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Mozilla Makes Firefox 4 Beta 1 Officially Available

Gordon Kelly


Mozilla Makes Firefox 4 Beta 1 Officially Available

While Mozilla chose to remain silent about the Firefox 4 alpha that popped up last week, it has now broken out the champagne as the first beta has been made officially available for download.

Accompanied with the tagline "It all begins here" Firefox 4 Beta 1 is the most radical revamp of the browser since it launched. A complete rewrite of its architecture has greatly boosted performance, there's 64bit support, repositioned tabs, 3.6.4's tab sandboxing to reduce crashes, enhanced HTML5 support, better Aero Peak integration for Windows 7 users an improved bookmarks manager and many, many other elements we've already been over a dozen times.

Consequently perhaps the more interesting aspect to all this is why we have been over it a dozen times and why Mozilla has been keen to crowd source its ideas. The reason is this is by far the most crucial release in Mozilla's history. When Firefox first launched it was to capitalise on the sloth of Internet Explorer and lack of choice. Now we have a hyper competitive market with browser updates coming every few weeks, a speed race and ever more powerful companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple sharply focused on getting their offerings right.

Consequently, for the first time in a long time, Firefox market share has been stagnant, stalling around the 20 per cent mark. I'd suggest this is partially due to the reasons above and partially because Firefox has come to be seen as an increasingly bloated beast in this increasingly speed obsessed sector.

The hope is Firefox 4 can change this. It will be the core of Mozilla's efforts for the next 12 months and with Chrome having raced towards market share double figures in under two years (the majority of which has been in the last 10 months), Safari 5 having just arrived and Internet Explorer 9 due in early 2011 the battle is going to be more tense than ever before.

Under those terms Firefox 4 will have its work cut out – especially with far smaller resources than its nearest rivals and while I do like what I have seen so far, I must admit it wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft and Google's billions see them become the two dominate browser makers over the next few years.

Link: Firefox 4 Beta 1 Download Page


July 7, 2010, 9:01 am

Hmm. I'd like to use the 64 bit version (use to use "minefield" - 64 bit coded, but not by Mozilla), but need 64bit flash to be honest.

Paul Elliott

July 7, 2010, 12:19 pm

It would probably more accurate to say that Firefox 4.0 beta 1 has 'plugin sandboxing' rather than 'tab sandboxing' - the two are quite different in my view with the latter providing full Chrome style protection of other tabs if any content (not just plugins) within a tab causes the browser to crash.


July 7, 2010, 1:21 pm

I am certainly interested in Firefox 4 since I haven't yet installed a version of Firefox since putting Windows 7 on my laptop. Nevertheless, I find it peculiar that Opera isn't mentioned in this article considering that it is at the forefront of browser innovation and Firefox seemingly took a few ideas from it for its skin.


July 7, 2010, 1:55 pm

Above all, IE6 must die, and soon, so I can stop supporting it in design work.

Ala Miah

July 7, 2010, 2:51 pm

I've used it. It's good, it's fast, it's reliable.


July 7, 2010, 3:51 pm

it's version 4, and ff still can't move tabs & nav panel to the bottom. hail almighty oprah!


July 7, 2010, 5:25 pm

can you install this alongside FF 3.6 and have both to try out?

I like the look of the new FF but am glad they have the option to change the 'look' back to the 3.6 look. I hope there is the option to hide the tab bar when you only have one tab open I like the 'not taking up more vertical space then necessary' look

also a while ago I think someone was saying they didnt like the search bar, you can always remove it by 'customise' and then drag it out of the toolbar.

Simon 19

July 7, 2010, 6:15 pm

Hell to the Yeah for Opera! I was a pretty big fan of Firefox, but I found it to be increasingly unstable. Now I have Opera at home and work and use the excellent syncing features to keep bookmarks and notes up to date over the three machines I have access to.


July 7, 2010, 7:48 pm

@Jay - I've just tried that and it seems you can install 3.6 & 4.0 side by side. The new beta installs in its own directory. Not sure if they share bookmarks or settings though? Just installed the new Tab Mix Plus beta, and that got installed in both versions.

As for the beta, I don't like the overuse of transparency at the top of the window. Looks quite bad if you use a dark background. Thankfully, it's only the first beta so plenty of time for changes. Also, is Jetpack pencilled in for FF 4 - would be nice to be able to install add-ons without having to restart the browser.


July 8, 2010, 2:08 am

@Jay I've installed them side by side and it works fine.

@Pbryanw They seem to share bookmarks and settings

It looks so much better than 3.6 and is very, very fast. Dare I say it, it seems a little nippier than Chrome 5 on some sites.


July 8, 2010, 4:21 am

@Me - Heh, I've just found out that it's best to turn the menu bar off in FF 4.0, then it looks a lot better. Also, I've found all the usability studies Mozilla are undertaking for 4.0 quite interesting (you can find them by using the feedback button)


July 9, 2010, 5:32 pm

Nooo - Firefox has now implemented my most hated feature from Chrome: making the title tag only visible in the tab. As an SEO being able to see the whole title tag quickly and in full is very important.

I think Chrome goes overboard on space saving.

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