Firefox 4 launches into a tougher, faster world

22 Mar

Three years since, Firefox 3 set the record conducive to most downloads in a 24-sixty minutes period, cracking 8 million and positioning itself during the time that a viable alternative to Internet Explorer.

Firefox 4, released today to the men at large after 12 public betas, couple release candidates, and nearly a year of development, faces a hugely different landscape. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer literary works the dominant browser. And in less than three years, a significant chunk of the browser mart has taken a shine to definite newcomer Google Chrome.

Mozilla flips the switch from translation 3.6.15 to version 4 during the time that Firefox possesses more than 400 the masses active users. The new version of the browser sports various massive changes, including a radically redesigned interface, significantly faster browsing speeds, eager support for the still-in-growth HTML5 and other “future-Web” tech, and based on competition features like synchronization, restart-less append-ons, and tab grouping. The authoritative CNET review of Firefox 4 is beneficial at the pages for Firefox for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Browser fare remains an important point of compare. But as the five major browsers be obliged developed over the past year, their make haste differences have become more muddled. For precedent, Mozilla noted that when Firefox 3 was released, it took “60 milliseconds to change Gmail from showing one message to a different with Firefox 3… compared with 413 milliseconds during IE 7 and 227 for Firefox 2.”

Current browser benchmarks that expect only at JavaScript place them entirely in the same ballpark now, in the same state the point of comparison has begun to change about to graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware hastening. This allows the browser to press against certain rendering tasks onto the computer’s graphics card, freeing up CPU wealth while making page rendering and animations put faster. These tasks include composition aid, rendering support, and desktop compositing, and there are few benchmarks that are admitting of testing it.

One interesting publicly available benchmark is the new JSGameBench from Facebook, which looks to test HTML5 in actually being-world gaming situations. The Firefox 4 beta was the fastest pure without WebGL and was the approve fastest with it. Mozilla’s concede tests put Firefox 4 at three to six periods faster than Firefox 3.6.

Mozilla leavings a leader in developing the Web, and interestingly that role has led it to grasp back on building out one of the other thing interesting minor features in Firefox 4. The recent do-not-track feature supports a header steady Web sites that tells sites and advertisers not to path you, so you don’t conceive targeted ads as often. Internet Explorer likewise supports the header, and it includes hardy, configurable support for blocking ad trackers; Firefox 4 relies forward add-ons like AdBlock Plus to lucre the list blocking.

Johnathan Nightingale, instructor of Firefox development at Mozilla, explained for the period of a conversation last week at CNET’s San Francisco room that Mozilla is more concerned by the larger problem of why ads were targeted in the first place.

Mozilla starts on Firefox 5 designs (screenshots)

“Beyond blocking the ad loads, that you can do with add-ons, this is a employment social trust situation between sites and users. We emergency people to vote with their feet, or at in the smallest degree want to have that conversation. We’ve parole to a lot of advertisers. And through and large, they want to have ~ing good citizens here,” Nightingale said. As a current solution, though, that makes users entirely unable to exist without on advertiser behavior, which is well-adapted to fall short of what the public want.

Another security repair in Firefox 4 fixes a cover that affected all browsers until ultimate summer–a vulnerability so old that it was mentioned in the documentation against CSS2 a decade ago. The utilize is a CSS sniffing history pass censure on. see under, in which malicious code can win over access to your browser history ~ dint of. manipulating link appearance and style. What made the bug in such a manner difficult to repair is that the simplest elucidation–to prevent all link style manipulation–would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Nightingale had said in ~y interview at Black Hat 2010.

Nightingale likewise addressed other changes in Firefox 4 in the same proportion that providing the feature in question in the absence of playing fast and loose with a user’s data. Firefox 4 removes the “lucky” automatic search result jumps from the situation bar’s search functionality because Mozilla had “concerns near to sending a lot of private given conditions from the location bar to peer into engines. We will get there,” he added, “yet like with Sync we want to grant it right.”

Sync is another of recent origin feature in Firefox 4 and is perchance one of the best implementations of the point across the competition. Not only have power to you synchronize your data across traditive PC versions of Firefox, but you also can sync your bookmarks, passwords, preferences, narrative, and tabs with your Android or Maemo-running phone or pocket memorandum-book. However, Sync debuted in 2008 being of the kind which an add-on and had a notably coarse beginning. Fortunately for user data, that it used to delete seemingly at decision, Mozilla fixed the problems with it.

Along through the Android support, Sync gets sum of ~ units security features right. One is that Firefox encrypts your facts before sending it over an encrypted relationship to its servers, where it odds and ends encrypted. Mozilla said it could not enlargement the data even if somebody there wanted to. The second is that you be seized of the option of setting up your have a title to personal sync server. In an a hundred years in which private data stored through corporations gets hacked and stolen through shocking regularity, setting up a physical sync server is one way to make secure that you bear the responsibility beneficial to your own data. The only point in dispute with the feature is that it doesn’t even now support syncing add-ons, a go-between that is at least partially tied to Firefox’s opening restart-less add-on network, moreover debuting in version 4.

Other pompous changes in Firefox 4 include a minimalist interface by a condensed menu button that closely resembles that of Opera 11 and Chrome 10; app tabs; tab groups against keeping tabs organized; an overhauled add-on manager that also supports restart-smaller add-ons; and expansive support by reason of HTML5, CSS3, and the aforementioned hardware acceleration for Direct2D and Direct3D on Windows, OpenGL steady Mac, and XRender on Linux.

One “to come-Web” tech that Nightingale said apparently won’t come to Firefox under the jurisdiction version 5 is support for WebSocket. “The particularization had security problems, so we turned it done,” he said. He added that users have power to enable it at will through the “websocket” options in relating to:config.

Although it took more than couple and a half years for Firefox 4 to generate here, expect that time to engender axed like a tree in a rainforest toward Firefox 5. Mozilla plans to boor Firefox on an accelerated release document, much like Google has done through Chrome.

Check out CNET’s replete review of Firefox 4 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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Posted by on 2011/03/22 in Popular


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