Mozilla releases Firefox 4 beta 7

A new beta version of Firefox 4 hit the web today, and it’s packing the new, faster JägerMonkey JavaScript engine. You can download the new beta here.

A quick look at the accompanying release notes reveals a host of improvements over and above the updated JavaScript engine. For example, WebGL is enabled by default on both Windows and Mac OS X, assuming a Open GL-capable graphics card is available. In addition, Firefox 4 beta 7 adds hardware acceleration for some rendering operations, employing Direct3D 9 on Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS X.

Moving up from Firefox 3.6? There’s a long list of changes that have been made since then: Direct2D hardware acceleration for Windows 7 users, plug-in crash protection, support for HSTS security protocol, Firefox Sync, improved tab management, and a new HTML5 parser, to name a few.

Firefox 4.0 isn’t expected to be released in final form until early 2011. In the meantime, beta 7 provides a good opportunity to see where Mozilla is taking its prized possession.

Comments closed
    • Skrying
    • 9 years ago

    I just installed this beta. I hadn’t tried any of the Firefox 4 betas yet so this was my first go. There was one thing I wanted to test… the resizing behavior when I have many tabs open and close one.

    You see… in Chrome and Safari if I have many tabs open and go to close one the tabs maintain their current size and therefore the X close button falls right under my cursor when the next tab slides over. This is superior behavior. Firefox, however, instantly resizes its tabs. This means you cursor is not aligned under the close button. This means with Chrome I can close multiple tabs quickly and easily. In Firefox doing so is just extremely annoying, the browser is getting in my way.

    The fact that they’ve kept this weird behavior even after the UI redesign is rather frustrating.

      • Prospero424
      • 9 years ago

      Well, That’s all well and good until you have so many tabs open that you run out of room. When that happens, Firefox – due to the way it resizes – handles it MUCH more gracefully than the others.

      It’s all a matter of preference. Just because a solution seems superior to you doesn’t it make it so objectively.

      There’s bound to be an extension that you can use to modify this behavior, anyway. I haven’t tried out any of those in a long time but maybe someone else can chime in with a suggestion?

        • Skrying
        • 9 years ago

        There’s no way Firefox handles that better. There’s literally zero benefit from that instant resizing. Your cursor is never aligned to anything but the name of the tab.

          • Prospero424
          • 9 years ago

          Meh, it’s a subjective argument. I know plenty of people who would disagree with you and plenty who would agree. I’ve tried both. I use Chrome every day, and I much prefer the way Firefox handles tabs.

          Like I said: there’s almost certainly an extension that would solve this for you.

    • adisor19
    • 9 years ago

    Jesus, the memory usage went up quite a bit from beta 6 to beta 7 ! :O

    Adi

    • ltcommander.data
    • 9 years ago

    It’s nice that they are also using DX9 for hardware acceleration instead of just Direct2D so that Windows XP isn’t left out. Now if only more corporate IT would allow more Firefox usage.

    • Prospero424
    • 9 years ago

    Beta 6 was dog slow, but at least it was usable.

    I just installed beta 7 and it’s so riddled with add-on compatibility bugs that it’s almost useless. They removed the status bar from the bottom of the browser that a LOT of add-ons used for notification and configuration, now you have to shoehorn them into the toolbar, and some of them just don’t “like” sitting up there.

    EDIT: It looks like a lot of these problems (disappearing addons, sync breaking, bookmark toolbar breaking) are being caused by the Webmail Notifier addon version 2.6.3. Even though it lists it as compatible with this beta on the Mozilla Addons site, don’t believe it. Wait for an update.

    In the past 45 minutes (with a CLEAN install, mind you. I completely rebuilt my profile from scratch), I’ve had crashes, I’ve had all of my addons and plugins completely disappear from the addon manager – blank screen, I’ve had noscript repeatedly lose and mysteriously regain the ability to, you know, function. I STILL can’t permanently remove the rather large “feedback” button that sits in the toolbar. The Firefox Sync configuration interface absolutely refused to load until I wiped out my profile yet again. And you can just about flip a coin to determine whether or not you’ll actually get anything on your screen when you click on “get add-ons”.

    That being said, performance has taken a remarkable leap forward, at least on my machines. It’s not just the on-paper Java engine improvement, it’s across-the-board improvements in loadup time, general page rendering, and perceived responsiveness.

    Also, Direct2D rendering seems MUCH improved. No more artifacting with YouTube videos embedded in web pages and the font rendering seems to have been tweaked (with positive results) yet again. Tab (re)loading progress indicators have also been given a much-needed overhaul.

    So there’s lots of good stuff in there, too. And I know to expect problems from betas, but for me, this was by FAR the buggiest Firefox release I’ve ever experienced. It seems to be working okay for now after the THIRD time I’ve created a new profile and after I’ve repeatedly loaded my add-ons in, but I’m afraid to even breathe on it for fear that it will freak out in some unexpected manner again.

    At least now it’s crystal clear to me why the final release was pushed back into 2011. It badly needs those months of further development.

      • EndlessSnowfall
      • 9 years ago

      I have been running the Firefox/Minefield nightly builds, which are beta 8 pre, and haven’t had very many issues, with only one lost add-on.

      The status bar can be brought back in limited functionality as an add-on bar, found in the options menu, next to the options for viewing other toolbars, at least in this nightly.

        • Prospero424
        • 9 years ago

        Thanks for the tip. That might have saved me some headaches. It’s probably for the best that I get used to living without the statusbar, though.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Running constantly for half a day with noscript, something that blocks someotherthings, and a few other add-ons and zero stability issues and a few minor add-on issues. I brought over my profile from beta 6, which was rebuilt about 2 weeks ago.

      I moved noscript functionality into the toolbar per recommendation below without issues, and I removed the feedback icon by right clicking, customize, and dragged it to the toolbar dialog boxg{<.<}g

        • Prospero424
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, I’ve got it running pretty well, now.

        But that Feedback button will reappear next time you start the browser. That’s the first thing I tried. I think you have to outright disable the Feedback plugin to get rid of the icon permanently, which is kind of stupid given its large size.

    • plasticplate
    • 9 years ago

    I cant believe i’m saying this, but i feel IE9 is better than Firefox beta right now. I remember switching to firefox back in 2005 when i was in school and at that time i was just ecstatic about the new browser. It was better than IE in every aspect at that time. Dont know what happened over the time….but i was using firefox beta 5( i think, not sure if it was 5 or 6), and it left me feeling disappointed. Page loading was fast but the browser itself felt sluggish compared to IE9 which was snappy. But more importantly, it screwed up the extensions on my regular firefox, which was unacceptable. Hope mozilla can turn it around and get back to what they used to be. In the meantime i shall use breathtakingly fast chrome with its improperly rendered web pages 🙁

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    Firefox 4 beta 6 left a really bad taste in my mouth. It was so damn laggy, had my hard drive grinding the whole time. Sticking with 3.6 until they release the final version.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      4.0b6 was pretty much garbage on my work PC, which admittedly has a few gremlins – but 3.6 seems fine, so I don’t know what the deal is. Intel integrated graphics + Aero + Direct2D = suckfest maybe?

    • etilena
    • 9 years ago

    stopped using firefox since version 3.5/3.6? chrome to me seems to load faster, feels snappier and has less clutter, which i prefer. having a single search/address bar works for me. i keep firefox just for when chrome decides to crash on certain websites.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Goodness gracious, they actually managed to significantly improve page (scrolling) framerates when Flash is in use! I never thought I’d live to see the day.

    So near, and yet so far away. Still not reaching the low CPU utilisation of Opera and – I’m guessing here -, Chrome.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    So um they took status bar at bottom out, which makes it cleaner, but also removed noscript and other icons. Now for the hunt on how to return that…

    One cool feature is if you hover over a link in window or in a bookmark, it shows the url within the address bar, which in my mind is a more logical place to examine. They should take this further and resolve url shorteners for you so you can see where you end up, probably is an extension for thisg{<.<}g

      • jackaroon
      • 9 years ago

      You can customize the top side toolbars, or go into the addons’ options and tell it not to hide the noscript submenu from the context menu.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        ah, cool. Thanks. I added it to the top toolbarg{<.<}g Also using tabs on top+sharing line with url/search, I like how the url/search will shrink as I add tabs, much better than my previous layoutg{<...<}g

    • jstern
    • 9 years ago

    I use both firefox beta and internet explorer beta, and I don’t mind the wait for a final release, since they are both working perfectly for me.

    I use Chrome at school, since it looks nicer on XP.

    • Peffse
    • 9 years ago

    I won’t upgrade until they support windows 98!

      • Logdan
      • 9 years ago

      Well… I’m not upgrading till they support Windows 95!

        • Peffse
        • 9 years ago

        FINE! I’M INSTALLING WINDOWS 3.1 AND DEMANDING SUPPORT FOR FIREFOX!

          • Blazex
          • 9 years ago

          i’m not upgrading till they put dos support on the list, screw gui’s text based browsing all the way

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            DOS applications can have GUIs

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            You joke, but check out the Arachne browser.

            • jackbomb
            • 9 years ago

            Waiting for a CP/M version myself.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            I want my favourite sites on punch cards.

          • mianmian
          • 9 years ago

          It don’t even support DOS. Ultimate fail…….

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    I love Chrome, but i’m going to try this beta out.

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