Firefox 4 Beta 1 Review

Firefox 4 Beta 1 was released earlier today. The newer version of Firefox from Mozilla is definitely better than Firefox 3.6 and is definitely worth trying out. Firefox 4 runs on the Gecko 2.0 web platform. Earlier today I downloaded Firefox 4 and put it through some drills, here is a review of Firefox 4 Beta 1 where you can find the new features and also the how Firefox 4 fares against other browsers in web browser benchmarks.

New User Interface

Firefox 4 New User Interface

Firefox 4 sports a completely different interface, some of which are from and . Firefox 4 has some new buttons and also a unified menu which is similar to the one Opera 10.6 has. In addition to that the tabs also default to the top which is similar to Google Chrome.

However, the menu bar is initially hidden and users can unhide it to go back to the older navigation found in Firefox 3.6 and below.

Firefox 4 Bookmarks menu

Firefox 4 also has a new bookmark button giving users easy access to their bookmarks with one click. You can find and navigate through all your bookmarks and folders using the bookmark button next to the search box.

New Add-ons Manager


Firefox 4 sports a new add-ons manager which integrates into the browser. However, the interface is still under construction and you cannot use the add-ons manager to browse and install add-ons yet. However, it is definitely much better than the earlier version and also has some new developer tools.

Mozilla also says that the add-ons manager UI will be changed before the final release, so don’t start falling in love with it yet.

Search and Switch to Open Tabs


Firefox 4 also has a hidden gem in the smart location bar, which will allow you to switch to an open URL by typing in the URL or searching for the title of the page. The feature is very handy if you have several open tabs and want to switch to it without navigating through all the tabs.

When you want to switch to an open tab, just start typing the URL or the title of the page and you will be shown an option to Switch to that open tab. Pretty neat.

Windows 7 Integration

firefox_4_windows_7_integration firefox_4_windows_7_jumplists

Firefox 4 tightly integrates into by having tab previews and Jumplists. Using the tab previews you can easily preview all open tabs. In addition to that the jumplists allows you to quickly perform tasks and open frequently opened URLs.

Native HTML5 WebM Videos Support


Firefox 4 has native support for WebM videos. WebM is an open source royalty free codec for HTML5 videos which is an alternative to H.264 and Theora codes (Learn more about WebM). In my tests HTML5 videos works pretty good on .

Speed and Other Benchmarks


Firefox 4 is definitely much more lighter and faster than Firefox 3.6 and it uses much less memory than the earlier versions. However, Firefox 4 is not yet the fastest browser and it was beaten by both Google Chrome 6 (dev) and Opera 10.60 in the Peacekeeper benchmarks I ran.


Firefox also failed the Acid 3 test, but the results were far better than Firefox 3.6. This shows a lot of improvements being done under the hood. Firefox 4 was also slower than in the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark  and way too slow in the V8 benchmarks I ran (screenshots coming shortly).

Other Features

Firefox 4 also has Crash protection for Flash, QuickTime and other plugins, however, this was introduced in Firefox 3.6. Firefox 4 also has a HTML5 parser which allows you to run the latest apps, support for WebSockets for real-time online interactions like chatting and gaming and IndexedDB which will allow users to use offline storage.

If you have not yet downloaded Firefox 4 Beta 1, you can do it from here or visit this blog post on Mozilla to find out all the latest features available in Firefox 4.

Published by

Keith Dsouza

I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website.I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

  • The new new version also has support for hardware acceleration.

    • I’ve just downloaded it and am giving it a good old kick in the tyres. Looks pretty sweet to me.

  • Chrome runs faster on your system than Opera 10.6? Wow! That's a big surprise, as most people have had the opposite experience.

    I am glad that Fx designers finally got some brains and put tabs over the address bar (the way Opera does). The address bar content changes from tab to tab, in other words it is dependent on the tab bar. So, obviously it should be below the tab bar not above it! Overall, the new skin is definitely a huge improvement. I love the new add-on manager.

    Also, are taskbar tabs back again? They are another big nuisance.

    • I am using the latest dev version of Chrome and it definitely was faster than Opera in my tests.

  • Techydeveloper

    This review is biased towards Google Chrome. I would certainly not try to use Chrome or Opera for doing online transactions as both are not secured enough to use $ transaction. Secondly I doubt Chrome and Opera has support builtin for HTML 5. So if you need the latest features so naturally you need to compare the browser on latest features not on running performance tests using web sites HTML 3.0

    • . I would certainly not try to use Chrome or Opera for doing online transactions as both are not secured enough to use $ transaction.

      Can you state any fact to support your notion that Chrome/Opera aren't secure enough?

      econdly I doubt Chrome and Opera has support builtin for HTML 5.

      Not sure, as to what you meant by this statement either. HTML5 is a vast and broad subject. In fact, it is also an ever changing one. Opera is still the only browser with a stable (final) build that supports WebM videos mentioned in this post. Chrome, Opera, Safari and Firefox, have all been enthusiastic and pro-active about adopting various HTML5 specifications. Opera recently added support for AppCache, WebWorkers and already supports stuff like Local Storage.

      • Many banks in the US are dropping support for Opera and Chrome. I think @techydeveloper read that report and got fired up.
        BTW, the Firefox4 beta supports IndexedDB which is I guess an alternative to appCache. Firefox has supported Webworkers and Local Storage from version 5!! This was added in Opera in version 10.5 if I am not mistaken.

        • IndexedDB is not an alternative to appCache. Its a storage technology.

        • z

          You are a troll.
          So, IF the banks are dropping support for other browsers it’s because they are lazy. Nothing to do with security
          but oh, wait for it, they support IE?

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  • DJ

    Any idea if the crash protection can be disabled? For me at least it is a nuisance. Firefox was constantly getting a "Not responding" error & locking up before I disabled it. No problems with that since.

  • Great review of the new Firefox version that is currently in Beta, I think Firefox needs to pickup their game, if they are not careful, Chrome can definitely leap them, I have alot of friends who are choosing to switch from Firefox to Chrome, especially now that Chrome has continually improved, and the extensions are getting better.

    Till then,


  • Shane

    Great overview.

    On Win7 integration: Each tab showing as a preview in the task bar is a mistake in my opinion. These are best used for window previews not individual tabs for a running program.

    Imagine how cluttered that will get if a lot of tabs are open? And, what a pain maximizing firefox after minimized…2 clicks instead of one.

    That's gotta go or made an option…

    • Fei

      There is an option to disable that feature. Just go to Option —> Tabs —> Unchecked “Show Tab previews in Windows taskbar”.

  • A long term Firefox user, for a while I switched to Chrome mainly due to speed and the minimal interface in Chrome. With the release of Firefox 4 beta 1 I switched back to Firefox. Not only is it faster than any version of Chrome its interface also rocks. Good Release!!

  • alex

    i have excite email (probably one of the last people on the planet that does) and when composing an email, there are major problems: cannot add recipients, cannot add attachments, CANNOT EVEN TYPE THE EMAIL!!! i suspect a scripting problem, because that's what the program is made up of. this error didnt happen in chromium, ie, safari, or firefox 3.6. they have to fix this

  • I have downloaded the beta and I like it alot, my favorite feature is the fact that you can preview each tab in Windows 7 it makes it much easier to go through your tabs and also the tabs are on top now which makes it much easier to see and navigate.

  • I love firefox! Their is a lot of useful plugins for it.

  • Sri

    You can find an indexed db playground at It has examples for the APIs. Wrote it since I could not find documentation elsewhere. Hope it helps.

  • just install this firefox4b. next time i’ll use google chrome (according to stats above).

  • Miyasashi

    To the author of this review…

    Did you try turning on the D2D support?

    I kind of miss that in this review and might be the difference between other browsers (speed-wise).

    • @Miyasashi – I did not turn that on, but would try it out and update or write another article on it in near future.

  • Siddharth

    View this new browser of the future and vote for it.

  • tom

    it is not lighter.. it is a fat pig compared to 3.6

  • Aaron

    I like this so far. I always wanted the viewing space that chrome and opera have with the customization of firefox. With firefox 4 i have that, well done Mozilla

  • juanita

    I tried it was cool at first…but then I couldn’t use my online banking website….which i use often…had to keep switching to ie just to use it….so I went back to firefox 3.6

  • Mark

    I tried to install this separately by assigning it to a differently-named folder. But, it took over my existing Firefox 3.6 version anyway. This is rather disconcerting!

  • kevz

    Has someone tried the new firefox 5? I installed it but had to unistall after exactly one week. Too slow!