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Firefox 4 Beta Hits Download

Gordon Kelly


Firefox 4 Beta Hits Download

Mozilla has spent a great deal of time talking the talk about the wonders of Firefox 4, now it's time for walkies...

The non-profit software developer has quietly released the first public beta of Firefox 4 and first impressions are a) it is indeed much faster (if not Chrome fast), b) it looks like the spitting image of Opera 10 and c) at this stage a lot of basics are missing.

First up a refresher on Firefox 4 and happily the long awaited move to 64bit has occurred, along with the contentious switch of tabs to a Chrome-like position along the top (though there is an option to switch them back) and there's also the introduction of sandboxed tabs (seen in Firefox 3.5.4), wider HTML5 support and a huge rewrite of the browser's code to make it perform far more efficiently.

Other interface tweaks see add-ons and the bookmarks manager integrated into browser tabs, improved cookie control and it all works very nicely with Windows' Aero Peak which spreads out open tabs across the taskbar.

Early impressions are as simple as a, b, c above, but expanding on the last point so far I've noticed no way to pin tabs (if there is, the implementation is unintuitive), the rejoining of separate windows is clumsy and the bookmarks toolbar is far too wide. That said, it all feels a huge advance over Firefox 3.x because it is far more responsive - both in starting up and loading pages.

As yet it's still not converting me back after my switch to Chrome though...

Link: Firefox 4 Beta Download Link


June 30, 2010, 9:46 am

It's not quite at public beta stage yet though is it - this is a candidate build?

Apart from that I hope startup times have been improved on OS X. And, I wonder how you get flash working on the 64-bit version? Still, I agree with the last paragraph - having moved across to Chrome, I don't think I could move back to Firefox, especially with Chrome 6 coming up.


June 30, 2010, 12:55 pm

Good to see they are keeping the separate search bar. I don't care what anyone says about Chrome it's inefficient not having one. All that clicking back to get to your search results or having to retype the search. Unnecessary and infuriating - should be right where you left it, ready to click again or modify and click again.

Firefox 4 looks hopeful.


June 30, 2010, 1:03 pm

Yes it looks like a beta candidate, not an actual beta release as of yet, although I believe beta 1 is not far off.

I'd like to point out two inaccuracies in the article: Firefox 3.5.4 does not have sandboxed tabs. I believe it's 3.6.4 which introduced plugin isolation, but that's not the same thing at all (and note that's 3.SIX.4 not 3.FIVE.4). I'm not even sure Firefox 4 has sandboxed tabs yet. If it has, the Planet Mozilla bloggers have been very quiet about it. With plugin isolation, the plugins run in a separate process so they can't crash the entire browser when they go down (which, with Flash, is usually depressingly inevitable). The browser itself, its main UI and each tab, are all still in one process, although that process is then far more stable due to a major source of crashes being removed.

Secondly, it's "Aero Peek" as in "to peek" meaning to look at something briefly, rather than "Aero Peak" as in "a peak" meaning the top of something such as a mountain.

Oh and I wouldn't expect Firefox 4 to replace Chrome or indeed Firefox 3.6 for anybody yet. It's not even a proper beta release yet.


June 30, 2010, 3:17 pm

A browser that requires mandatory updates for all users because of Farmville.

Firefox need more sheep ROFL


June 30, 2010, 3:34 pm

Pure semantics of course, but if this isn't a beta (but a "beta candidate"!) why can they not just call it an alpha release?

Still looks smoothe to me, necessary catching up with the others. To me though it's getting to the point where it really doesn't matter which browser you uae, they all are pretty much at feature parity. All technology is merging, and the few companies that manage anything different and innovative are soon copied by their competitors.


June 30, 2010, 5:34 pm

@JohnH - funnily enough keeping the separate search bar is a downside to me, it feels so unnecessary after using Chrome and it's smart keywords (also available in FF) make a second search bar pointless imho

Nick G

June 30, 2010, 5:49 pm

> has quietly released the first public beta of Firefox 4

No they haven't. And if they have, why have you posted a link to the old pre-public beta release? As you can see, the public beta at the moment is for 3.6 and not 4: http://www.mozilla.com/en-U...

> and there's also the introduction of sandboxed tabs

No, Firefox 4 doesn't have that. You're thinking of Google Chrome.


July 1, 2010, 1:25 am

@Gordon - Think about it ... you run a search, follow a hit and continue for several more pages but don't find what you are after so want to return to that search. Chrome: hit back, back, back ...; or click and hold back button find search page in history and then click; or retype entire query in bar. Ff: Just hit the search button again from search bar.

Worse ... you want to rerun a complex search with additional criteria: Chrome: as above with query editing. Ff: click into bar, change text, hit return.

No question which is more efficient.

The only Chrome way around this is right clicking and opening search hits in new tabs all the time. Amounts to tab litter as far as I'm concerned and adds unnecessary tab switching and clicking. Still inefficient.

It's a nice idea but it doesn't work.

Smart keywords are irrelevant. Amounts to more typing and tedious retyping of queries.


July 1, 2010, 4:00 am

@JohnH - You're clearly not very good at searching ;)

I can't identify with this at all. Or how tapping F6 then a smart keyword (yt for YouTube, for example) and the search phrase is less efficient than clicking the dedicated search box, searching through the drop down search engines, selecting the search engine then performing the same thing.

After 5 years with FF I thought I'd miss the dedicated search box, I didn't - it's just a massive waste of space.


July 1, 2010, 1:33 pm

@Gordon - you clearly like typing and wasting your time!

Then again if you're just searching for Youtube vids the 'jack of all trades' bar and smart keywords would do just fine. It is actually great for that kind of thing. If you ever need to dig out more obscure information from the web you'll start to understand.


July 1, 2010, 2:59 pm

@Gordon - You can right-click into any searchfield on any site and there will be the option "insert keyword" (or so, I don't have an English Firefox). Then you can right-click somewhere in the address bar and choose "customize" to remove the dedicated search box. 'Cause that's what FF is all about: customization ;)

I use my location bar also to display the address of a link and the progress of loading (thanks to the add-on Fission, both usually done by the status bar).

Also, I don't understand how all these browser are supposedly getting twice as fast with every new release. Is that when browsing something from your local SSD? Because in my experience, server lag is largely determining the speed of one's browsing.

Chrome and Opera are nice in that they continuously provide good ideas to be ripped off by FF add-ons. But Chrome esp. is still lacking in the customization department. The last time I tried it, I couldn't get past the way it implemented downloads.


July 1, 2010, 3:25 pm

@ JohnH

Or how about you do your search and then just open the results in new tabs. Works perfectly for me. If the first result is a dud just hit control+w and you're back to your results.

Two boxes is a total waste. Nothing I've used compare to the tab search in Chrome to search specific sites.

I used FireFox for years from about v 0.80 and loved it but it's amazing how Google has made Chrome so much better in such a short apace of time.


July 2, 2010, 1:50 pm

@Tim - yep, you are right about downloads. Horrible on Chrome.

@ravmania - as I mentioned opening results in a new tab means more tab litter and inevitably leads to more clicks. Just too messy, a separate search box keeps it clean. (I'd also add that IE groups the search suggestions better than Chrome).

Chrome search is seductive and fantastic for some things like tab search but it doesn't quite work in all circumstances which is why I'd rather have a separate box with improved functionality.

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