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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.




“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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