Should You Install Firefox 5?

Category: Browsers

Firefox 5 was released on June 21, 2011, just a few months after the debut of its predecessor, Firefox 4. Eventually, Firefox 5 will be pushed out to all users. But if you're tempted to upgrade right away, you may want to read what's new in Firefox 5 and what you may lose by upgrading...

What's New in Firefox Version 5?

If you want to download Firefox 5 right now, visit the Firefox 5 website, or click on "About Firefox" under the "Help" tab in your Firefox browser.

Firefox 4 users had complained about a decline in performance, and Firefox 5 addresses these issues with hundreds of behind-the scenes tweaks. Firefox 5 uses less memory, even with multiple tabs open. It starts nearly as fast as Google Chrome, beta testers report. In the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark test, Firefox 5 is much faster than either Chrome or Internet Explorer 9.

Ten bugs in Firefox 4 were fixed, including one in the WebGL 3D rendering standard that Microsoft has called a security hole.
Firefox 5 logo

Among the significant new features are improved support for HTML5 and the addition of the CSS Animations standard.

The Android version of Firefox 5 now includes the "Do Not Track" feature, which enables users to tell Web sites not to track their browsing habits. The Android Firefox 5 also sports performance enhancements, particularly on 3G networks, and support for IPv6.

What About Incompatible Add-ons?

On the downside, some add-ons are flagged as incompatible with Firefox 5, including AVG Antivirus, the Google toolbar, the RoboForm password manager, and the popular TinyURL Generator. That's not unusual with major new versions of Firefox. It takes add-on developers some time to update their code for new versions.

In some cases, the old version of an add-on may actually still work with Firefox 5. When I first installed Firefox 5, it told me that RoboForm would not work, and in fact disabled it. Unacceptable for me, as I use this tool all day long. But a quick visit to the Roboform website revealed that Roboform v7.3.2 would work with the new Firefox, and after a quick download, I can confirm that all is well.

If your favorite add-ons are listed as incompatible with Firefox 5, look for an updated version on the add-on's Web site. The developer may not have submitted the proper compatibility info to Mozilla.

The Add-on Compatibility Reporter add-on lets you override Firefox's compatibility ratings, allowing older add-ons to be tested with new versions of Firefox. You can also use the Reporter to notify the add-on developer that he/she needs to update the add-on.

Should you install Firefox 5? If you develop software for the Web the answer is unquestionably, "yes." Firefox 5 contains tools that you need to stay abreast of your craft. If you're satisfied with the performance of Firefox 4 and don't want to lose some favorite add-ons, don't install Firefox 5 right away; wait for add-on developers to catch up with the new Firefox.

Some pundits are criticizing Mozilla for calling this a "major" release with a ".0" numbering convention, whining that it should rather have been called "4.1" or "4.5" at best. Yawn. Get used to new "major" releases of Firefox every six weeks, compared to the one or two annual major releases we've seen in the past. Web technology is advancing rapidly, and Mozilla is committed to this "rapid release cycle" to maintain its competitive edge against Google Chrome.

If you've installed Firefox 5, what is your reaction? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Should You Install Firefox 5?"

(See all 60 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

02 Jul 2011

Installed Firefox 5 and it works just fine for me. I use AVG Free with no problems.

Posted by:

02 Jul 2011

I installed FF5, got Roboform back the next day, thanks to Bobs tip and got Keyscrambler back yesterday. I have had no issues. But as I read the comments, I always do, I sit here and just scratch my head. How do so many people do the same thing and get such different results?
I got a new Dell 8100 a year ago and have been plagued with blue screens, lock ups w/noise, lock ups w/no noise, freezes and flash player crashes while watching videos like Hulu, severe, Netflix, occational and Komando, flashplayer crashes.
I have been to Dell support, had the drive wiped then new Windows w/no bloat ware. Dell installed a new hard drive, none of witch helped. The only slow improvement was with updated drivers from Navidia and Intel. Hulu now buffers and I have had very few issues. I also tried Chrome, no help.
Why have my issues slowly gone away, has FF5 helped, I really don't know. Did I flip the coin the wrong way, did my Dell come off the assembly line on a Friday? I don't have a clue, I guess I'll always be a newbee. To everyone else out there. . . . . . . good luck

Posted by:

02 Jul 2011

I bought a new computer(Lenovo SL510) and it came with FF4. My Hotmail kept freezing when trying to open and I couldn't send any emails. I checked the online FF support and found I was not alone with this problem. I uninstalled FF4 and installed FF5. I had the same frozen Hotmail problem. Haven't the people programming FF heard the saying"Don't mess with success"? I have uninstalled FF5. I have been reduced to using IE8.I have avoided downloading Chrome on the general principle that I will not contribute to Google's war with Microsoft for world domination.

Posted by:

Marin Guy
03 Jul 2011

Like others, I wamted to wait to upgrade to 5.0 until I was sure all of my add-ons had been updated so I kept blowing off FF's popups asking me to upgrade. And then a few days ago when I started FF, I got a message saying that my 4.1 version had just been upgraded to 5.0 presumably by "them". Happily, all of the add-ons that I cared about had been updated before the mysterious upgrade took place and I have not noticed any problems at all. Needless to say, I will keep my fingers crossed even though that makes it harder to type. :)

Posted by:

Ross Watson
03 Jul 2011

Installed Firefox 5.0 on 64 bit Windows 7. Very minor improvements if at all. This release does not warrant a full X.0 tag. Yawn. Where is the revolution?

Posted by:

Alan Brugler
03 Jul 2011

I had serious problems with FF 4.0, due to very slow load times, and getting used to the single tab in the upper left. Also some web site compatibility issues with rotators.

FF5.0 is tons better. Much faster to load. Getting used to the interface, although I still haven't found the "check for updates" spot. I will say that performance of both FF and IE9 (my "compatibility backup" improved dramatically after installing new Nvidia drivers on my Dell XPS laptop. Dell didn't list them as available, as service tag doesn't have my Win 7 install on it. Big performance difference, so keep those drivers updated in order to do what the FF5 programmers assume you are doing......

Posted by:

Al McNicoll
05 Jul 2011

It's interesting to see unanimously positive comments here. Running FF5 on Vista Pro, I have frequent hangs or crashes switching to and from app tabs. I have three app tabs saved, and usually one or two other tabs open - that doesn't seem like a high load to me.
I'm wary to blame FF5 given the above experiences, but nothing else changed and the difference was noticeable within hours of upgrading.

Posted by:

09 Jul 2011

using FF5 portable

Posted by:

Warren P
09 Jul 2011

I updated from a version of 4 and wish I didn't--I miss the Google toolbar.

I see it has the ability to help debug webpages and I'll have to try it. Currently use IE9 to debug pages such as my Berger round-robin tables.

Posted by:

09 Jul 2011

I did the following and got everything working but RoboForm. Since I didn't want to pay again for v7, I downloaded RoboForm lite addon "". Now I can still use RoboForm v6.10.0 and don't have to pay for the upgrade to v7.
I'm using FF5 on Windows 7, 64 bit.

Posted by:

09 Jul 2011

Since installing 5 my previous tabs will not open. It only opened to the mozilla home page. I saw the option to open previous tabs and set it to do so, but still opens to homepage only. No other tabs will open from previous session.

Posted by:

Mark W
09 Jul 2011

I upgraded to FF 5.0 shortly after I received notification. I had not been happy with 4.0, but v5 seems to have most of those issues resolved. My biggest complaint now seems to be an issue with Adobe Flash - but whether that is due to FF, or my system's settings, I'm not sure.

Running a Dell Core2Duo system (new Nov 2006) with Win XP SP3, 1 Gb RAM (as originally supplied), nVidia Pro graphics... Older but still doing what I need (for the most part).

Posted by:

Michael Corwin
10 Jul 2011

I had been a big Firefox fan until I found out that a previous version wouldn't update Twitter feeds. I tried Chrome. When Firefox 5 came out, I waited a while and then downloaded it and gave it a whirl. I was very disappointed. It seemed clunky and much slower then Chrome. Needless to say, I'm a Chromeaholic...for the moment! ;-)

Posted by:

10 Jul 2011

I've upgraded to FF5 on two computers, both running Win-7 64-bit. No Problems that I am aware of. But I will admit, I really don't see that much difference in FF5 and the previous up-to-date FF4.x

Posted by:

Gene DeLorenzo
11 Jul 2011

Installed FF5: half of my add-ons gone; frequent browser crashes; bookmarking and bookmarks gone. At this point, I gave up, luckily found a FF4 installer to download and replaced the FF5 disaster. I've never seen anything this loused up except from Microsoft. Almost switched browsers. If this happens again, I will switch.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2011

I hated 4 immediately but continued to use it. I accidentally upgraded to 5 and hated it even more!I had frequent crashes with 4 and 5 was only slightly better. I uninstalled them both and reinstalled the last 3 something or other I had saved to a file. I've used Firefox for years but have begun to use Chrome more and more and even the newest IE (it is really is faster) because of the problems I began to have with version 4! Not sure I'll go back to Firefox.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2011

OK, I posted earlier that I loved the app tabs, but had learned that settings on CCleaner had to be tweaked to keep them from disappearing after CCleaner was run. I'm back to say I tweaked my CCleaner settings, but they still disappear. I've looked for troubleshooting info on the Firefox site, and found some info about how options should be set for FF history, but that info didn't apply to me as far as I can tell. My setup is plain vanilla--mostly default settings.

So, I give up on the app tabs. Went back to putting my frequently accessed sites on the bookmarks toolbar where they won't disappear. Sigh. Does anyone have any tips?

Posted by:

20 Jul 2011

I have been using FF5 since it became available in Beta Test form. Yes there were some early problems with compatibility but these seem to have been sorted by the more recent upgrades. I use Roboform extensively without problems now and there is the option to open a problem web page in an "IE" tab, which I only have to use to upload my shopandscan bar codes each week. I like the app rabs, it is a very useful feature. I open three different email systems every day, and putting those in the app tabs saves me a lot of time on boot up. Yes they have disappeared occasionally, but resetting them is so easy...
Can't say I have had many crashes, no more than I would expect in any bro actually as I live in a rural area a long way from the nearest exchange, so my broadband is quite slow, and occasionally none existent.

Posted by:

05 Aug 2011

After my initial installation of FF5, I was very disappointed when many of my favorite extensions would no longer work. I visited all of the extensions' websites, and managed to get about half of them back again using updated versions not available on Mozilla. Then I installed the Add-On Compatibility Reporter (available from Mozilla), and all of the formerly "lost" extensions began working. I'm not sure how this works, but I do know that the problem is solved.
What I can't understand is Mozilla's repeated inability to coordinate with extension providers. These programmers are the folks Mozilla depends on to create the versatility of Firefox and Thunderbird. Get with the program, Mozilla!

Posted by:

Pat Kashtock
06 Aug 2011

All the new FFs have been a bit of a pain the first few weeks, but I upgraded to FF5 when it became available. There were a few bumps, but it seems to be working quite well, now. Bookmarks never disappeared or anything like that. The first couple of weeks it crashed a bit, but seems find now except for an occasional slow down.

On the other hand, I used to love Chrome, but it got too slow and boggy no matter what I did with it. And I'm sorry -- I keep updated with IE, but that has to be the slowest most annoying browser. Still. I use both from time to time, but have gone back to largely using Firefox. No matter what problems it seems to have, the others run just a bit more annoyingly.

- Pat Kashtock

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