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upgrading firefoxThe Firefox web browser has featured prominently in the browser wars of the past decade, and the latest incarnation of our furry friend, version 4, is tentatively scheduled for a late-February launch. We first brought you news of the Firefox 4 beta Test Run: First Impressions of Firefox 4 Beta Test Run: First Impressions of Firefox 4 Beta Read More in July 2010, and now that the features that will be included have been finalized, what might make you want to upgrade if you currently use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or any other browser?

Let’s look at some of the individual “game changing” reasons why you might consider upgrading.

Speed

Firefox 4 improves over the speed of Firefox 3 in a number of different areas. They have rebuilt the javascript engine from the ground up, giving noticeable performance improvements specifically on script intensive sites such as Gmail.

firefox upgrade 4

Not only have the rendering times improved, but the overall speed of the browser was a major goal of this version. Your 3D graphics card is also used to assist in rendering web pages. On an older computer, I had given up using Firefox 3 because of the slowness of it – Chrome was the only way I found to speed up browsing. Loading Firefox 4 on this machine gives me at least anecdotal evidence that the speed of the browser itself has improved greatly; and it is now bearable even on older systems.

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Who might want to upgrade? Users of slower PCs who had given up on Firefox because of slowness.

Security

upgrading firefox to 4The new Firefox 4 organizes Javascript programs into compartments, further proving that Firefox takes your security concerns seriously. Moving away from Internet Explorer to just about any browser is an improvement over your personal security, but Firefox 4 has taken this to another level.

Since Firefox 4 is open source, the codebase is available for review by anyone. As with any web browser security flaws are often found and fixed – but since Firefox is more open about this I give them an edge over Internet Explorer or Safari.

Who might want to upgrade because of security? Internet Explorer holdouts.

The Cloud

firefox upgrade 4

Firefox 4 now integrates ‘cloud’ synchronization of bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history and tabs. If you choose to use this function you can have the above synchronized between Firefox browsers on different computers – and that includes Firefox on Android and iOS devices.

An oft-cited use for cloud sync is looking up directions on your desktop, then while on the road you bring up Firefox mobile and your browser with directions is already open and synced. Although I think this does have a great convenience factor, privacy is an issue you would have to consider whether you want to use this feature or not.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone who browses the web constantly in multiple locations.

HTML5 Support

firefox upgrade 4

We have seen some of the cool things you can do with HTML5 15 Sites That Do Amazing Things With HTML5 15 Sites That Do Amazing Things With HTML5 Read More and Firefox 4 supports these just as with many other new browsers. One thing that Firefox will do that the others can not (as of yet) is the Indexed DB function which is related to offline storage of online data.

To see browser HTML5 capabilities compared check out HTML5 readiness.

Who might want to upgrade? Web standards geeks and designers.

Privacy

firefox upgrade 4The private browsing option, which is a mode where your history, clicks and cache are not saved; now takes a more prominent place in the Firefox tab ecosystem. The Firefox team has also taken it upon themselves to fix a privacy flaw in CSS which let sites know which other sites you had been visiting.

This, along with the great Three Firefox Security & Privacy Add-ons that can Co-exist Three Firefox Security & Privacy Add-ons that can Co-exist Read More Security 10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons 10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons Read More and Privacy Keeping Safe on the Web: 8 Firefox Addons for Privacy and Security Keeping Safe on the Web: 8 Firefox Addons for Privacy and Security Read More addons available for Firefox, make it one of the most privacy capable browsers currently available.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone concerned about privacy on the web, EFF members.

New Looks

upgrading firefoxTab groups, a new UI, and other small enhancements have refreshed the Firefox interface. In my opinion, it has finally moved away from its Mozilla days and have entered a new era. It is minimalist, using all available space at the top to let your web pages take up the maximum amount of screen.

Tabs can also be pinned to the opened tab list, turning them into permanent App Tabs.

Who may want to upgrade? Those tired of the looks of their old web browser.

Addons

upgrading firefoxFirefox (and Mozilla before it) have always had the best plugins available anywhere. Firefox 4 is no different, and many major addons are already compatible with version 4. Firefox’s wide range of addons give you the ability to do just about anything with the browser, from adding extra security to turning it into a kid-friendly experience.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone who loves to tweak their browser and really get the most out of it.

In Summary…

Firefox 4 is a pretty big advancement over the old versions. There are tons of smaller features that are also in this version and from what I saw of beta 9 it is almost ready for release and is perfectly stable. If you want to be ahead of the curve, check out Firefox 4 beta today and keep an eye out for the final release towards the end of February 2011!

  1. Abigale
    March 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

    you've forgot the best new feature. to handle non-hyperlinked siteslinks via rightclick as hyperlinks. very usefull.

    • Aibek
      March 15, 2011 at 8:55 am

      thanks for the tip!

  2. Viking
    February 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I got tired of making coffee to kill time while FF loaded a single page. So last year I switched to using Chrome-Portable ONLY on my system. It's super fast and does everything I need. Lately, I started using FF beta and found it just as fast. Love the sync feature. I only use Gmail and have several accounts for work and play. So, I use FF for work at home and at the office. I can open both accounts at the same time, one in Chrome (personal), the other in FF. All work browsing histories and bookmarks are sync'd. It makes for an easy seamless transition from here to there. I figured one day they'd get this right. Seems great now.

  3. Carl Mitchell
    February 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Remember kids, Firefox 4 is still in Beta. While for most this means neat features early, for me it meant instability on a grand scale. Your Mileage May Vary.

  4. Bryan "bytehead" Price
    February 7, 2011 at 5:36 am

    I'm running it. Love the speed. Wish a few more of my extensions I use under 3.6 would upgrade.

  5. Anil Jadhav ?
    February 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Still Chrome is best.

  6. Aibek
    February 5, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Yes, it is!

    See,
    http://www.google.com/search?q...

  7. Amitash
    February 5, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Is firefox 4 still in beta??

  8. Aibek
    February 5, 2011 at 3:27 am

    agree, that is one of the few features because of which I keep Chrome
    as my secondary browse. I use both FF and Chrome.

  9. CheetahDeals Blog
    February 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Will any browser beside Chrome implement the unified search/address bar?! Seriously, once you get used to it you cannot move to a different browser.

    • Aibek
      February 5, 2011 at 2:27 am

      agree, that is one of the few features because of which I keep Chrome
      as my secondary browse. I use both FF and Chrome.

  10. aditia
    February 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I'm still waiting for the stable version, even it will look like opera, still love it

  11. Christian
    January 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I love Firefox since the first time I used it from an internet cafe in front of our school. It has all the things I need and it makes my browsing experience SO MUCH BETTER! Thanks a lot to its addons! My only problem with Firefox is its very slow start up time but hopefully, Firefox 4 has an improvement :)

    BTW (Off-topic) I just would like to tell you guys that MakeUseOf has been featured in Manila Bulletin, one of the most famous and trusted newspaper in the Philippines. Congrats and keep up the good work! :)

    • Dave Drager
      February 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Christian! Yes Firefox is a favorite of mine as well! :)

  12. Christian
    January 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I love Firefox since the first time I used it from an internet cafe in front of our school. It has all the things I need and it makes my browsing experience SO MUCH BETTER! Thanks a lot to its addons! My only problem with Firefox is its very slow start up time but hopefully, Firefox 4 has an improvement :)

    BTW (Off-topic) I just would like to tell you guys that MakeUseOf has been featured in Manila Bulletin, one of the most famous and trusted newspaper in the Philippines. Congrats and keep up the good work! :)

  13. Bryter
    January 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    firefox 4 will not install on my laptop.
    Not responding

  14. Bryter
    January 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    firefox 4 will not install on my laptop.
    Not responding

  15. Guest
    January 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Unfortunately some of the addons I use (including some security/privacy) haven't become Firefox4-compatible yet, so I'll plod along with 3.6 until they do.

  16. Oldgoat1957
    January 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I'm sure I'll be using Firefox 4. I only ever use IE at work, where we have a couple of MS apps that only work properly with it. For some reason, I've never been entirely comfortable using Chrome - and there are some Firefox extensions and themes that I have become attached to over the years.

  17. MicroSourcing
    January 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

    For average Internet users, the changes are so specific and subtle that they wouldn't see the value of upgrading Firefox right away.

  18. The Tech Temple
    January 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I've been running with Pale Moon. It's really similar to Firefox, but faster.

  19. Arun
    January 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    New Looks.. well, the Firefox menu button looks quite similar to Opera..

  20. Oldtimer3
    January 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Kinda switched over to Opera, due to instability in FF recently. Just as fast as the rest.

  21. Jeyar_25
    January 24, 2011 at 1:51 am

    i stop usinf FF 3 since i switch to chrome,much faster than FF,but i still use FF only when i need its add ons,FF is slow on starting up,unlike Chrome,fast start up,fast in browsing too...I will lokk forward to test this FF beta 4..I miss firefox too!

    • Kjell Inge Sandvik
      January 24, 2011 at 6:25 am

      I agree 100% - same experience here.

  22. Marie
    January 24, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Well, they had me 'til the new look part. I loaded Chrome the other day, took one look and ran straight back to Firefox. I don't like the look of this any better, too similar to what I hated there.

  23. Harveylas
    January 24, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I have also been using the Beta for a while and love the increased speed. Like the others I found myself using Chrome more and now I should not have to. I am anxious for them to get all my old add-ons compatible.

  24. Jeena
    January 23, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Gr8 information .. i want to change for it ! thanks

    • Dave Drager
      February 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      No problem, love the FF!

  25. Andy Rhine
    January 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Just loaded it yesterday. Last one I tried was beta 7, 9 is much better!
    I installed a nightly build of greasemonkey that is integrated even. Very fast, liking panorama tabs, nice.

    One gripe is the change in rss feeds not showing up in the address bar, have to add a button for them to the bar.

    • Dave Drager
      January 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      Yes the RSS thing got me too. Fortunately there are addons that let you change that and it is easy enough to fix for RSS junkies like us!

  26. Andy Rhine
    January 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Just loaded it yesterday. Last one I tried was beta 7, 9 is much better!
    I installed a nightly build of greasemonkey that is integrated even. Very fast, liking panorama tabs, nice.

    One gripe is the change in rss feeds not showing up in the address bar, have to add a button for them to the bar.

  27. stevenhugo
    January 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Hello,what is you E-mail address?

  28. Zuri K.
    January 22, 2011 at 4:10 am

    I'm too excited about this. I'd been using Chrome mostly for a while now and have been missing FF. This upgrade is much awaited and appreciated. I've missed my personas so much!

  29. acupunc
    January 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I've been using FF4 beta off and on for a while and they've done a good job increasing speed, especially cold start time. However, once you have added a few addons it slows FF4 down considerably--they really need to work on that more.

    It does seem to work very well with hardware acceleration.

    All in all definitely a worthwhile upgrade and certainly one of the best browsers--Chrome & Firefox are the top two IMHO.

  30. Kamekitu
    January 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    i think Chrome is still the Fastest...But FF4 is pretty much faster now! I personally wanna stick with FF.Because FF Add-ons are Awesome!I dont wanna switch to another browser...as a FF fan.

  31. acupunc
    January 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I've been using FF4 beta off and on for a while and they've done a good job increasing speed, especially cold start time. However, once you have added a few addons it slows FF4 down considerably--they really need to work on that more.

    It does seem to work very well with hardware acceleration.

    All in all definitely a worthwhile upgrade and certainly one of the best browsers--Chrome & Firefox are the top two IMHO.

  32. Albert
    January 21, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I'm a die hard firefox fan, but I'm also really impressed by Chrome speed. Can FF4 match Chrome speed?

    • Aibek
      January 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

      i think it's going to be faster

    • Dave Drager
      January 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      In my experience, Chrome starts up faster but as far as browsing experience Chrome and FF4 seem to be on par. FF3 was indeed slower.

      • Aaron Couch
        February 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm

        I am still on FF3. I mainly use Chrome and I like it a lot, but something that keeps pushing me back to Firefox is that Chrome crashes alll thee tiiime. I have tried removing extentions, uninstalling the whole browser, all of it. Nothing seems to help. It's now unreliable. I had some tabs open for research that I had not yet bookmarked in Evernote, Chrome crashed. And I don't mean that it just crashed all the tabs, although that happens too. The entire browser froze. I went to bed hoping I would have my tabs available when I woke up, nope still frozen.

  33. Saikat Basu
    January 21, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Firefox 4 will again spur lot of innovations in the browser world. I hope we notice the speed difference. I already like the tab management features which will help us do away with a few add-ons.

  34. SteveM
    January 21, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Although I still use Firefox at home, I had to switch to Chrome at work. Looking forward to moving back to FF full time.

  35. MartinL
    January 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Hey Dave, Thanks for the article. I am already i love with Firefox 4. Over the last year I found myself using Chrome more and more. Now that I see what's coming with FF 4 I am pretty sure I am going to stick with Firefox.

    • Aibek
      January 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      I feel the same way :-)

    • Dave Drager
      January 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I had moved to Chrome as well, but on newer machines at least, going back to Firefox!

      • Tina
        January 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

        Same here. I used Firefox for bookmarks, tabs, stuff I did routinely. And Chrome for just browsing, reading, research etc. So I really used Chrome more.

    • Jroll1005
      February 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Have you noticed that with firefox some web pages don't load properly. I am a die-hard firefox user; but generally this never happens with ms explorer.

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