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Firefox Friday: Open Apps, Open Games, Open UI... and the world's fastest JavaScript engine

Good afternoon! Firefox Friday has been decidedly absent from the luridly green pages of Download Squad over the last few weeks, but it returns today with vengeance.

A lot has been happening at Mozilla, with developments emerging on all fronts. As always we've covered the most important bits, but there's still a lot more to tell you about.

Let's crack on with the first and perhaps most telling titbit:

Mozilla has a new CEO: Gary Kovacs

John Lilly, after almost three years at the top, has stepped aside for newcomer Gary Kovacs. Kovacs has a ton of experience in product management (10 years at IBM), and also significant knowledge of rich media and the mobile Web (5 years at Macromedia, then Adobe). For further reading, Lilly has a great blog post introducing Kovacs.

With this appointment it's clear that Mozilla is fully invested in making Firefox the best browser, both on the desktop and on mobile devices. If you thought the difference between Firefox 3.6 and 4.0 was a big leap, you can only begin to imagine what 5.0 will bring with Kovacs at the helm.

Game On 2010: the judges are announced, and the first fruits of the competition begin to trickle in

The new Game On competition always struck me as rather unMozilla. When I picture the average Mozillan, many kind adjectives pop into my mind but gamer isn't one of them. Still, if you had any doubts, take a look at the list of judges. There are 30 of them, and while they're not all A-listers, there are some big names from Zynga, Facebook, Palm, and more. Almost everyone that's anyone in the JavaScript community is on the list!

If you want to get in on the action, there are already tons of resources on the Game On website. You should probably subscribe read the Game On blog, too.

Also worth noting, if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, is that the next Mozilla Labs Night (October 28) will be a 'Gaming Special'. I'm not quite sure what it will entail, but the Labs Nights are usually a lot of fun... so sign up and head on down to Mountain View! [I wish I lived in San Francisco...]

Mozilla finally plays its next hand in the Apps War: Open Web Applications

Earlier this year, at the Mozilla Summit, attendees were asked what would make the perfect Web App Store. A lot of heated discussion ensued, but ultimately the summit ended and radio silence descended. This week Mozilla Labs broke that silence with the release of the Open Web Applications Technology Overview and the new website.

The concept is brilliant, and there's a demo App Store and Directory that you can play with today. The most important part, however, is that Open Web App developers will have the option of self-publishing their software. This is in stark contrast to the Google-centralised Chrome offering -- and light years ahead of the Mac App Store.

We're not quite at the stage where HTML, JavaScript, CSS and SVG are ready to replace every desktop app, but the Open Web App specification has come just at the right time. Mozilla may just have secured the future platform for all installed apps.

Build your own browser with Mozilla Labs Chromeless

Have you ever looked at the Firefox UI, at that big orange button, and thought to yourself 'hmm... I could do it better'? Well, now's your chance! Using HTML, CSS and JavaScript you can now create your own browser interface.

Chromeless is a pre-alpha prototype at the moment (grab the code here), but the team has grand plans to make browser UI design as 'easy as designing a Web page'. It's an interesting concept that, like all forms of crowdsourcing, might turn up some fantastic new designs.

Last, but by no means least, Firefox JavaScript performance pulls ahead of Chrome and Safari

Launched by the JavaScript team at Mozilla, ARE WE FAST YET? details the reassuringly steady improvement of Firefox's JavaScript engine. Up until yesterday the site featured a huge 'NO' at the bottom of the page -- today... well, you can see for yourself!

Basically -- and you have to admit this is pretty darn impressive -- it has only taken three months for Mozilla to reach Chrome and Safari's level of JavaScript performance. This is only the result of one synthetic benchmark, so the results are hardly authoritative -- but then again, Firefox still leads the 'real world' Kraken benchmark, too.

* * *
Not a bad week for Mozilla, then! Open Web Apps, Open Web Games and even an Open User Interface -- and they're all powered by the fastest JavaScript engine in the world.

Tags: browsers, firefox, firefox friday five, FirefoxFridayFive, internet, mozilla, web