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 â€œfrecencyâ€) 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.
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!
Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 Beta yesterday and, surprisingly, it seems to be quite a good browser! I say surprisingly because Microsoft don’t have a track record in the good browser market 😉
I wrote a post a few weeks back comparing the speeds of various browsers and Microsoft’s current browser, Internet Explorer 7, was the slowest browser by a long margin.
Opera’s CTO HÃ¥kon Wium Lie was quoted recently making some very valid criticisms of Internet Explorer 7.
However, Microsoft seem to have addressed many of those issues in Internet Explorer 8.
I downloaded and installed it on my Mac last night (in the Parallels partition with XP as the OS).
It seemed to work well enough so I loaded up the Acid2 test and was surprised to find that it rendered correctly! This was a good sign!
There is still a lot of work to be done on IE8. It crashed several times on me when I was using it and it fails the Acid3 test miserably (17/100 compared to Firefox 3.0b3’s 61/100 and Webkit’s thoroughly respectable 87/100!).
Still, this looks like Microsoft are finally taking a step in the right direction with IE8. I am looking forward to seeing the final release.
UPDATE – I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop this evening (the same one where Webkit runs the test in 9,094.2ms) and IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms. This is roughly the same as Firefox 3.0b3 and is a vast improvement on the 66,870.6ms which IE7 took.
Since writing the post Firefox has released Firefox 3.0b3 and Robert made me aware in the comments of the previous browser speed post that Opera 9.5 beta was released so I decided to check those two browsers as well.
on Vista the performance times came in at:
Opera 9.5b – 16,293.6ms
Firefox 3.0b3 – 19,345.4ms
WebKit r30123 – 8,920.2ms
While on OS X:
Firefox 3.0b3 – 9,822.4ms
Opera 9.5b – 8,953.6ms
WebKit r30123 – 5,744.8ms
So while the Opera 9.5b browser is the second fastest browser tested and is showing very respectable times, it is still taking nearlt twice as long as the Safari Webkit browser to render pages.
Note, I re-tested the WebKit so that the results of these browsers would be directly comparable. It is also worth noting that Firefox 3.0b3 is significantly faster on Vista than was Firefox 3.0b2 while on OS X Firefox 3.0b3 is only marginally faster than Firefox 3.0b2.
After reading Seth Weintraub’s post on how the upcoming versions of Safari are blisteringly fast I decided to download the latest nightly (WebKit r30123) and check it out for myself.
The results were pretty amazing – on Vista the performance times came in at:
Internet Explorer 7 -Â Â 66,870.6ms
Firefox 126.96.36.199 -Â Â Â Â Â Â 34,121.0ms
Firefox 3.0b2 – Â Â Â Â Â 29,293.6ms
Safari 3.04 -Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 21,930.4ms
WebKit r30123 -Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9,094.2ms
While on OS X:
Flock 1.08 -Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 30,476.8ms
Firefox 3.0b2 – Â Â Â Â Â 10,863.4ms
Safari 3.04 -Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 13,534.0ms
WebKit r30123 -Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5,720.0ms
That’s pretty spectacular performance – and seeing as I use Safari quite a bit on my iPod Touch, I may just have to switch default browsers for a while to see how I get on with Safari Webkit!
UPDATE – post updated with results for Firefox 3.0b2 on Vista