(In reply to Stephanie Cunnane [:scunnane] from comment #5)
Yes, I've just had a product discussion with Henry Moseti. The core issue of this regression is a conflict between our goal of directing users to the address bar vs. user agency. In this case, we're going to favor user agency. Therefore we're planning to fix this regression by special-casing search engines when they are configured as the user's custom new window URL.
We'll fix this in our current development cycle or the next. However, this regression is not serious enough to warrant backing out the original patch.
Stephanie, I would like to point out that it's not just search engines that need to be special-cased in order to avoid the behavior of focusing on the address bar.
Search engines are not the only sites with a text field that is auto-focused, which the user wants to preserve. You have shipping tracking sites, internal company pages, support forums, Wikipedia, etc....
For websites that do not have a text field that is automatically focused (e.g. news sites), the user will want to be able to simply hit the arrow or page down keys in order to start browsing - but again, if the focus is defaulting to the address bar, they won't be able to without extra effort.
It is imperative that Firefox have a way to configure it back to the old behavior to leave the focus on the site itself - for ALL sites.