Last Saturday marked the release of the Firefox update version 3.6.6. This new update from Mozilla does not feature anything groundbreaking. Instead, the update was released with the intent of correcting the plug-in crash protection feature that had been generating several complaints from users of the popular browser.
The plug-in crash protection feature was initially released at the beginning of last week in the Firefox version 3.6.4 update. It is formally labeled the Out-of-Process-Plug-in feature, or OOPP, and was created to allow the browser's users to experience uninterrupted browsing should a specific plug-in crash. Among the plug-ins on OOPP's “target list” are Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash, both of which support media content while browsing.
Many people mistake plug-ins for add-ons or extensions, which is not the case. A plug-in is basically a separate program that will allow a user to view content such as videos or photos within the browser.
While in the past some plug-ins would crash and cause the entire browser to shut down, OOPP would limit the crash to the component using the plug-in itself and shut it down, allowing the user to continue using the other non-conflicted parts of the browser. For example, if you were visiting the New York Times' website and were viewing a video and that plug-in crashed, only the video would become unviewable, and you could still surf other parts of the site. Some browser-wide crashes would still be possible despite the presence of OOPP, but Mozilla said their frequency would be greatly reduced.
Although the OOPP feature was highly anticipated and a welcome addition, many users were complaining that it would shut down plug-ins too quickly in the event of a crash. In version 3.6.4, OOPP was set to shut down plug-ins after only 10 seconds of being unresponsive. This caused trouble for many users, as they complained that the default time limit was too short and would shut down many games that they were playing. Fans of the popular Farmville game for Facebook were at the forefront of the complaints.
The problem also seemed to be experienced mostly by those who used older computers with lesser technology where one would expect slower response times. Prior to officially releasing version 3.6.4, Firefox beta-tested it with over 1 million users to try to work out all the kinks. The short default timeout obviously was not fixed or addressed.
To counter this problem, version 3.6.6 was released as an automatic update. It extends the default timeout from the previous 10 seconds all the way up to 45 seconds, giving plug-ins more leeway in responding. This prevents premature plug-in shutdowns. The OOPP feature is available only to Windows and Linux users at this time. Mac users, although also offered a new 3.6.6 update, will have to wait for further updates to reap the OOPP benefits.
To read more about Firefox 3.6.6, visit: http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2010/06/26/firefox-3-6-6-now-available-for-download/
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