Archives: Mozilla Firefox 4 - Pros and Cons

Originally published in October 2010
Simon Nguyen

If Internet Explorer will ever lose its grip on the web browser market, the biggest credit should unquestionably go to Mozilla Firefox. The open-source web browser was the first true challenger to IE’s dominance; it has since put market-leader Internet Explorer on the defensive. When Google decided to enter the fray in 2008 with the Chrome browser, Mozilla was put into a precarious situation of having to compete with two software giants in Microsoft and Google. With the imminent release of Firefox 4, Mozilla intends to issue a fresh challenge to its formidable competitors.

A web browser is primarily judged by how fast and secure it is. Internet users are extremely impatient; they want immediate access to the information they need and expect to feel secure while doing so. Mozilla aims to address at least one of these two factors with Firefox 4. First and foremost, the new iteration of the popular browser is designed to be very fast. In term of speed, a quick comparison test between the beta versions of IE9 and Firefox 4 shows both to be roughly equal in loading speed. The final version of Firefox 4 is expected to be even faster. Mozilla also plans to eliminate update pop-ups that often show up before the main page is loaded; updates can now be performed silently on the background. This will improve considerably the browser’s startup time and efficiency.

Among the major pros of Firefox 4 is a new feature called Panorama. This cool feature allows users to easily group and categorize open tabs or web pages. For example, one can create a group called “My News” comprised of home pages of one’s favorite news sites. Furthermore, each group of tabs is given its own browser window. By opening the group’s window, one can have access all the pages in the group. Think of this as the web browser’s equivalent of virtual desktop. For people who open a lot of tabs during web sessions, this could be quite a handy multitasking tool. Additionally, Firefox 4 also promises enhanced security features and a simpler interface.

Despite Firefox 4’s big improvements over previous iterations, it is not clear if the web browser will be able to compete with IE9 and Chrome 7. The allure of Mozilla Firefox is the fact that it was the first serious challenger to Internet Explorer’s monopoly. The rise of Firefox has forced Microsoft to significantly upgrade its browser software. While IE9 is still in beta mode, it has received very positive responses from both users and industry insiders. Unless there are significant surprises in store for the final version of Firefox 4, it would be difficult for Mozilla to persuade existing IE users to abandon the browser in favor of Firefox.

Another obstacle Firefox will encounter is the rapid rise of Google Chrome. The web browser is viewed by many as being faster and more robust than both IE and Firefox. In just two years, Chrome has arguably replaced Firefox as the most formidable challenger to market leader Internet Explorer. As a testament to Chrome’s success, both Firefox 4 and IE9 have embraced a Chrome-inspired look. The minimalist interface is just one of key Chrome’s features adopted by its competitors. With Chrome 7 set to offer comparable loading speed to Firefox 4 in addition to innovative features (such as 3D capabilities), Mozilla Firefox is at a crossroad. Whether or not long-time Firefox users will continue to support the web browser is a huge question mark at the moment.

About the site