, better support for the new dark theme across the entire user interface, and a function enabling WebExtensions to "hide" tabs, which comes in particularly handy for users who tend to keep dozens of tabs open.

A list of fixed security holes and vulnerabilities with severity ratings ranging from critical to moderate is available here.


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