Print 21 comment(s) - last by jonc1028.. on Dec 25 at 2:00 AM

Sloppy performance has marred some initial releases

If Firefox 4's betas have been a vision of the future, it might just drive some to using Opera, Chrome, or Internet Explorer 9.  Despite featuring a slick new look, GPU-accelerated rendering, and other nice new features (like tab stacking), Firefox 4's beta releases have been buggier than its past betas, in our experience.  From flat out crashes, to NVIDIA driver failures, to hangups on common video sites like YouTube, the Firefox 4 test builds clearly are far from an acceptable release quality, and seemed to be adding more problems with each build rather than fixing them.

Thus the nature of Firefox 4 beta 8, which is set to air today, is not terribly surprising to us.

The new test build, which represents Mozilla inching towards its critical Release Candidate milestone, offers no new features, unlike past betas.  Instead, the new beta is solely focused on fixing the browsers many bugs and performance issues.  Among the performance upgrades include Firefox Sync setup experience; an overall speed, compatibility and functionality improvement to WebGL, and some "additional polish" to the Firefox Add-ons Manager.

To be fair Mozilla embarked upon a rather ambitious set of upgrades with Firefox 4, with GPU-based rendering perhaps being the toughest of them.  The YouTube video problems clearly seemed to coincide with the introduction of this feature, so its entirely possible that Mozilla bit off more than it could chew.  Firefox 4 has seen a number of delays.

On the other hand, if it cracks down and shores up quality, it may have a winner on its hands.  Mozilla already has great brand recognition, owning approximately one third of the market, by some estimates.  Firefox 4 has the features to be an excellent browser -- it just needs the polish to make browsing more of a joy and less of a headache.

The new beta is not yet live (the download link redirects to Firefox 4b7's download), but we'll update when it is.  The release notes can be found here.  The bug fixes list can be found here.

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Beta Builds are not "Release Quality"....
By zendude on 12/22/2010 12:11:13 PM , Rating: 2
I would suggest looking up the term "Beta" in the dictionary if you expect "Betas" to be "Release Quality".

If these were "Release Candidates", then you may have had a gripe.

RE: Beta Builds are not "Release Quality"....
By JasonMick on 12/22/2010 12:23:06 PM , Rating: 4
I would suggest looking up the term "Beta" in the dictionary if you expect "Betas" to be "Release Quality".

If these were "Release Candidates", then you may have had a gripe.

I agree with you to a certain extent. I think the key issue here is that these beta builds have had a lot more issues, in my experience, than past ones.

Let me start by saying that I've been a heavy FF user for over 4 years now. I regularly use it both in Windows and Linux. Trying out the betas for 4 I've been met with regular and continuous crashes. And to top it off, it can not play YouTube videos reliably. Again, I did notice smaller issues in past betas (e.g. the beta cycle for 3), and the occasional crash -- but nothing this pervasive.

Granted, though I've logged a number of hours with this and past betas, I'm just one person, so my experience may be different then yours.

But from my perspective Mozilla clearly has a lot of issues with their upcoming browser which need to address.

I will be playing with Firefox 4b8 (in Windows 7 and Linux) over the next couple weeks and trying to get a feel for how much improvement has been made. But I firmly believe that Mozilla may need more betas to resolve all of these issues, if b8 doesn't manage to address them all.

Again, I'll give Firefox that it's fast and still has the best extensions catalog, but when it crashes every couple hours, that becomes a major detraction. And again the only reason I think that's worth noting is due to the fact that past beta cycles (in my testing experience) didn't have this many issues.

As it is FF 4bx is my day-to-day browser, but if Mozilla doesn't address these problems by release, I will likely switch to a different browser for primary use.

By smitty3268 on 12/22/2010 2:21:03 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I switched from FF3.6 to 4b7 a couple of weeks ago and haven't really had the same experience as you.

I have had several crashes, but they all seem to stem from the same issue - increased memory use. (Which is causing it to hit the 2GB virtual address space limitation for 32bit apps in windows). Memory usage should go down in future betas, there are lots of open bugs on it being worked on. Just now switched to b8, so we'll see if it's any better.

I haven't had a single other issue cause crashes, though, or any problems with Youtube, etc.

RE: Beta Builds are not "Release Quality"....
By Justin Time on 12/22/2010 4:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
You are still missing the point in complaining about bugs in a Beta.

Beta is a feature complete stage released for testing and debugging. The primary aim of a beta is to find bugs, not to demonstrate release quality.

Whether or not previous betas have been more or less buggy is irrelevant. It's a Beta, and by definition that means it has known bugs.

Bottom line is, if you don't like dealing with bugs, don't sign up for a beta.

RE: Beta Builds are not "Release Quality"....
By wordsworm on 12/22/2010 6:47:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think Jason is just looking for some kind of polished master beta.

By bug77 on 12/22/2010 8:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
I remember, several years ago, I has some not so nice experiences with Mozilla 1.6 alpha. All their alpha versions until then were rock-solid, but this one was not. I think that is what Jason is trying to describe here.
I didn't see a single crash on Windows or Linux, but maybe the OSX version is buggier...

RE: Beta Builds are not "Release Quality"....
By Bonesdad on 12/22/2010 10:46:15 PM , Rating: 2

By wordsworm on 12/23/2010 10:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
Nice to see someone clued into my homophone.

By Strunf on 12/23/2010 9:45:32 AM , Rating: 2
A beta is a beta... I don't understand where the people got the idea that a beta should now be a release candidate or something on that line. The purpose of a beta is exactly to allow as many "things" as possible without necessarily being bugfree, it's as pretty normal that as programs become more complex there will be more bugs in the code specially on the development stage.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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