Firefox 4 takes inspiration from Microsoft

Mozilla is seeking inspiration from Microsoft Office for the revamped user interface of Firefox 4.

The browser maker is plotting a major overhaul of the Firefox user interface, considering ideas such as full Aero-like transparency and moving tabs to the top of the screen in a similar fashion to Google Chrome.

However, a blog post from Firefox contributor Stephen Horlander suggests Google isn’t the only company Mozilla’s borrowing ideas from. The browser maker is also considering implementing an “App button”, similar to the File button in Microsoft Office 2010, that will replace all the menu options that currently run along the top of the browser window.

“One of the more challenging, not to mention contentious, aspects of the Firefox UI update has been how to handle the MenuBar,” Horlander writes. “On our first pass we were informed by how Safari and Chrome had handled this problem by paring down all menu items into two separate Page and Tools buttons. This approach has a few advantages but also some disadvantages. The new proposed approach to this problem is an App Button which is similar to the single menu approach taken by Windows 7 native applications (Paint, WordPad) and by MS Office.”

Firefox 4

Horlander says Mozilla will likely call this the “Firefox button”, because it relates to all the functions of Firefox. Like Microsoft Office, the button will also be placed in the top-left corner. “One of the benefits of the App Button is that it is similar to the way Microsoft is treating its native apps and Office,” Horlander said. “Another benefit is that the placement is closer to where the Menubar would be and therefore it is more familiar.”

Mozilla isn’t planning to release Firefox 4 until the tail end of 2010, so there’s still plenty of time for fiddling with the UI.

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