Firefox removes support for installing web applications on the desktop. It was a feature quite popular in Chromium and its derivatives.
What Mozilla specifically removing is the support for SSB (“site-specific browser”). SSB is a mechanism to create web applications that are integrated into the desktop with its own icon in the application menu and task manager. This mechanism showed the native window border and the interface of the application in question, thus offering a browser-independent application appearance.
This was a common feature in Chrome in which Mozilla had been using for some time. Since it could only used by activating advanced preferences and because according to the company the effort does not compensate them for how little their users use this feature, they have decided to remove it.
“Our focus is on developing and exposing features that provide real value to our users,” Romain Testard, product manager at Mozilla, commented on the matter. “Initial exploration showed that [the current web app approach] would not provide that value,” he added.
This is interesting because Google claims the opposite, that more and more users are using SSB web apps on both desktop and mobile.
On the other hand, Mozilla will maintain SSB support on mobile, but not on desktop.
The big problem with Mozilla’s decision, however, is not only the end of SSB support, but this component is one of those that make the most sense for progressive web apps (PWA). PWA is one of the trends that are settling for the many advantages they offer and that in addition to Chrome, is getting a lot of attention in Microsoft Edge and also has a place in the rest of Chromium derivatives. Firefox now refusing to implement SSB support significantly affects future of PWA support in Firefox.
“The signal I hope we’re sending is that PWA support is not coming soon to desktop Firefox,” Firefox architect Dave Townsend said last December.
In short, this is terrible news for Firefox users and for Mozilla itself, whose decisions seem to be determined. They consider offering PWA support is something in a secondary place, but tweaking the Firefox interface, redesigned three years ago, has a priority.