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Sunday November 23rd 2014

Firefox 4 Beta 9: Mozilla Means Business in the Browser Wars





As 2011 begins, browsers will undoubtedly be one of the biggest competitive arenas in all of open source. We’ve already predicted that users will drift toward a more need-driven model for choosing a particular browser than they ever have before. Google Chrome has been steadily gaining market share, and starting early last year, it began gaining market share while Mozilla Firefox’s share has stayed pretty steady. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, of course, still has leading share, but is steadily dropping.

For Mozilla, one of the biggest releases of this year will be Firefox 4, a major upgrade of the browser. Last Friday, Mozilla made Beta 9 of Firefox 4 available, and it’s ready to use.

Many are predicting that Beta 9 of Firefox 4 will be the last pre-release version of the browser before the Release Candidate. As has been true for most of the past few releases of Firefox, the late beta versions are very steady, and benefit from feedback from huge numbers of users. (Mozilla is requesting feedback on Beta 9.)

Firefox 4 upgrades the way bookmarks and browsing history are handled, offers much faster performance, and, in particular, boasts faster startup time. Google Chrome has been steadily booking the fastest startup benchmarks among all browsers, so Firefox does need to catch up there. Chrome has also largely leveled the playing field with extensions, too, as most popular extensions are available for it as well as Firefox.

In all likelihood, competition between Firefox and Chrome this year will come down to exactly what users need. Google has made clear that it is going to support non-prevalent video standards over the very prevalent H.264 standard.  That could prove to be divisive, or it could be perceived as innovative and open by many users. Using Firefox 4 Beta 9, though, it is clear that open source browsers are defining innovation in the product category, and the duke-out between Firefox and Chrome will likely be a big story all year.

 

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