The long anticipated Firefox 4 from Mozilla is finally out of its beta and RC phase. I just installed it a couple hours ago, and here are my first impressions.
Aesthetically, other than the new Tab Group feature, I don’t see anything special. It feels faster browsing from page to page and from site to site; but, this could be a placebo effect. Mozilla states that this new version is 6 times faster than its predecessor. While it may be faster at loading pages, I don’t see much improvement in terms of browser launching time. Firefox was always the slowest to load and it still is.
Overall, I’m satisfied. I prefer the updated look/feel and functionality over version 3. I’ve waiting a long time for Firefox 4 to be released and it is as expected. Firefox 3 was lagging behind other browsers in terms of aesthetics, performance, and Windows 7 integration (ie. Taskbar Jumplist) to name a few off the top of my head.
Pros: Looks modern, feels faster and snappier. Tab grouping looks like a useful feature, but I personally don’t have too many tabs open anyways. Opera-like menu and buttons mean more viewing space on my tiny netbook screen. Add-on manager is much better now, utilizing the full browser window in its own tab. The so-called “awesome bar” has always been better than Opera’s in my opinion, and it still is. But Opera does make up for it by having the auto-complete, which Firefox does not.
Cons: Pressing F6 – which I use A LOT – no longer changes the focus to the location (aka. address or ‘awesome’) bar so I can type in a new URL quickly. It now focuses on the current tab so that you can switch between tabs with arrow keys. This is my biggest issue with Firefox 4. Now, I have to press an extra key (Tab key) to focus on the address bar. It looks like Opera; there’s nothing ground breaking in terms of the interface design. Still no auto-complete as mentioned above.
Overall, Firefox was in need of an extreme upgrade for a while. It’s finally here. Except for the F6 key disaster, it is what I expected it to be. I use Firefox as my main browser, but Opera was slowing creeping up on Firefox in the amount of time I used each browser on a day-to-day basis. I’m writing this only hours after installing it, so this article is based on my first impressions of the browser. I do highly recommend upgrading your Firefox to version 4.