Let’s look at some of the individual “game changing” reasons why you might consider upgrading.
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.
Who might want to upgrade? Users of slower PCs who had given up on Firefox because of slowness.
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.
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.
We have seen some of the cool things you can do with HTML5 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.
The 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.
Who might want to upgrade? Anyone concerned about privacy on the web, EFF members.
Tab 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.
Firefox (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.
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!