Firefox 53 includes one of the first elements of Mozilla's Project Quantum, which aims to take advantage of multi-core hardware and the wide availability of devices incorporating GPUs. The new Quantum Compositor promises to speed up Firefox and prevent graphics crashes on Windows by running the graphics compositor separate to the main Firefox process.
The Quantum Compositor runs on the GPU instead of the CPU, which means it should go faster. And if the graphics compositor crashes, it won't bring down all of Firefox because it's a separate process. In testing, the Quantum Compositor reduced browser crashes by about 10 percent.
Mozilla said Quantum Compositor will be available for about 70 percent of Firefox users -- those running Windows 10, 8, and 7 with the Platform Update, on computers with graphics cards from Intel, Nvidia, or AMD.
Firefox 53 for the desktop also has two new themes: Compact Light and Compact Dark, and a redesigned interface for granting and managing website permissions. When a website wants to access sensitive hardware or send you a notification, you'll be prompted with a dialog box that explicitly highlights the permissions that site is requesting.
Mozilla said Firefox 53 won't support Windows XP and Vista, although XP and Vista users running Firefox 52 will continue to receive security updates on Firefox ESR 52 -- the extended support release. Neither XP nor, more recently, Vista are supported by Microsoft, although XP at least still has a surprisingly large following.
Apple's 32-bit Mac OS X is no longer supported either: Mozilla said that 32-bit Mac OS X users can switch to Firefox ESR 52 to continue receiving security updates. Mozilla has also ended Firefox Linux support for processors older than Pentium 4 and AMD Opteron.