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Mozilla's Firefox 53 brings Quantum Compositor and new compact themes

Why it matters to you

If you're a Firefox user, you can download the latest version for enhanced stability and a more compact user interface.

The browser wars continue to rage, even as Google’s Chrome maintains its dominant position in the market. For example, Microsoft is working hard to improve Edge and gain back some of the market share it once enjoyed with Internet Explorer. For example, the recent Windows 10 Creators Update brought significant improvements to Edge’s functionality.

And today, Mozilla updated its own Firefox browser with some welcome features of its own. The latest version is Firefox 53, and it focuses on giving web pages more focus and making Firefox more stable.

First up is the introduction of Mozilla’s Project Quantum Compositor Process to Windows. A browser’s compositor is the software that flattens a web page’s elements and draws them as a single image. With Firefox 53 on Windows, the compositor is now run separately from the main program, go if the compositor crashes, it won’t take the entire browser down with it and can simply be restarted.

Next are new light and dark “compact” themes that are making their way to the production version of Firefox from the Firefox Developer Edition. These new themes aim to minimize user interface elements and thus maximize how much of a web page is shown on screen. The new themes can be selected by heading to the Themes menu in Customize mode.

Firefox 53 also brings new WebExtension features that introduce unique application programming interfaces (APIs) and support more Chrome APIs. These add-ons are meant to work with Chrome, Opera, and Edge in addition to Firefox. The new functionality includes the ability to clear browser information such as cache, cookies, and more, while also enabling OAuth2 token support. The Mozilla blog post provides a complete list of what’s new.

Some additional changes to Firefox 53 include a new modern look enabled in the default media experience and additional CSS support such as CSS masks to partially or fully hide visual elements. Finally, users of Windows 7 and later can now select between 32-bit and 64-bit Firefox during installation.

Firefox 53 is available Wednesday. If you’re running Windows XP or Vista, 32-bit MacOS, or Linux on a Pentium 4 or AMD Opteron, then you’re out of luck — Mozilla dropped support for those platforms with this version of Firefox.