Mozilla Firefox 4 Review
- New Panorama / Tab groups for organizing a large number of tabs
- New more powerful and easier to use add-on manager
- Minimized UI chrome
- Customizable UI, it is possible to reduce UI footprint further or get back old UI
- Integrated Sync support
- Support for restart-less installation / uninstallation of add-ons
- Address bar searches through tabs and lets you switch
- Good support for latest web standards
- Hardware acceleration support
- Sync and Panorama are not as well integrated and full-featured as they could be
- Hardware acceleration does not work across all platforms
- Firefox downloads extensions before confirming installation
- AppTabs don't provide any extra features besides a smaller tab
Firefox 4 is one of the most significant updates to the browser in many ways. Firefox 4 brings some of the great new features that are unique to the browser, while still making it competitive in terms of performance. Firefox 4 also bring support for the latest web standards. This release not only makes Firefox up-to-date, but in fact pushes it ahead of the current browser generation.
We have noticed Firefox progress slowly from the Firefox 3.7 days to now (there was originally supposed to be a Firefox 3.7 between 3.6 and 4.0), seeing each piece of the plan fall into place. Is Firefox 4.0 everything Mozilla expected it to become? Perhaps not, but as the biggest change yet to come in the history of the browser, it is no less significant.
Firefox 4 will also probably be the last major change in the history of the browser. Mozilla has recently decided to move Firefox to a faster release cycle like that of Google Chrome. Why you may ask? Are they just trying to copy Google Chrome? Is this a war of version numbers? No!
Another point of contention here is that these releases are labelled as Firefox 5, 6, 7 while Mozilla could as easily have called them Firefox 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, each shipping on schedule. In such a case though, there would still be a concept of major and minor releases
A fresh new look
While the browser's UI was refreshed with each new release, the basic UI remained the same till Firefox 3.6, the same locations for tabs, similar menus etc. Individual aspects such as the download manager, and the add-on manager went through bigger UI changes though.
Current trends dictate a smaller UI footprint, as websites take over many of the functions that we have usually reserved for browsers. This is especially true of web applications, which usually remain open in the background as people browse the web. Once such as website it opened, you usually have little need for a back, forward and reload buttons, or even the address bar. Firefox 4 optimizes UI space for the content that need to be displayed.
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