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Firefox 4 Officially Launched

David Gilbert


Firefox 4 Officially Launched [Updated]

As we go to print with this story Firefox 4 has hit the 1.3 million download mark so will have a way to go to hit the record breaking 8 million downloads Firefox 3 racked up its first 24 hours back in 2008.

With last week’s launch of Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 will be hoping its increased speed and hardware accelerated graphics will be able to lure people away from the much revamped IE9. Firefox 4 first went into beta last summer and since then there has been quite a number of iterations of the browser before finally becoming official today.

The highlights of the new version include speed, with Mozilla claiming 4 is six time faster than 3 (due to the JagerMonkey JavaScript engine), with improved start-up and page load times, speedy Web app performance and hardware accelerated graphics. The new version also looks quite different with a stream-lined interface and a much cleaner look. The App Tabs feature gives a permanent home to frequently visited sites and Panorama allows you to drag and drop tabs into manageable groups - which is a great freature for those of us who usually have dozens of tabs open. Firefox Sync will let your history, bookmarks, passwords and open tabs across multiple devices.

While some complained about flaws found in IE9’s anti-tracking features, Mozilla claim its Do Not Track feature is the first step towards a universal standard Do-Not-Track feature that allows users to opt-out of tracking used for behavioural advertising. It also encrypts any data locally before transmitting them over the net.

Mozilla has set up an online counter so you can see where in the world Firefox is being downloaded and in what quantities which will be some indication of the success of Firefox 4. In the long run though it will be how faster the browser is and how it handles feature rich content on the web which will decide if it is a success or not.

Firefox 4 is available to download now from the Mozilla website for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in more than 80 languages. A release candidate for Android and Nokia Maemo mobile platforms is now available with the official version coming soon.

Update: Firefox 4 hit over 5 million downloads within its first 24 hours which is still a healthy number even if it got nowhere near the 8 million mark of its predecessor. Europe was the region which downloaded the most copies of Firefox 4 having almost as many download as North America and Asia out together.

Source: The Mozilla Blog


March 22, 2011, 10:28 pm

Looks cleaner like IE9, but unlike IE9, Firefox is incredibly clunky. Moving tabs about is a chore. The UX needs improvement. Chrome is really eliminating the relevance of Firefox. Ie9 doesn't help matters for them either.

They'll get plenty of downloads, but then again I download all the latest browsers to try. During the mid 2000 I was constantly switching between IE and Firefox. Now which one do I always return to, Chrome.


March 22, 2011, 10:31 pm

It immediately replaced Chrome as my secondary browser. Opera is still my primary browser, however.

Martin Daler

March 22, 2011, 10:47 pm

My Firefox RC2 didn't bother updating to the final version today - it reports itself as being 4.0 anyway, and the executable version number is also identical to the final version. So I'm guessing that RC2, which slipped out silently on Friday, is exactly the same thing as the final version launched with all the razzamataz today?


March 22, 2011, 11:51 pm

I would have to agree with the comments above, while it does look cleaner than the old Firefox, after a few hours with it I still couldn't find any reason to switch from Opera as my primary browser.


March 22, 2011, 11:51 pm

While I prefer the eye candy of Safari, I still require Firefox to view The Daily Show site. Hope upgrading doesn't screw that up.


March 23, 2011, 1:27 am

I've loved Firefox for many years and this is a great update. I've got Safari, Firefox and Chrome, but barely use Chrome, preferring Firefox over it.


March 23, 2011, 3:23 am

I am a huge fan of Chrome which amongst many other strengths, it saves alot of space on screen. Why doesn't Firefox or IE utilize all the wasted space at the top of the screen where chrome places its bookmarks. That space is doing nothing! If they don't want an interface that copies Chrome, put the bookmarks there of something, anything!


March 23, 2011, 5:23 am

Here's hoping this is honoured: http://i.imgur.com/IUOHB.jpg

The JavaScript performance improvement is definitely working and the UI refinements are useful as well as aesthetically welcome (although tabs on top was disabled immediately for me) but otherwise it's pretty much still just Firefox. Who would have thought?


March 23, 2011, 11:15 am

@Hugo - All that does is send a HTTP header when requesting pages. It's up to the site as to what actually happens, so it's basically useless.

IE9 has the edge here as it actually has lists of sites that it blocks, as well as a (different) header like FF.

Martin Daler

March 23, 2011, 11:36 am

@J4cK1505 - what wasted space? I have my tabs at the very top, the URL/navigation bar below that, and then a final bar with my shortcuts. To do this I opted for 'tabs on top' and no menu bar (since the 'Firefox' tab does everything the menu bar used to do). So just three lines used at the top of screen. Very economical with vertical screen space - something the TR Beta site could do well to emulate.
However it would be even better if when using F11 full screen mode that the favourites bar would reappear when hovering mouse at the top of screen. IE9 does this, and it makes full screen much more friendly - I still want access to my faviurites when using full screen.


March 23, 2011, 12:33 pm

Loving it. So much faster than 3.6. Once managed to get vertical tabs again (TabKit wasn't supported, so had to get Vertical Tabs + Tab Scrolling) and Auto Copy (that's not supported since 3.5), everything's as good as pie.

Still my primary browser. Chrome can suck it - Google had a chance, screwed up with tracking everything in the first versions of Chrome, won't go there anymore.


March 23, 2011, 12:40 pm

Dogers - Hence "here's hoping this gets honoured." Thanks for playing, though.

Denis iii

March 23, 2011, 4:18 pm

Been using IE9 over the last few days and I'm very impressed with it. A few little issues with certain websites but otherwise great. The only thing I don't like is the address and tab bar being on the same row.
I like Opera very much but due to issues with certain websites I frequent I stopped using it once Firefox 4 Beta 10 was out(previous beta's had issues).
Chrome....well Chrome is Chrome the worst browser out there IMO.
Firefox 4 10 Beta, RC and now gold release is my browser of choice. Stable, fast, best UI, tab groups + app tabs, customization, add-ins and now sync make it by far the best browser available currently.
Safari....whats that?:)


March 23, 2011, 6:47 pm

yep I'm liking it very much, I was a little scared that it might break quake live but everyting works aOK,

I have kept the tab bar at the top (because normally I have it turned off and at the bottom but as they have removed the 'new tab' button it just wastes space having it at the bottom and always displayed)

only problem is google maps (like in 3.x.x) is still really slow at loading when navigating around (esp in satilite view) when in IE9 it is as fast as it always has been, (not sure if it is a firefox thing or a google problem with firefox)

Justin Petersen

March 23, 2011, 8:44 pm

Google Chrome can claim the crown, it's fast, keeps it simple, has some nice apps and it's not full of bloat, the other two browsers (safari and opera we're never in the race) are still playing catch up.

Martin Daler

March 23, 2011, 11:57 pm

@Denis iii you need to right click in a blank part of the tab bar and select "show tabs on a separate row" to make your IE9 joy complete

Martin Daler

March 24, 2011, 12:33 am

@Jay The "new tab" button has just gone into stealth mode, it is still there. Look very carefully at the right hand side of the tab bar, there should be a very feint plus sign +. That is it! You can reincarnate it into its former glory. See here:


March 24, 2011, 1:49 am

As a Pro Photographer/Designer I'm loving Firefox 4. Colour management is implemented properly and CSS3 font embedding of Opentype fonts is spot on. Haven't touched ie9 since getting FF4 as it looks guff in comparison. ;-)


March 24, 2011, 2:31 am

Long time Firefox user (since 0.7) but I don't eagerly install new versions like I once did. I'll wait until most of the add-ons have caught up.

On Chrome, I like it and it replaced Opera as my #2 but once I have a few tabs open Chrome is slower than Firefox (3.5) with the same tabs. Also, it's so "streamlined" it compromises usability with too many buttons hidden away or that perform multiple functions depending on the load state of the site. Grrr.


March 24, 2011, 3:08 am

Firefox starts to follow Chrome's steps and takes the Crap Avenue. I think it's time to say goodbye after some years living together.
Chrome is extremely easily the worst and most despicable browser for me. Bye bye Firey.


March 24, 2011, 11:21 am

@Hugo: Ah, with you now there, Ted!


March 24, 2011, 3:46 pm

@ Justin: How were Safari and especially Opera never in the race? A good deal of features are lifted straight from Opera half the time.

Denis iii

March 24, 2011, 3:51 pm

@Martin Daler
nice one! :) thanks.
IE9 possible bug: when youtube videos queued and plays next vid automatically full screen the screen is black not showing video but does show annotations.


March 25, 2011, 2:01 am

It's 10:00PM CET, and download counter on FF4 page shows well past 20 million... Chapeau bas.

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