Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Firefox 13 Review

Firefox 6Firefox 13, the latest Rapid Release version of Mozilla's browser was released on June 5, 2012. Having upgraded to this latest version and running the Peacekeeper Browser Benchmark test, it's a much better version than the earlier Firefox 12.

In fact, the last Firefox 12 version was one of their worst, as far as I'm concerned. It crashed frequently, especially during the first few days, though it got better later. I reported all the crashes to Firefox with strong critiques and details that they required to fix that issue.

Anyway, lest I digress, Firefox 13 comes with over 1,300 bug fixes, is much smoother, and faster overall. So what did Mozilla do to get Firefox 13 to run better than its previous version? Well, for starters they enabled smooth browsing by default.

The restored tabs that run in the background do not load by default, rather only the current open tab. Once you click on the other restored tabs, they start to load. This increases the start-up time and in the process less memory is used.

SPDY is also now enabled by default. SPDY is a networking protocol, similar to HTTP, which increases browser security and increases web page load time. This feature only affects those websites that use SPDY protocol like Google Search, Twitter, Gmail.

There are a couple of new features in Firefox 13. One of them is the New Tab and the other one is the redesigned Home Page. The New Tab now displays large icons of the most visited and most recent tabs. These icons can be customized by dragging them to different places on the page as well as pinning or deleting them. Web developers will see some improvements as well in Firefox 13.

The new redesigned Home Page now displays your default search engine as well as some menu options as icons like Downloads, Bookmarks, History, Add-ons, Sync, and Settings. If you haven't customized your Home Page, you can click "Home" icon. If not, you can type "about:home" in the browser URL bar to display the default Home Page.

Below are the results of the Peacekeeper Browser Benchmark test that I ran on Firefox 13 and Google Chrome 19. Overall, Firefox 13 did much better than Firefox 12 in all areas, however, Google Chrome still continues to outperform Firefox.

Below is an interesting Global Browser Usage chart which compares the top internet browsers year-over-year as at June 2012. As you can see, Firefox which was in second place has been overtaken by Google Chrome.