Should You Download Firefox 15?

Category: Browsers

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.
Firefox 15

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.

Developers will appreciate the Javascript debugger built into Firefox 15. It includes several UI enhancements that make finding snippets of code easier. A “Responsive Design View” helps developers test code on multiple devices, i. e., desktop monitor, smartphone, without actually having to view a page in a particular device.

Mobile Twinsies?

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

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...

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Most recent comments on "Should You Download Firefox 15?"

(See all 48 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

31 Aug 2012

I switched to Chrome when I kept getting held up on Firefox constantly with the script errors. I switched to Chrome and added my bookmarks so I figure there's no reason why I should switch back.

Posted by:

Andre RM
31 Aug 2012

"Fewer crashes are another benefit of this housecleaning." That is not something that would move me to try Firefox. I don't want ANY crashes, not FEWER.

Posted by:

Terry Edmondson
31 Aug 2012

is firefox 15 compatible with all the windows Xp versions?
I want to avoid installing it and then have the work of restoring my old version.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2012

Have been using 15.x for a month after updating from 3.6.x; big improvements. Updated to new security release 16.0 last night.

Posted by:

Maurice Lampl
31 Aug 2012

Google boots much faster than Firefox. I don't like waiting for Firefox to come on-screen, not knowing if it'll boot finally or not... With Google, once I click on the icon on taskbar, the Google page appears on my screen almost instantly...

Posted by:

31 Aug 2012

I'm running W7x64 and I switched to Waterfox a couple of months ago. It's a lot faster than Firefox since it's built for 64 bit machines, but the FFX15 improvements haven't been incorporated yet. Pity. I have to do an "end process" bailout at least once a day, sometimes twice (I have both FFX and Chrome up at all times). That's a bit of a PITA, so it'll be nice when (if?) Mozilla gets Waterfox updated. I can't sacrifice the added speed to go back to FFX though.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2012

I have been using Firefox and it never crush.

During the installation of latest version 15 it showed, this version do not support Skype call or call to call. I did not recall exact wordings of the message. Other than that it is working fine.

Posted by:

Poppy Payne
01 Sep 2012

I too have been plagued with Firefox chewing up memory, freezing, the infamous 'not responding' notification... I used Chrome for a while but downloaded Firefox 15 after hearing about what was in it.

So far, it seems to be much less of a memory hog, but IMHO, it still eats up far too much CPU time. In particular, if I have several tabs open for a spell with Facebook being one of them, CPU usage shoots up to 50% (Intel 3.0Ghz Quad core). Most times, closing the Facebook tab will reduce memory use, but a fair number of times I will have to close Firefox and restart it.

Overall, it's noticeably better, but there is still much room for improvement.


Posted by:

tom fowler
01 Sep 2012

LastPass doesn't work / win 7-64 BIT, VAIO COMPUTER

Posted by:

Joe Bosch
01 Sep 2012

I have been using Firefox as my primary browser for years. I can definitely attest to the memory hog label, but right now, I have 20 tabs open and FF15 is only using 13% of CPU and 25% of available RAM. Loads much faster and seems smoother. Take heart and give it another try.

Posted by:

Tony Biggs
01 Sep 2012

Bob, I switched from Firefox to Chrome months ago, for the same reasons you did. I even removed the application from my MacBook Pro, but only recently did I think to check for deadwood in my Cache directories, and found more than a gig that Firefox had left behind there! I'm not too eager to switch back again. Maybe Chrome doesn't seem such like a memory hog because I've been sharing my machine with my roomie (while his is in the shop), and he uses Safari; -that- comparison is appalling.

Posted by:

John H
01 Sep 2012

With the new version, does it still have a "Work Offline" feature? I play an on-line game called Travian and this feature is great for launching multiple waves of troops against an opponant at the same second.

Posted by:

02 Sep 2012

Don't look for me to download Firefox 15 anytime soon!

In other updates I have had frequent problems with the process going wrong - all my mail lost in Thunderbird, Bookmarks erased in Firefox, and so on. I've managed to defend my interests by only downloading about every third or fourth version of each, after carefully making copies of Mozbackup backups in a couple of different partitions. Even at that many aspects of the update and removal process have given me a hard time.

Ask me to trust them to meddle with my computer secretly without notice in the background? No thanks, I've been bit too many times for that.

And besides, my wife likes to borrow my computer on occasion, and 15 won't support Plain Old Favourites, which he considers vitl on my computer as well as he own.

Posted by:

02 Sep 2012

Hi there.. I run Firfox, should I delete/dump my current version before I load #15 ? If the "old" stores so much information, should I do anything else to free up memory, apart from the things you have already told me to do, which I do religiously, thank you for that..

Posted by:

Bob Young
03 Sep 2012

I've been using Firefox for several years, & have absolutely no complaints. Upgraded to FF 15 the day it showed up as an "upgrade" & have had no problems, & it runs fine...& quick. I'll stay with it.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2012

Since Windows7, I also have not used Firefox for over a year, as Internet Explorer 9 is near perfect with this OS. I do have Chrome installed, and I'm happy with these two as a pick and choose combo.

Posted by:

Glenn Tinsley
03 Sep 2012

I have used Foxfire 15 since it's release. I don't have any problems with it. I have had less problems with it that the previous versions of Firefox. In fact, so far I haven't had any problems. Currently I have Firefox 15 on two machines; one using Windows XP Professional (my main system) and the other system uses Windows 7. The Win XP System get far more use as it is my main system. The Win 7 System is used for specialized tasks. I have had to reboot neither system for problems related to Firefox 15 since I installed this NEW version.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2012

I use Opera. Far better.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2012

I'll use to Firefox.

Posted by:

Graham F Cutler
18 Sep 2012

At present I'm using Firefox 9 and I think I'll keep it that way.
In the past I upgraded various versions of Firefox, only to find that many of my programs weren't compatible with them and I'd to dump either the new Firefox or my trusty programs.
As I'd paid for most of the programs, Firefox went and was replaced with an earlier version that DID support my programs.
To be honest, because I'm not a techno-freak, and don't get the latest thing just for the sake of having it, (I still don't have a mobile-phone, i-pad, e-pad, x-pad, Brillo-pad, shin-pad, or any other damned pad you want to name, and I still use only one Dell desktop computer that's running on XP Home), so perhaps I'm not really missing anything with these new versions?

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