From the ‘Plugin Improvement‘ files:
One of the big things that Google Chrome introduced is the idea of out of process plugins. It’s something that has now (finally!) landed in Mozilla — albeit in the Alpha 2 release of Firefox 3.7 (officially called Mozilla Developer Preview 3.7 Alpha 2).
When I visited Mozilla Toronto back in January, Mike Beltzner Director of Firefox explained to me what the big deal was with out-process-plugins (read the linked story for full details).
Basically it means less browser crashing and better performance for the browser as plugin processes are isolated. Plugins are things like Flash which can often be the culprit when a browser grinds to a halt.
As part of the testing phase with the new 3.7 alpha 2, crash reports from plugin processes are now submitted
automatically. In the limited usage that I’ve had thus far, I haven’t noticed any abnormal plugin behavior at all.
Unlike Chrome, there isn’t a specific Task Manager type menu to specifically see how much memory a plugin may be using so it’s difficult as a regular end-user to see the actual impact. But so far so good.
The Alpha 2 follows the alpha 1 release by just under a month. While out-of-process plugins are now in the 3.7 build, I’d also expect them to show up in the 3.6.x Lorentz branch soon too for regular users. Mozilla’s Lorentz is an effort to put new features (that don’t break backwards compatibility) into the current release cycle — as a way to expedite innovation.