Mozilla has announced plans to start building some stat reporting features into Firefox. The Firefox Health Report will keep track of browser installs and retrieve info such as browser version, hardware configuration, add-ons installed and so on.The idea is to enable Mozilla to get a much better idea of how Firefox is used in the wild and what and how to improve. This data could be invaluable for the browser maker, but it hasn't been collecting it due to privacy concerns.
Most other browsers to collect this type of data and Mozilla needs it to improve Firefox, there's no other way of getting all of this info.
"This new product feature will allow us to deliver an improved Firefox product that better serves users, both individually and collectively," Mozilla wrote.
"Our proposal is driven by the best of scientific and analytical intent and takes the greatest of pains to manage downward the amount of data collected. Data needs are set to the minimum –necessary level," it said.
The Firefox Health Report will only collect four types of data. Configuration data which contains things such as hardware profiles, operating system and version, as well as Firefox version.
Customization data will record things like what add-ons are installed, how many of them and what's their purpose. Performance data will keep track of, well, performance, things like "timing of browser events, rendering, session restores."
Finally, "Wear and Tear" data will record how the browser is used, how long the sessions are, how long ago the profile was created, crashes and so on.
All of this data will be anonymized, obviously, Mozilla only needs browser-related data, data which relates to how the browser is performing. And it needs huge amounts of data for it to be relevant, it needs it from millions of users to get a real idea of how the browser works in the wild for everyone, not just for one user.
The plans are to land the feature in the Nightly releases soon, but it's going to be a while and it should make it to the stable release sometime in 2013.