Firefox 4 RC Review

Update: Some sections of this article have been modified from their original form

The Release Candidate for Firefox 4 has been out for a few days now and I decided to put it through the paces. Though there wouldn’t me much to write about since my Firefox 4 Beta review, there are definitely some speed tests and other things I have done to compare it with other offerings available today.

UI Changes

As I had mentioned in my beta review, the user interface for 4 is completely different from earlier versions. It is similar to what other browser look like including Internet Explorer 9, and .

Firefox 4 User Interface

This is definitely good because users will have a unified experience across multiple browsers. Firefox 4 has combined all the menu items into a single menu item. However, individual menu items are available when you press the Alt key.

Firefox 4 though hasn’t gotten rid of the search box and continues to use it for dedicated searches. However, you can still use the address bar to perform searches.

More New Features

Other than these, Firefox 4 also has a new tab manager which allows you to manage open tabs. A new add-on manager, a new feature where you can search the address bar and switch to an open tab and more integration. I had covered all of these in my earlier Firefox 4 review so I would not want to repeat them again.

Firefox 4 RC Benchmark – How it Stacks Up?

Coming to my favorite part in this review, I ran a couple of benchmarks on Firefox 4 RC to understand how it stacked up against the several other browsers I use. These benchmarks were run on a hot instance of all the included browsers (the browsers were already open once before running the tests).


Sadly, the tests did not backup Firefox 4 here. Firefox 4 was rated the second lowest in the Peacemaker tests after Safari of course. Way below Internet Explorer 9. By the way that Safari 4.0.4 is actually Google Chrome 12, somehow it identifies it wrong. I have made sure to make it apparent in the test results image too.

The winner of course was Opera 11.10 which is still in alpha stage and Google Chrome 12 which will be released soon. It goes to show where Mozilla’s efforts are.

Firefox 4 Acid Tests

Firefox 3 RC fared worse in their Acid3 tests than the beta versions. This was not unexpected, but I have hardly seen any browser go higher that this.

Of course, Firefox 4 might have higher ratings elsewhere, but this is definitely not something I would want to see Firefox 4 in the ratings. Alas, we can’t get everything we want can we?


Firefox 4 is a huge leap for Mozilla, it makes a lot of UI changes which will be unacceptable to many users so you can expect a lot of backlash when this goes live However, it is a move in the right direction and will pay off in the end.

However, there are quite a few things which lack in Firefox 4 and were supposed to be in Firefox 3.5. Do feel free to talk about your thoughts out here, in fact I would be very appreciative if you could share your benchmarks of different browsers too.

Redundant Section

This part of the article is redundant and it might have been a bug in my profile, please disregard it. You can click here to see this section.

Firefox 4 RC is Available for Download

Mozilla has put up the first release candidate of Firefox 4 as promised. Even though the promise was of the 12th beta being the last, the transition over the last few months has been fast-paced and it would be time for skeptics to shed off their doubts of whether Firefox will be able to deliver a version 7 by the end of 2011, as planned in the roadmap. A brand new decisive release system already tells us how Firefox is hellbent on reaching this goal.


A complete list of new features in this RC is outlined at this page. Out of these changes , the remarkable ones are design UI, organizing tabs, managing add-ons and better a syncing UI. Behind the scene changes include better HTML5 support and better WebM support.

It is expected that these changes will put Firefox back in the game and with the agile roadmap ahead; Firefox has a chance of getting back a number of power users it lost to Google Chrome and Opera. Benchmarks say, the new JavaScript rendering engine is 3.5x faster and watching HD WebM videos will be fun. Along with that, there are other ‘not so evident at first’ changes like, 3D capabilities and hardware acceleration (which Opera too got a few days ago). The crash protection on tabs allows Firefox to isolate the rouge tab caused by a crashing plugin. This prevents the complete browser from going down, in case of a tab-crash and saves our important work.

To download the Firefox 4 RC installer sized at 12.6 MB, go to this page and follow the link.

The download provided above was for the beta 12 of Firefox 4 and not the RC release as written on the download page at Mozilla. The RC release is not publicly out yet, but you can catch the untested version here (English version). Keep an eye on this page for updates on the RC release.

Firefox 5 Concepts Revealed; More Site Specific Features For Apps

Mozilla will be releasing in the next few weeks. 4 sports a complete overhaul from the previous versions and is very similar to . However, Mozilla is now working on the next version Firefox 5 which might be released in late 2011.

Firefox 5 Desktop Apps

CNET got hold of some concept pictures which show the future of the browser. The concept pictures can be seen at One of the main  focus of Firefox 5 will be desktop apps which will contain site specific features in them.

For example, if you use the app, you will see options such as creating a new tweet, checking your direct messages and more. This feature will also be available for other sites like and IMDb.

Techie Buzz IE9 Pinned Tabs

Internet Explorer 9 has a similar feature where they allow websites to define tasks when a website is pinned to the taskbar. It is not  yet known whether the site specific features in Firefox 5 will have their own tasks or rely on websites to define those tasks.

Firefox 5 Search Box

In addition to the site specific features, Firefox 5 will also have a new visual appearance for the search box, where the color of the button would change based on the search engine the user is using. This color could either be specified by the search engines themselves or will be fetched from the favicon of the search engine.

Firefox 5 will also promote the Firefox Sync option to users so that they can sync their passwords, bookmarks and more in the cloud and use it on any mobile device or PC.

Firefox 5 Add-on Manager

Mozilla will also be revamping it’s add-on manager which is used to install and manage in the browser. Firefox 4 introduced a new add-on manager, but it looks like they will be revamping it again in Firefox 5.

These are just some of the key features from Firefox 5 which are available as concepts. It looks like Mozilla will continue building on Firefox 4 and add these new features to it, so the look and feel of Firefox 5 may not be any different than Firefox 4.

So what do you think about the new Firefox 5 concepts? Do you like them? What else would you want to see in Firefox 5? Do share your opinions and views about it.

Firefox 4 Beta 4 For Android And Maemo Released; Is ‘Faster Than Ever’

It was more than a month ago that Mozilla had released the last update for Firefox 4 for mobile for both Android and Maemo. Until the last beta, Firefox 4 for Android more of a bloat ware than a decent third party browser.

The Mozilla Firefox team listened to all the feedbacks they got from the previous beta release and today, they released a new Beta of the app. The Beta 4 of Firefox for Android is now much, much better than the previous beta versions. The application boot up time has been heavily reduced and so has the page-load times. The Mozilla teams says that their benchmarks shows that this new beta of Firefox Mobile is faster than the stock Android browser in all the benchmarks they concluded.

On my Desire Z running on CM6.1.1 and OC’ed to 900MHz, Firefox Mobile did not seem to load pages faster than the stock Android browser. It was slower than the stock Android browser but not by a huge margin. Firefox Mobile was also not able to render some sites properly unlike the stock Android browser.

snap20110202_135940 snap20110202_140053


Performance wise, the stock Android browser is still way faster and smoother than Firefox 4. For me, the UI response and the overall speed of the Firefox 4 needs some improvements before it can replace the stock Android browser.

The APK of Firefox 4 is a whopping 13.5MB and after installation the app footprint increases to 30MB! This won’t go down well with people who are using Android phones with low internal memory. Thankfully, the app can be moved to SD card. One big advantage of Firefox 4 over the stock Android browser is the support for plug-ins. Right now, the Mobile Add-ons gallery for Firefox 4 features more than 100 useful plug-ins.

Hopefully, with the next beta of Firefox for Mobile most of these issues would be solved. Looks like we Android users will soon have a decent alternative to the stock Android browser.

Android owners can download Firefox 4 for Mobile from the Android Market.

Firefox 4 Beta 9 Released, Inching Closer to Release Candidate

Mozilla has released the beta 9 version of , bringing them closer to a release candidate and final version release in February 2011. Mozilla has been working on 4 for quite some time now and the numerous delays have been costing them.

Firefox 4

Mozilla has overhauled the bookmarks and history code in Firefox 4 enabling for faster bookmarking and startup performance. They have also improved performance for complex animations. Firefox 4 also has the JaegerMonkey engine for JavaScript which is supposedly very fast. Firefox 4 Beta 9 also uses hardware acceleration on and using Direct X.

Mozilla has also added support for 7 new languages for Firefox 4 taking the total supported languages to 76. To view the complete list of changes visit this page. You can download Firefox 4 Beta 9 from here or visit this post to learn what has changed in this beta.

Firefox has been losing market share in the past few months because is stealing their thunder. However, the good news for Mozilla is that Firefox just became the most used browser in European countries.  Hopefully the release of Firefox 4 might turn things around for Mozilla.

(h/t arpitnext)

Why Is Chrome Winning And Firefox Losing Market Share?

, once the darling of the tech and IT crowd is slowly but surely losing love from the same people who used it because of the crappy Internet Explorer. In the years since it launched, Firefox has become a browser loved and used by a broader range of people. At one point of time, Firefox looked all set to conquer the world and overtake IE.

Firefox vs Google Chrome

However, in the past two years, a browser called has been making dents into both Firefox and IE’s market share. The browser which is barely 2 years old almost has 10% market share. This is definitely something that is worth talking about.

Also Read: Google Chrome Extensions vs. Firefox Add-ons: Head to Head Comparison

So where is Chrome winning users from? Chrome is winning over the same users that Firefox stole from IE, the tech and IT crowd. This has been made more than clear with recent Tech powerhouse sites like TechCrunch and Techmeme reporting that most of their users now use Google Chrome, pushing Firefox to the second position.

So why this change? When Firefox came out more than 6 years ago, it brought about a fresh perspective to a software in which we spent most of our time in on a computer. It also introduced which made our lives easier. However, with all those additions, Firefox in itself started to become bloated, eating precious memory and CPU.

Once Chrome came in, it defined a minimalistic approach to browsing. It got rid of unwanted toolbars and presented users with a simple way of browsing and searching. It also brought a much more sleeker look which helped users focus more on what they needed to have rather than what they should have had.

One of the key reasons people I had talked to who were not switching to Chrome was the lack of extensions, which made them stick with Firefox. However, once Chrome came out with extensions, many users switched to it. Top that with cloud sync and security and it made Chrome a darling of the tech crowd.

Frankly speaking, for the past two years I have used Firefox only when necessary. I hate the fact that it is so bloated that it makes me less productive than I would like to be.

I would say that Mozilla and Nokia are two similar companies who were sitting on the top of the pile, but have been struggling to keep up ever since competition has cropped up. I admit that does provide a better experience, however, people would now ask the question; Why should I switch to Firefox 4 from Chrome when they have delaying it for so long and Chrome is dedicated to adding features every 6 weeks?

Once again, Chrome is bound to grow leaps and bounds in the future. With the Google Web Store around the corner, it would bring more and more people towards it. Alas, Firefox 4 is still a long way from release, hopefully once it comes out it should make the competition more even.

In the end, this is my honest opinion about a browser I loved at one point of time. I have been struggling to find reasons to use it now and I feel that several other users do the same which is why Chrome is gaining over Firefox. There are few questions though which only you can answer. Do you use Google Chrome? Do you prefer it over Firefox now? Would you switch back to Firefox 4 when it comes out? Do let me know your thoughts.

The State of Mozilla: No Armageddon for Firefox

Mozilla has published its annual report for the year 2009, which takes a look at how Firefox is doing competitively and financially, along with what is planned for the future, and frankly, things are looking quite rosy for the open source browser maker.


Firefox has more than 140 million active daily users and in excess of 400 million total users. The much delayed Firefox 4 will introduce significant performance improvements along with a host of other promising changes. Mozilla is also working on broadening its scope by making inroads into the mobile sector with Firefox (Fennec) for Meego and Android, and Firefox Home for the iPhone.

Financially also Mozilla is doing quite well. In 2009, it generated consolidated reported revenues of $104 million, up 34 percent from 2008 reported revenues of $78 million. This includes a $104,000 loss from long term investments, which is again a considerable improvement from previous years figure of $7.8 million. As before, a significant portion of the revenue comes from Google and other partners like Yahoo, Yandex, Amazon, eBay and a handful of others.

Mozilla has had a partnership with Google since 2004, and has renewed their contract three times, in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Their current contract is up for renewal next year. Some publications like Silicon Alley Insider have already begun dubbing 2011 as the Armageddon year for Firefox based on the apprehension that Google might choose not to renew their contract with Firefox, which is one of the biggest competitors of Google Chrome. However, what they are forgetting is that the search itself is a competitive segment, and Firefox’s large user base will provide Mozilla with plenty of bargaining chips. It’s unlikely that Google will be too keen to let Bing become the default search engine in Firefox without a fight.

Firefox Turns 6, Now Has 36% Market Share

Mozilla’s baby is turning 6 today, with a 36% market share to brag about. Six years ago Internet Explorer one of the most used browsers, that is when Firefox was launched and quickly became popular among tech enthusiasts and developers. Now, the browser boasts of more than 1/3rd of the market share.


In the past few years though, Firefox has also had to fend competition from and who have been rising on the popularity charts. With being delayed till 2011, Mozilla definitely has to buck up its game to extend their stay for several more years to come.

Firefox 4 is a definitely game changer for Mozilla, and hopefully this 6th birthday will give them a boost to get it out of the door as quickly they can. Here is wishing one of the best browsers I have ever used a very Happy 6th birthday. To get some goodies, visit the official Mozilla birthday page.

Firefox 4 Beta 2 for Android and Maemo Released: Faster and Sleeker

Although Mozilla is struggling to ship Firefox 4 for desktop operating systems, work on the mobile version seems to be going on at full throttle. Firefox 4 Beta 2 for Android and Maemo was released yesterday. I went hands-on with the Android version, and it’s definitely a significant improvement over past releases.

Start Page of Firefox for Android

No, the newest Firefox for Android won’t rock your world, but it is usable, and that alone makes it a significant improvement over its predecessors. One thing that I really like about Firefox Mobile (or Fennec) is its interface. It completely does away with the need of using hardware buttons. Instead, you can perform everything you wish to by simply swiping on the screen in different directions. Of course, this breaks the standard navigation model in Android, where you are supposed to press the ‘Menu’ button to bring up the application menu and tap the ‘Back’ button to go the previously open page. Some people might hate the change, but I wish that more applications followed this philosophy. Apps designed for the touchscreen should be completely controllable via the touchscreen alone.

TechieBuzz Rendered with Firefox for Android

Mozilla has tweaked the start page, which now displays tabs opened in the previous session, and can even fetch opened tabs from your computer, if you are using Firefox Sync. Other new features in this version include an extremely handy undo option for closed tabs, which allows you to recover accidentally closed tabs, and a context menu for links and webpages. You can now share any link or webpage by long pressing and choosing the sharing option that pops up. Mozilla has also slashed Firefox’s ROM space requirements from a ginormous 40 MB to about 17 MB. It’s still a lot more than what most apps require though.

Tab Management in Firefox for Android

While Firefox impresses with its interface and functionality, it lacks polish. I loved it at first glance, but things fell apart as soon as I started using it. I found the rendering to be choppy on occasions, and the browser takes way too long to load. The innovative interface also creates problems on websites that aren’t optimised for mobile phones. If the website has horizontal scrolling, you are going to find yourself accidentally triggering various UI (user interface) aspects quite frequently. Firefox only makes matters worse by not offering a text reflow mode. And finally, the one thing that really annoyed me, was the lack of copy-paste.

Opera is the king of the hill when it comes to mobile web browsers, and Opera Mobile for Android is slated to be released in a couple of days’ time. Mozilla has the advantage of a larger fan base and powerful extensions, but that might not matter much if they don’t hurry up.

Awesomebar in Firefox for Android

Firefox 4 Won’t Be Ready Until 2011

Last week, we pointed out that the development of Firefox 4 was taking a lot longer than anticipated, as a result of which, the final version might not be released by the end of this year. A short while back, Firefox’s director Mike Beltzner, confirmed our fears in an update posted on Mozilla’s Dev Planning group. He wrote:

As those who have been tracking our nightly builds know, great things are happening with Firefox 4. The user interface changes are converging, the graphics and layout features are wrapping up, and recently the JavaScript engine was dramatically improved. The result is a fast, capable Firefox that provides better speed and responsiveness for web applications and users. Completing this work is taking longer than initial estimates indicated as we track down regressions and sources of instability. As part of our commitment to beta users, we will not ship software before it is ready.


Firefox 4 Beta 7, which was originally expected to arrive on Sept 17, will ship in early November. Similarly, the release date of Beta 8 has been pushed back from October 1 to Nov 12. The RC build (Release Candidate) should arrive in early 2011, which will be followed shortly thereafter by the final build.