The worm is beginning to turn. For a long time Google's Chrome browser has been playing catch-up, trying to emulate the best features of its competitors. It nabbed its start page from Opera, its add-ons from Firefox and... well... nothing much from IE.
But now it's reached a point where it's starting to give other browsers a few lessons in how things should be done. The most recent release of Opera - 10.5 - featured a stripped down, minimalist interface that's clearly inspired by Chrome. Now, Firefox has shifted its unwieldy add-ons manager into a tab, in the same manner that Chrome does.
There's a few features of the new Firefox add-ons manager that are worth highlighting. Firstly, you can view and edit which search engines you've got installed. Languages, themes and plugins can also be accessed from the same interface. Also, as it's now a local page, rather than a pop-out box, it can be bookmarked and accessed that way, rather than having to go through a series of menus.
There's a whole wealth of changes to the backend that developers will appreciate too - including the ability to enable silent updates to your add-ons - though these have to be approved by the user, to prevent malicious add-ons from causing trouble.
The new add-ons manager will be present in the next major Firefox patch. Keep your eyes peeled for that.