Software isn't just about functionality anymore, users want brains and beauty. And beauty, as we know, is in the eye of the beholder, which is why the team behind Firefox 3 plans to ditch the unified cross-platform look of the browser in favor of a sexier look tailored to specific operating systems. Rather than a single look across all platforms, which is the way Firefox currently ships, Firefox 3 will feature different skins for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X and various Linux distributions. Alex Faaborg, Mozilla's interface designer, posted a note on his blog yesterday about the divergent themes coming for Firefox 3. Echoing the sentiments of many a Mac Firefox user, Faaborg writes, "personally I think a unified cross platform UI results in applications that at best feel foreign everywhere, and at worst don't even feel like real applications."
With both Windows Vista and the upcoming OS X Leopard, there is an increasing focus on sexy visual appeal, and fitting in with the unique visual design each platform has clearly become an integral part of building software. Some might argue that this comes at the expense of new features, but the trend shows no signs of abating. Applications that don't fit the design of an OS stand out like a sore thumb and users shy away from them."The Web browser is an incredibly central piece of the user's operating system, and we don't want the user's initial reaction to be that they have modified their computer to add some type of strange, foreign application," Faaborg writes. "Mozilla's user experience team literally wants to do a better job of visually integrating with Windows than IE, and a better job of visually integrating with OS X than Safari. I don't know if we will be able to pull that off, but that's the goal."