Mozilla looks to challenge Chrome with Firefox Quantum

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,388   +121
Staff member

Mozilla’s next major browser update has arrived. Firefox 57, as it’s sequentially known, is such a drastic improvement over its predecessor that Mozilla has christened it Firefox Quantum.

The new browser is said to be noticeably faster.

In Speedometer 2.0, a benchmark that simulates modern web applications, Firefox Quantum is roughly twice as fast as Firefox was a year ago. As highlighted in the video below, the new browser often appears faster than Chrome. Results will vary, however, based on the computer and apps you use (and remember, the video is from Mozilla so of course it’s going to paint Firefox favorably).

As Mozilla’s Nick Nguyen notes, Firefox has historically been powered by a single CPU core. That changes with Quantum as it takes advantage of the multiple CPU cores in today’s desktops and mobile devices much more effectively.

The browser also utilized a new CSS engine written in Rust that runs parallel across multiple cores instead of running in one slower sequence on a single core. According to Nguyen, no other browser can do this.

Mozilla has also tweaked Firefox to give priority to the tab you’re actively using. This, along with Firefox’s “just right” multi-process architecture, makes for a speedy experience that reportedly consumes roughly 30 percent less RAM. For a browser with a history of being resource-intensive, that is good news.

It doesn’t end there, however, as an internal initiative designed to zap instances of “slowness” you might encounter in Firefox has resulted in the correction of 468 such issues. Matters addressed range from “small paper cuts” to “big bottlenecks,” Nguyen notes.

Firefox is also getting a visual makeover. Dubbed Photon, this new user interface is said to feature a modern, minimalist design that puts users’ needs first. For example, if you’re using a Windows PC with a touch display, Firefox menus will change size based on whether you click with a mouse or tap with your finger.

Photon also introduces square tabs, smooth animations and a library where you’ll find saved content like downloads and screenshots.

Pocket, the read-it-later app that Mozilla acquired earlier this year, now comes fully integrated into Firefox. When you open a new tab, you’ll see your top sites as well as trending pages recommended by other Pocket users. And if you use the Pocket app for your mobile device, you’ll get offline access to saved stories on the go.

Firefox Quantum hits the public channel on November 14 although you can skip the wait if you are willing to try the beta – out now for desktop, Android and iOS devices. Devs, meanwhile, are encouraged to give the developer edition a whirl as it includes new tools for those that build content for the web.

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pencea

Posts: 212   +158
Glad to see a browser placing empathizes on speeds again for an update just like the good old earlier Firefox days. Instead of the usual tweaks and features that comes with updates now days.
 
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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,052   +1,378
Just switched to beta. Visual updates are surprisingly not jarring, and noteable improvements in loading script-heavy pages (facebook anyone?). too soon to say for ram usage, CPU usage seems about the same (though it was never high for me).
 

nigel

Posts: 31   +7
What Shaun has forgotten to say that this version is the first release where Mozilla is abandoning support for legacy addons - that make up the majority of the addons available on their site

A significant number of addon developers are either awaiting for Mozilla to release APIs, or to fix bugs in the new APIs or have refused to upgrade their addons.

If you only use a few of the most popular addons or don't use any, then this is the version for you.

As for me, as I am awaiting Mozilla to implement some password management API's, I have reverted to the ESR release chanel that gives me at least another 3 months of a supported product using Addons that I want and need. If Mozilla has not fixed the API issue in time around Firefox 59, then I will have no choice, but to look at alternative browsers. Not that I want to, but because Mozila is making me do so!
 

Stark

Posts: 147   +122
I did install it and it was a "separate" install other than my ESR release I.e. it did not upgrade like other releases but they both used the same folder in c:\ users.
Now it is FAST, and more so than chrome, both in start time and page load time {Version 61.0.3163.100 (Official Build) (64-bit)}, am loving it finally something worth while from M://ozilla. Memory wise I.e. RAM usage, well its Mozilla so kinda streamlined, perfectly acceptable and within limits and in comparison to previous version is a dramatic improvement.
Only downside.... like 0.01% of add on are compatible.
 
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ET3D

Posts: 1,707   +352
55 is already a big difference. I'm a tab hoarder, and that has always been easier in Firefox, but it has become quite slow over time. Firefox 55 made it usable again, and made me prefer Firefox again.

But I'm not particularly looking forward to 57, because, as Stark said, it breaks compatibility with add-ons.
 

Puiu

Posts: 3,939   +2,450
It will still remain as my secondary browser, especially now that most add-ons won't work.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,213   +5,598
Overall I like them BUT every time they upgrade, all my tabs disappear and have to be re-entered. Don't have this problem with any other browser .... you would think by now they would catch on .....
 

EEatGDL

Posts: 748   +461
I'll give it a try on launch date. I still don't like how Chrome handles remembering passwords, still miss Firefox's master password, so if performance-wise they're up to it I'll gladly go back --for me the point that made me go to Chrome was when I tried to open ~10 tabs at once and the browser crashed.
 
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Capaill

Posts: 1,200   +737
A lot of Techspot reviews at once, and I didn't have many add-ons besides add-blocker.
If it was specifically TechSpot tabs then I also had the same problem on a work PC but not on my home PC. After a bit of investigation with TechSpot we concluded that there was something specific to the work PC (possibly Kaspersky antivirus) and the ads that TechSpot uses that was causing massive resource usage, as it stopped as soon as I turned on the ublock origins ad blocker. I have since disabled ad-blocking for TechSpot so I can support them with ads and I just limit myself to having 2-3 tabs open at any one time.