Firefox 4.0: IE7 revisited?

I saw the Firefox 4.0 screenshot mockups today and I have to say, it reminds me of Internet Explorer 7 more than anything else. Check out this side-by-side:

Ugh. I really don’t get it. Do they really need to dumb down the Firefox interface even more than it already is? I seriously hope that the final release of it includes an option that lets one bring back some of the stuff they seem intent on removing (like menus for basic things… “file”, “edit”, “view”, et al?). I mean seriously… even IE7 lets one do that much…

I know it’s not open source, but I still prefer Opera as far as an interface goes. I can rearrange, add, remove, or tweak various elements of it to work exactly how I want, and it doesn’t fight me every step of the way. It already includes functionality for which (to make it equivalent) I have to install no fewer than 5 extensions to Firefox 3.5, and is a smaller download, uses far less memory, and is faster on top of everything else.

I wish Opera would GPL their browser… if they did, it’d be the perfect choice for me.

Or, alternatively I could make this request of the Firefox developers. Guys, if you MUST emulate someone else’s proprietary browser’s interface and functionality, might I suggest NOT emulating Microsoft’s back-assward response to your OWN efforts from 5 years ago? IE7 has always seemed to me like a really bad Firefox 1.0 Beta. WHY on earth would you want to emulate that?

I’m positively baffled here, guys. Seriously. I understand that you’re just brainstorming, but don’t even joke about this as a starting point.

And another thing. If you decide NOT to emulate IE7 (like in the first screenshot), PLEASE don’t emulate Google Chrome by making the tabs at the top (like in the second screenshot). That’s even worse, in my opinion.

Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Firefox 4.0: IE7 revisited?

  1. Man, you really hate FF. All the functionality for what you want is available through extensions, thus keeping the basic FF lightweight. It’s a good thing.

    You do have a damn good point about making it look like IE7, though. I think I know why they’re eliminating the menubar. I, like most, have limited vertical screen real estate, so for when I’m viewing images, video, or whatever in my browser I try to keep as little browser interface there as possible. I think both FF and MS are trending towards freeing up space for browsing.

    What I’d really like to see is the URL bar across the top, the tab bar across the top, the menubar down the side, and my bookmark toolbar down the side. I don’t think there’s a way to do all that.

    I’d also REALLY like to see the rest of the menubar put to use, perhaps as more area for bookmarks. I’ve never understood why all that extra space is wasted in every damn app in every operating system.

    • I don’t “hate” Firefox as much as I am just frustrated with its philosophy.

      Running it without extensions lacks a lot of the functionality with which I’ve become spoiled from using Opera for years — sane tab behavior, mouse gestures, a built-in BitTorrent client, content blocking, et al.

      But when I actually INSTALL all the extensions needed to bring the barebones Firefox UP to that point, it becomes a buggy, unstable memory hog, and it STILL lacks the flexibility in the interface that I’ve come to enjoy with Opera.

      While the tabbed browsing behavior is markedly improved in FF3.5, it still needs an extension to fix some of it (an extension, I might add, that still isn’t available for that version… ugh).

      I also just don’t like the fact that a supposedly “lightweight” browser is so heavy even WITHOUT all the extensions needed to add functionality to it. Bleah.

      That’s why I just wish the Opera folks would GPL Opera, or at least open up their API so that 3rd parties could code extensions for it easily — not that it’d need many.

      I want to like Firefox. But it always seems like a case of “okay, I’ll use Firefox. But I’ll have to live without Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z or face constant crashes and memory leaks.”

      So I figure why bother.

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  3. My frustration with Firefox is that they keep going in circles. First they get tabs like in Opera, then they move the close button to a common place (which looked horrible but turned out to be good usability-wise), then a couple of years later they move the close button back again!

    What’s up with that? If they did a usability study and came up with the result that the change was bad and they need to undo it, I want to see that explanation. Otherwise I’m just confused. (Which I doubt.) And the close button example is just an example, the same thing has happened with one-tab-only-behaviour, search engine selection etc.

  4. Man, don’t you think that IE7 looks like Firefox 3 (or 2 ?), and thus, yes, IE7 looks like Firefox 4.0 mockups too. It’s like saying “look, the fishes looks like mammal, they have the same shape as whales”. But no, whales looks like fish, just as IE7 looks like Firefox

    • Actually, I think it goes more like this. IE7 pretty much looks like itself. They (Microsoft) were trying to scramble to get some of the functionality that was wooing people away from IE6 (namely tabs and built-in popup controls), and that’s all they focused on. Interface was the last thing on their mind. Someone at MS must have said “Look, Firefox is minimalist. We should go SUPER minimalist and one up them!!!!”

      As a result, the interface in IE7 is missing stuff. Easily accessible buttons, menus, et cetera. If you look at Firefox 2 and 3 screenshots, there are still buttons for things, and there are still menus.

      Then all of the sudden these Firefox 4 mockups get made, and THEY are lacking menus, and lacking buttons in sane locations (home button on the tab bar? WTF? No reload button?) and totally missing useful menus (File? Edit? View? et cetera).

      No, IE7 went painfully minimalist to start with… the Firefox 4 mockup was definitely the Mozilla devs copying Microsoft.

      If you don’t believe me, go to Google Image Search and look at screenshots of IE7, then look at screenshots of Firefox 1, 2, 3, and then look at the mockup I linked of Firefox 4. You’ll see exactly who’s copying whom.

      Which brings me to my original point. They need to stop copying and just make what works. Stop removing functionality, stop removing useful things from the interface, stop dumbing down the usefulness of their browser.

  5. Yes, ok I understand your point of view now.
    But, maybe the lambda user don’t need to have such menus like file, edit, … and just want to go on facebook and youtube, so it’s better for firefox to go in this way and to minimize the interface. “Advanced users” can hack the thing by adding the buttons they want (by right clicking I presume, not so hard).

    By the way, less buttons means more space for the page, and that’s not bad (personnally, I’m using vimperator because I find all these buttons pretty useless and distrubing when you have some keybindings that do the same).

    But, it’s sure that both looks the same, and I think that before modifying the whole interface, Mozilla should care about some other things (like performance, even if they said that FF 3.5 was much faster than FF 3, it is not enough)

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