In my bumblings while beta testing Firefox 4.0 and after the discussions held at last years Add-on Con it looks like Mozilla will be launching Firefox 4 this fall along with some type of Add-on store. This store will still provide many free add-ons but it will also include Pro versions of your favorite add-ons that you can pay for as well as entirely paid for add-ons. So now the question arises; does this move by Mozilla run contrary to the core beliefs of providing a better web experience free of charge? The argument from their side is obviously that charging you for the use of certain add-ons will encourage competition between developers. A little competition is a good thing and hopefully that competition will mean a higher quality of add-ons for users like us.
Sadly, there are always those people out there who will shy away from anything that ceases being 100% free. The idea of free add-ons was once a monopoly held by Mozilla but now with Chrome’s extensions library what will keep people using the Firefox marketplace? If they do go ahead with these pay as you go add-ons, how will developers deal with the sister extensions they may have available for free on Chrome? These questions lead one to think the add-ons in the library that are pay-only will be those that are exclusive to Firefox.
Despite potential drawbacks in their new marketplace I predict that people will be attracted to Firefox 4 over Chrome all because of one feature. Firefox 4 will feature and the beta already features GPU accelerated browsing. While Mozilla is not alone in promising GPU acceleration (Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome 7 have it in the works as well), it is the first to deliver it in a working form. With its pre-packaged Direct 2D hardware acceleration Firefox 4 is sure to be the hot new browser this fall. So whether you switched to Chrome, have never left Internet Explorer or have remained a die-hard Mozilla fan take heart in knowing Firefox 4.0 in all its sleek, fast goodness is on its way to a desktop near you come this November.