Firefox 4 Beta

Category: Browsers

Firefox 4 Beta was released for testing last year. A couple of million volunteers have downloaded the beta and provided feedback that is helping Mozilla finish and improve this latest-generation browser. After 12 iterations of Firefox 4 Beta, it's almost ready for general release. Here's what you can look forward to...

What's New in Firefox V4?

The browser interface has been redesigned, which may or may not please everyone. The menu bars are now more compact and tabs are placed at the top of the window, because users heavily prefer tabbed browsing. A new button labeled "Firefox" on the main menu bar opens a drop-down menu containing the familiar File, Edit, Save, Find, options. At first I thought this was odd, but noticed that when the browser window is maximized to full screen, the Firefox button and the tabs combine into one menu bar. It would be nice if this was always true, at least for consistency.

The Home page and other buttons on the main menu bar have moved, too, which will take some getting used to. If you don't like the placement of the tabs, or the Firefox button, you can customize the menu bar area by right-clicking in an empty space.

Startup and browsing speeds are significantly improved in Firefox 4 Beta. Images render much faster and pages load sooner. Depending on which browser benchmark you use, the performance of Firefox 4 Beta is 3 to 5 times better than version 3.
Firefox V4 Beta

High-definition video and 3D multimedia are supported in Firefox 4 Beta, along with an improved Javascript engine that enables more interactive Web applications. Support for HTML5 has been added, making Firefox 4 Beta compatible with the latest Web programming standards. Web forms will be smarter and easier to fill in. Video, audio, and image file handling will be faster and smoother than ever before.

Hardware-accelerated graphics support is built into Firefox 4 Beta. When the appropriate graphics hardware is present, Firefox 4 is able to use Direct2D and Direct3D on Windows, XRender on Linux, and OpenGL on Mac platforms. These features are enabled by default.

Security and Crash Protection

Security is enhanced by support for HSTS in Firefox 4 Beta. HSTS enables a Web site to force a Secure-Sockets Layer connection between itself and Firefox 4, keeping bad guys from intercepting one's communications with the server. There's also a new setting that promises to help users opt out of being tracked by online advertising companies. This is still in a test phase, and will rely on advertisers voluntarily cooperating to make it effective. Personally, I think this is all based on over-hyped fears, and will only serve to make online ads less relevant for users who opt out.

Crash protection is built into Firefox 4. If an add-on such as Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight crashes, it won't bring down Firefox. You simply reload the page to restart the crashed add-on and try again.

A new system for managing add-ons and plugins makes it easier to find and use the tool you need, keep add-ons up to date, and discover new add-ons that make browsing more productive or fun.

Synchronization comes to Firefox with the ability to keep bookmarks, settings, add-ons, and other customizations up to date across several devices, including smartphones and iPads.

Firefox 4 Beta compares favorably to Google Chrome in agility and simplicity, say some beta testers. It certainly brings Firefox up to par with the fastest and most capable Web browsers in use, and paves the way for new third-party applications to keep the Web experience evolving. You can bet that without the competitive influence of Firefox and other non-Microsoft browsers, Internet Explorer would not have many of the features it has today.

You can download Firefox 4 Beta and try it without uninstalling your older version of Firefox. But the beta will overwrite some settings that alter the look and feel of your older browser.

Have you tried Firefox V4? Post a comment and share what you like or dislike, especially if you've also tested IE9...

 
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Most recent comments on "Firefox 4 Beta"

Posted by:

Dave
18 Feb 2011

I've been using all of the Firefox Betas (currently #11). There have been improvements with each one. More add-ons have become available with each one. Fast page loads and stability seem to have improved with each new beta, also.I've been a Firefox fan since I started using it a couple of years ago, and I'm looking forward to the final release of FF4. I also have tried the RC of IE9, which works well, but seems to have issues with loading some pages.


Posted by:

chesscanoe
19 Feb 2011

Firefox at one extended time was my default (favorite) browser, but the slowness of Firefox 4 beta development concerned me enough to uninstall it but keep the latest versions of Opera, IE9 beta, and Chrome9 beta now replaced with Chrome 10 beta. No browser is best in all circumstances, but Chrome 10 beta is a real thrill to use, and keeps Chrome as my default browser.


Posted by:

Racecar56
21 Feb 2011

So, you uninstalled Firefox just because a **beta** was slow? I honestly think that is quite foolish. You ought to stick to the releases if you don't like the beta, but if Firefox 4 is still slow at release time...yes, I can definitely agree with you there.


Posted by:

Alex
26 Feb 2011

That is kind of silly, just because they don't release a buggy version quickly, you uninstalled the stable one? Sheesh. That is impatience. I like FF3 more than any other out there, including Chrome and Opera. I have IE9 because it came with Window$. FF will always be the most extensible one; maybe Chrome will catch up, but FF has years of development for add-ons that no one can catch up to all that quickly; just look at thow many add-ons FF has compared to Chrome or Opera.
I think I will uninstall Windows because they are just too slow developing it. Wait a minute. I don't know how to use the other OS's...


Posted by:

Ariel
02 Mar 2011

I have been using Chrome (on my Mac) for ever it seems. So, now FF is aiming to close the gap between their browser functionality and what has been around in Chrome for quite a while already.
But I guess that is the name of the game, the last one into the game has to outplay the previous last one in the game. I can't wait for the next generation of Chrome...


Posted by:

Reinhard
12 Mar 2011

I've used Firefox for years and years. Was my fave.
Now I use Chrome cause it's faster on my netbook and a couple of old computers I've recycled running Linux. Sure Firefox is fast on my 4 gig dual core Windows box but the real test of speed is on older hardware. "When" a stable ver. 4 is released I will try it. Chrome has all the plug-ins/add-ons that I need. However I've always liked FF, so if it will run as fast as Chrome and use equal or less system resources as Chrome then I will seriously re-consider it as my main browser. Especially if it works well in both Linux and Windows. Firefox has forced Microsoft, Google, etc. to make speed, feature, and security improvements to the point where it may no longer be king of the hill.


Posted by:

Older than dirt
13 Apr 2011

Use Firefox. Tried beta 4. It does not now support some things I used in 3.6.16. So I uninstalled the Beta and went back to the one I'm used to. I will try 4 when it is released. Hopefully it will support the add-ins that I have come to be dependent upon. One of the add-ins is a multiple line tool bar. I'm REALLY lazy, and this little goodie was heaven sent for this OLD, OLD, LAZY man.

I also have IE9 installed - only use it when I absolutely must.


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