Should You Download Firefox 15?
Firefox 15 was released recently. It seems to have a couple of cool new improvements. It might even be good enough to make you want to switch. Should you install it? Here are the pros and cons...
What's New in Firefox Version 15?
Firefox has always been an infamous memory hog, grabbing ever-larger chunks of RAM the longer it runs. In this release, Mozilla developers have tackled one of the biggest causes of this problem: third-party add-ons. Many add-ons retain copies of Web pages even after a page’s tab is closed, thereby wasting increasing amounts of memory. Firefox 15 detects such shenanigans and frees up memory. Fewer crashes are another benefit of this housecleaning.
More sophisticated graphics are possible in Firefox 15. This version supports the WebGL standard, enabling 3D graphics and complicated textures. Enhanced graphics will surely become widespread, but their main application will be browser-based gaming. New APIs (application programming interfaces) give game developers better control over the timing of their interactive graphics, down to thousandths of a second.
I guess that would be important for a simulation of Olympic running or swimming, where margins of victory are often measured to within a few hundredths of a second. Mozilla has released a couple of demo games online: BrowserQuest and BananaBread.
Music lovers and teleconferencers will benefit from Firefox 15’s support for the Opus audio codec. Opus provides better audio compression rates than MP3, Ogg, or ACC formats, so audio files will be smaller and download faster. Also, Opus supports dynamically adjustable bitrates, and both pre-recorded and live interactive applications.
The auto-update feature in Firefox has been refined to make it less intrusive. Updates to the current version are now downloaded silently in the background, and applied faster when Firefox is restarted. You no longer have to deal with the “Firefox Update” dialog box and “Firefox is installing updates…” messages. Users will be relieved, given Mozilla’s more aggressive update schedule these days.
Firefox for Android got some badly needed features in this release. Text selection, find in page, and search suggestions bring the Android version more into line with the desktop version’s features. Tabs can now be closed by swiping, and you can view the desktop version of a Web page through a menu button. Tablet support has also been added, with tabs appearing in a sidebar.
If you want Firefox 15, it’s quite simple to get it. Firefox users can click on the Help button, then select About. The latest version of Firefox will start downloading instantly. If you're currently using IE, Chrome or some other brower, you can also get Firefox 15 at Firefox.com.
Of course, there are many subtle tweaks under the hood of Firefox 15, some of them dealing with important but obscure security issues. It’s always best to keep your software up to date.
A few months ago, I finally got tired of Firefox, because it would become sluggish or crash due to the enormous amount of memory it was consuming. It wasn't uncommon for me to open the Task Manager and find that Firefox was holding onto over a GIGABYTE of memory! Shutting down and restarting the browser fixed the problem, but only temporarily.
So I made an effort to switch to the Google Chrome browser. Chrome seems to chug lots of RAM, too (about half as much), but it doesn't crash and seems generally speedy. But with Firefox 15's promise to manage memory better, I'm giving it another chance to impress.
Have you tried Firefox 15? Let me know your impressions. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 31 Aug 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should You Download Firefox 15? (Posted: 31 Aug 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved