As you have undoubtedly heard by now, Firefox 3.6 has been released. I’ve been using it for a few days now (I picked up the release candidate earlier this week), so I have a few thoughts on it.
- Faster Performance
- If Firefox 3.6 is faster than 3.5, then it’s not by much. I have yet to see any gains. When I installed Firefox 3.6, I blew away my old installation completely. I’m using a new profile, with a fresh install, and cold starts still take upwards of 15 or 20 seconds on my laptop (Core 2 T7400 at 2.16 GHz, with 2 GB of memory, on Win XP). I only store 14 days of history (versus 90 days by default), I turn off the Awesomebar (which I hate), and I only use 7 extensions (Adblock Plus, CoLT, Console2, Firebug, Googlebar Lite, Linkification, and Web Developer), none of which seem to be the problem. Mozilla had better make significant gains here in the future. Browsers like Chrome are literally miles ahead in this realm (Chrome cold-starts on my system in as little as 5 seconds).
- HTML 5
- I haven’t played with the HTML 5 stuff, but there’s been plenty of news about websites adding HTML 5 variations of their content (like YouTube and Vimeo). The only problem? Firefox doesn’t support the H.264 encoding being used by these sites! I understand their licensing standpoint, but if the world chooses H.264 over OGG, they had better jump on board pretty quick.
- Do we really need Personas? This feels like something that AOL would have rolled out back in the day, for every grandma computer user. The real-time preview mechanism feels very scary to me; the fact that document-level content can alter the look and feel of my web browser feels like a security nightmare waiting to happen. What kinds of exploits will crop up as a result of this?
- Plug-in Checker
- This is the one feature of 3.6 that I actually appreciate. A new update mechanism allows you to quickly see if your plug-ins are out of date, which was pretty painful before. Unfortunately, I have a number of plug-ins on my laptop here that aren’t recognized by the updater, but maybe that will improve with time.
I’m hoping that the next release of Firefox, whenever that may be, will be a step in the right direction. Lately, Mozilla really seems to be heading into some strange territory. As much as I love Firefox, I’m growing tired of the bloat, I dislike their possible plans to ditch extensions, and the new UI features seem insipid at best.
The only thing holding me back from moving to Chrome (which I also enjoy), is the lack of decent extension support. When that feature gets implemented, I just may switch, so consider yourselves on notice Mozilla. The next Firefox release had better be good to win back my respect.