Like Chrome, Should Firefox Put Tabs on Top?

mozillaMozilla, the open-source browser maker, has posted mockup screenshots of its upcoming 4.0 and 3.7 browsers for Microsoft Windows (s msft), and the company is encouraging people to give feedback on new, highlighted features it may incorporate into the products. One of the proposed updates for 4.0, called “Tabs-on-Top,” looks similar to tabs on Google’s (s goog) Chrome browser. (Apple (s appl) released a new tab interface on its Safari browser in February that, according to Macworld, took a page from Google’s Chrome playbook.)

Mozilla describes the “Tabs-on-Top” feature as “contentious,” and then provides a bullet list of positives and negatives about it in the mockups. Oddly enough, one of the negatives listed against the feature is it breaks the user’s “familiarity” with the traditional design of the Firefox browser. So far, people who have commented in the discussion thread are divided over whether Mozilla should incorporate the tabs feature in Firefox 4.0.We’ve written about how Google and Mozilla have had a close financial partnership over the years. The most obvious symbols of this relationship are the Google homepage on the Firefox browser and the Google search bar affixed in the top right-hand corner of the application.

The financial partnership between the two companies “accounted for 88 percent of Mozilla’s $75 million in revenue in 2007,” The New York Times reported this weekend, which is a huge chunk of cash. Yet Google’s entrance into the browser market, with its release of Chrome this past September, heightened competition between the two companies; Mozilla CEO John Lily told the Times that “life was a lot simpler before they (Google) did this.”

Mozilla rolled out Firefox 3.5 just last month, and the browser maker made clear that both the 3.7 and 4.0 mockups are simply for “brainstorming” purposes, so time will tell whether Mozilla adopts the Google-like tabs feature. What do you guys think — should Mozilla have tabs on the top, or are you happy with the current design?