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Mozilla throws Facebook Chat into Firefox 17 experience

Mozilla has announced that is has incorporated Facebook Chat into Firefox 17.

Those with the most updated version of Firefox can visit the Messenger for Firefox page and select "Turn On" to activate the feature. Once you sign in, Facebook's chat service will remain in an AOL Instant Messenger-esque sidebar on the right, even if you navigate away from

Chat windows, meanwhile, will appear atop the websites you visit, so you can browse the Web without having to navigate away from your chat.

The chat window will also pull in the real-time updates "ticker" stream available on the top right of everyone's Facebook profile. Up top, Firefox 17 also includes notifications about Facebook messages and friend requests.

If you want to minimise the chat window, click the Facebook logo icon on the top right of the browser, and de-select "show sidebar." This menu also includes the option to stop showing desktop notifications and to uninstall Facebook chat from Firefox.

Mozilla was inspired to incorporate chat into Firefox because visits to social networking sites now make up 20 per cent of all time spent online worldwide. "We experimented with new and better ways to integrate social into your Web experience," Mozilla said.

"Today's Facebook integration is just the start of making Firefox more social. We'll soon add support for more features and multiple providers," the company promised.

Mozilla tapped into its Social API to build Facebook Messenger for Firefox. On Friday, the company showed off how WebRTC - a developer tool that enables real-time video calling and other data-sharing capabilities - is enhancing that Social API.

In a demo video using a Firefox Nightly build, Mozilla's chief of innovation, Todd Simpson, showed off some of the features enabled by WebRTC + Social API. That included a chat feature like Facebook Messenger for Firefox, but Simpson was also seen dragging and dropping website URLs into a chat box, which then automatically opened on his friend's browser. He did the same with images, videos, and native files.

The experiment relied on getUserMedia to tap into the camera and microphone and PeerConnection for audio and video calling.

"Prior to WebRTC, video calling applications were either stand-alone, isolated apps (like Skype) or browser plug-ins which lacked the tight connection to the browser internals to guarantee a good quality call," wrote Maire Reavy, a product lead for Firefox Platform Media.