Firefox 17.0 launches with integrated Facebook Messenger

Mozilla makes the web more social

Firefox and Facebook sitting in a tree

Mozilla has released the latest Firefox update, version 17 by its count, which adds a new social API.

The social API allows for a persistent social sidebar that gives users direct access to chatting with their social networks while surfing the web.

As a partnership between Mozilla and Facebook, the first social feature for Firefox 17.0 is Facebook Messenger.

Turning the Facebook Messenger feature on opens up the Facebook chat sidebar on the right side of the browser along with notifications at the top for incoming comments, photo tags, and other notifications.

What's new in Firefox 17?

While Facebook Messenger is the only social sidebar out for Firefox 17 right now, the social API will make it possible for other social networks to build their own similarly integrated tools.

Also new in Firefox 17 is the click-to-play blocklisting feature for plug-ins. With the feature, Firefox will no longer automatically run web content that uses an out-of-date plug-in, such as if the computer's version of Flash needs to be updated.

Users can still manually click on content to run using older plug-ins, or allow Firefox to try and install a newer version of the plug-in.

The other big change in the new version of Firefox is that Mozilla has finally cut off support for Mac OS X 10.5. Safari dropped Leopard support last year, and Chrome followed suit a few weeks ago, making Opera the only major browser to still support the legacy Apple OS.

Mozilla also recently overhauled Firefox for Android, making its mobile browser compatible with nearly 250 million more Android smartphones on the market.

Mozilla is banking on social features to make Firefox fit more easily into its users' lives. Facebook Messenger is a good start, while Twitter and Reddit sidebars can't be too far behind.