Firefox 3.0b4 review

Firefox 3.0b4 was released overnight and it is a significant improvement over the already superb 3.0b3!

The browser space is really improving of late, what with the release of the surprisingly good Internet Explorer 8 beta, the nightly Webkit releases, and now Firefox 3.0b4.

I ran Firefox 3.0b4 through the Sunspider browser speed test and it completed the test in an amazing 4,683.6ms on my OS X MacBook Pro! That is spectacular performance compared to the already extremely zippy Webkit which comes in at 5,744.8ms and Firefox 3.0b3 which comes in at 9,822.4ms. Flock 1.09 lags waaaaaay behind at a laggardly 16,945.0ms

On trying the Acid3 test (Firefox 3.x passes Acid2) it scores a creditable 65/100, up from 61/100 for b3 but still seriously lagging behind Webkit’s 87/100.

The full release notes comprehensively detail the many updates in this beta version of Firefox and are well worth a scan. Noteworthy improvements include:

  • Improvements to the user interface: better search support in the Download Manager, ability to zoom entire page or just the text, continuing look and feel improvements on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Richer personalization through: location bar that uses an algorithm based on site visit recency and frequency (called “frecency”) to provide better matches against your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, as well as an adaptive learning algorithm which tunes itself to your browsing habits.
  • Improved platform features such as: support for HTML5’s window.postMessage and window.messageEvent, JavaScript 1.8 improvements, and offline data storage for web applications.
  • Performance improvements: changes to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimization resulted in significant gains over previous releases in the popular SunSpider test from Apple, web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office run much faster, and continued improvements to memory usage drastically reduce the amount of memory consumed over long web browsing sessions.

I have been using Firefox 3.0 as one of my main browsers (along with Webkit) since 3.0b1 and despite the warnings

Firefox 3 Beta 4 is a developer preview release of Mozilla’s next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only

I have found it to be rock solid and a much better browsing experience than Firefox 2.x

The only downside to Firefox 3.0bx is the lack of working plugins but once you try it for a couple of days, you will find it difficult to go back to Firefox 2.x – even with all your plugins!

7 thoughts on “Firefox 3.0b4 review”

  1. Used the earlier beta but its no good for me until the extensions work. Also found it wouldn’t close if you set it to clear the cache on close. Hope they’ve sorted that problem out.

  2. First impressions are good.

    I was delighted to see that something I’ve been wishing for since the advent of tabbed browsing has finally been implemented… namely the ability to save all your open tabs on closing the browser. Now you can resume where you left off — but unfortunately it only works when you close the last Firefox window.

    When I’m working I tend to have multiple browser windows open, each sporting multiple tabs on a particular topic. It would be handy if there was some way to save all of them.

    I might have to revert back to the earlier version until a few of the more popular extensions are updated… but this certainly seems a worthy upgrade.

  3. Calvin,

    Go to Preferences -> Main -> When Firefox starts:

    and choose “Show my windows and tabs from last time”

    Now if you quit out of FF (or it crashes) everything comes back up on FF re-start!

  4. Thanks Tom,

    Done! Just goes to show, should “play” a bit more before commenting on things.

    What used to happen was this:

    * Have all the research done for a piece of an evening
    * Close the laptop — sending it into hibernate mode, all apps, tabs, etc. preserved
    * Overnight, laptop spontaneously comes out of hibernation to download and apply Windows Vista updates, then restarts itself
    * I come along the next morning and feel like throwing said laptop out the nearest window

    Of course, I told it to update itself at 3am on a Wednesday, or whatever it is… so it’s my own fault really. Now at least FF can come to the rescue. Yipee!

  5. I do love Firefox and everything those guys are doing. they’re really starting to cater for the web designers/developers which is something i don’t think microsoft would ever have though of.

  6. Great application, but now that Firefox3 is in Beta and many users are adding it, don\’t you think it\’s time to support it? Every single one of my other applications have updated to support Firefox3 and answer is the last one I\’m waiting on.\r\nI\’ll be waiting for the update

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