It has been a very chaotic week. Earlier yesterday Mozilla had announced to postpone the release of Firefox 11 due to the upcoming security updates for Windows. Pleasantly it changed its mind overnight and released the brand new Firefox. There few shiny features. But few of them mark critical milestone for the very popular open source browser.
“Firefox releases so often that I don’t care!“
Many still dislike the six week rapid release cycle which was announced by Firefox to catch up with Chrome. To alleviate them Firefox released a ESR (Extended Support Release) that is Firefox 10. This release is for those who do not want to update their browsers every now and then. The neat point about this release is that it will be supported for 46 weeks. It will receive the security updates of the newer Firefox releases but no new features mind you.
Download: Firefox 11 [15.4 MB]
So what is new in Firefox 11?
- There is a new 3D inspector in Firefox if your PC supports WebGL. Firefox also adds handful of new features for developers including a new Style Editor. The 3D inspector is really cool.
You need a decent Graphics Card to have smooth 3D view. Also do not forget to turn on hardware acceleration
- Firefox now can import Bookmarks, Cookies and Browsing history from Google Chrome. This is extremely cool for those of us willing to migrate after getting on our nerves with heavy memory consumption of Chrome.
- Firefox now supports SPDY protocol. Another very critical achievement, though Chrome had implemented it long back. SPDY results in page loading to be much faster along with reduction in network connections and CPU required. On enabling SPDY we enabled very fast page loading times. More info on SPDY here.
SPDY is disabled by default in Firefox. To enable it, go to about:config and set network.http.spdy.enabled to true
- Firefox now supports add-on sync. Good god I can not exclaim more about the amount of time it saves for those using Firefox in multiple computers. Mozilla took annoyingly long time to implement this feature which is already present in the form of Google account sync in Chrome.
Firefox 11 vs Chrome 17 and other Browsers
There were times where Chrome was very light weight and Firefox was accused of notorious leakage. We at TechSplurge noticed the opposite trend starting from Firefox 8, and since then have witnessed massive surge in the memory consumption of Google Chrome at the same time when Firefox seems to be performing better and better. Just like the previous test we had opened the following sites
- YouTube, playing a 360p Video : Flash performance
- OMGUbuntu! and Phoronix (Linux Blog Sites) : for static content
- Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Reader , Google Plus Home page. : chosen due to heavy and very dynamic content.
- TechSplurge Home Page and an article page : WordPress Performance
Last time, Chrome had consumed around 1.15 GB of memory and the latest Chrome iteration is even worse in that regard consuming around 1.45 GB of memory. Firefox 11 was pleasantly consuming just 360 MB of memory while churning out all the tabs. At this point, for anyone who does not want their memory to be wasted, we would seriously recommend Firefox 11 now that it has support for SPDY protocol as well.
[note] The huge memory consumption by Chrome may be due to buggy integration of Flash within Chrome. Remember, Chrome uses customised version of Flash while Mozilla uses stock flash shipped by Adobe [/note]
We pitted the latest iteration of Firefox against its predecessor and other major browsers, including Chrome 17.0.963 which was not released when we were reviewing Firefox 10. The other browsers were, Chrome 16, Opera 11.61 and Firefox 10.0.2. The benchmarks we performed were again
Coming straight to the point, Chrome 17 was invincible in Google’s Benchmark. Firefox 11 was at par with its predecessor and showed no improvements. Remember v8 is Google’s own benchmark.
When it came to Sunspider Benchmark however, Firefox 11 stayed at par with Firefox 10 beating Chrome massively. Chrome 17 has regressed quite a bit this benchmark compared to Chrome 16.
Hardware Acceleration Stress test Scores remained constant across all the browsers with every browser apart from Opera 11.61 scoring above 60 FPS.
Without much flashy features, Firefox 11 with Chrome Import, Add-On sync and SPDY support is a crucial release for Mozilla. With the really low memory consumption just being an icing on cake. At this junction of time, it has been a really disappointing experience to witness the increasing bloat in Google Chrome, which was once the fastest AND lightest browser. Not to mention that that Chrome was hacked within five minutes recently . You know which browser to choose now, dont you?
Download: Firefox 11 [15.4 MB]