Is Firefox Really Becoming Dispensable?

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 31, 2012
Updated • Jul 4, 2012

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols questioned whether the Mozilla Firefox web browser has a future in the web browsing market in a new commentary on ZDnet yesterday. Lets take a look at the points that he makes to better understand the argument.

He opens stating that Google Chrome is the browser that is innovating, while Mozilla is not really anymore with the Firefox web browser. He fails to produce evidence for that though. Chrome definitely has pushed other browser makers into concentrating on speed and performance of the browser, and it maybe even did introduce a minimalistic almost chromeless design. But so did other web browsers, from Firefox's extension system to Opera's tabbed browsing interface. And it is a good thing that the companies are pushing each other forward with these innovations.


The main reason why Vaughan-Nichols might feel that way is that Firefox has been in a transitioning period from regular updates into the rapid release process. This period has not brought many changes to the most recent versions of the browser, but that is going to change in the next versions. Lets take a look


Yes, some of those features are already integrated in one browser or the other, but is that really worth criticizing? Hell, Opera Software would cry out all day long if that was the case.


Vaughan-Nichols's second observation is that Firefox crashes on almost a daily basis on various test systems that he is running the browser on. While I cannot refute that, I can say that Firefox is crashing maybe once a month on my core system, and I'm running the aurora build of the browser.

Many factors can play a role here. The systems the browser is running on, the background processes, plugins like Flash or Java, and extensions, the websites that the user opens, and activities in the browser. And Flash look-ups on some systems and not on others? That may depend on the Flash version and the sites that get accessed as much as it may be the browser's fault.

Crashes are a issue, but they can be easily reported to Mozilla who then hopefully will take care of them. I personally would try to fix the issue locally though before I start that process. Install a different version of Flash, try to disable add-ons or install an add-on that is giving you better control over Flash contents like Flashblocker or NoScript.


The third and without doubt biggest complaint is the performance of the Firefox web browser when compared to Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Notice something? I did. Firefox didn’t win a single performance or standardization benchmark. It’s been nice Firefox, but enough is enough. Looking ahead I see the big browsers as being Chrome and IE. Firefox? It’s dropping back in with Opera, Safari, and other interesting, but not especially popular Web browsers.

Firefox is not scoring as well as Chrome in artificial benchmarks. Now that's a valid point (that's sarcasm by the way).Firefox is slower than the  Chrome browser in those benchmarks, sure. Does it mean it is also slower on real Internet sites? Maybe. But are those differences visible to the user? Can you really say that a browser was faster by, lets say 200ms?

The article basically describes a user's own personal experience with the browser. The points the author makes may be valid for him personally, but concluding that this must be the case for everyone is a rather weak argument.  The article feels biased, straight from the summary which states that Firefox 11 is "not very fast" and "really unstable" all the way down to the conclusion that Firefox will be "canceled from the line-up of must use web browsers" if things continue this way.

If you look at the comments below the article on ZDnet, you will notice that a lot of users share this criticism. What's your take?


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  1. rob said on March 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    i completely stopped using firefox since the summer when i upgraded to 64 bit windows. even waterfox doesn’t work properly, which makes me wonder what their deal is. lately i have started using the pale moon 64 bit browser which seems to be fine, but i’m only going to switch from chrome if chrome starts any nonsense.

  2. firefoxlover said on March 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve been using Firefox as of November 2004 and had only once a problem with freezing in v 4. Disabling hardware acceleration fixed the problem then. That was while using an ancient XP machine.

    Tried Google Chrome out of curiosity over a year ago but I dumped it in a few weeks time. It can simply not be compared to Firefox what versatility is concerned. Additionally there are privacy concerns (check their EULA) with anything Google.

  3. jasray said on March 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Firefox is fine with me; I work with students in a school setting. The IT Department offers IE, Google Chrome, and Firefox.

    The only browser that consistently performs well and renders all of the sites we use as teachers is Firefox. The other browsers stutter and choke and usually shutdown which really upsets students.

    However, I must admit I am writing this using Comodo Dragon which I don’t find fascinating or more secure or faster. It’s a bit awkward to be frank. Pale Moon works fine for me; not so sure it really matters.

    FF is my default browser most likely because I know it best and can tweak it to my liking. Say, in Comodo I am looking at my imported bookmarks on the bookmark toolbar. They have gorges for spaces between them which means nearly half my daily sites are off the page. No Smart Bookmarks or way to squeeze them together that I can find.

    So I go back to FF in a moment.

    Enjoy the journey to El Dorado–the perfect browser. Hmmmm . . . .

  4. wat said on March 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    People only use vanilla Chrome because they are unaware of SRware Iron and Chromium. Both offer the same functionality, and don’t have Google’s hooks in them quite as much.

    Agreed that the article sounds like utter nonsense, or maybe user config error. My Firefox uses a good few extensions and it runs like a Swiss watch.

    A Chromium derivative is generally faster to start (than Firefox), in my experience, which isn’t really an issue to me personally. Once Firefox is open it appears to be every bit as fast.

  5. Yoav said on March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Chrome does not work on my machine at all. Opera is very good but I prefer the ultimate customizability of Firefox. For everything I could think of, someone has made a plugin that I can easily download and use.

    No other browser comes close to FF in this respect. I am willing to pay a small price in performance for that, if there is any price – I haven’t noticed a problem.

    1. Harsh said on April 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      All these speed arguments are overrated in my opinion.
      It is fast enough. rarely have any stability issues as well.

  6. Nebulus said on March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Firefox IS dispensable. Any browser is :). Now putting the jokes aside, Firefox is slowly becoming a clone of Chrome. Some might find that is a good thing, but for me it’s different. I don’t like Chrome at all, so I’m not exactly happy with the direction Firefox is going. I am still using Firefox, because it’s reliability (despite what the article says, I can’t remember how long it’s been since Firefox crashed – either on Linux or Windows) and because of it’s excellent plugin system. I’m also using Opera, which in some areas is more configurable than Firefox+plugins, but it takes a lot of time to tweak it. I’m finding myself using Opera more lately, but it’s more of a personal preference, rather than Firefox becoming dispensable.

  7. Finvana said on March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Since version 4 Firefox is downfalling. Mozilla is transforming its browser into a piece of bloatware.

  8. Anon said on March 31, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I’d love to get rid of Firefox, but the extensions are what keeps me into it.
    Chrome might have the lead on other features, but as far as I know, there are no addons for Chrome that prevent a site from loading content. What means that if you are blocking contents (See addons IMGlikeOpera, adblockers, flashblock/etc), in Firefox they are blocked, while in Chrome they are loaded, then removed. Unless that changed recently and the addons capable of that already exist.

    1. hal9000 said on March 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      All those things exist in the chrome extension world.
      I test a web app for a living, day in a day out, and use the latest chrome firefox safari and ie9 on a daily basis.
      I would rate them as a ‘power user’ using all the features of a browser to the max and I rate them in that order. Chrome is without a doubt the fastest most responsive powerful and pleasurable way to experience the internet.
      Firefox crashes, has script errors, needs frequent restarts and slows down the system like no other browser. It is long over due some retirement time. There is NOTHING that I can do in FF that chrome just doesn’t do better.
      I also spend equal time on windows as well as osx with little difference in reliability.

      1. Anon said on March 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm

        Really? Blocking instead of hiding? If you can give me some names I will give it a try right away.

      2. hal9000 said on April 1, 2012 at 12:19 am

        maybe you machine isnt doing it very fast but I have never seen an advert disply then suddenly hide using adblock and ablock plus on chome?

      3. BobbyPhoenix said on April 1, 2012 at 12:48 am

        As of Chrome version 17 stable it uses the API to actually block ads instead of hide them just like Firefox. Both the top two adblocker extensions work great this way.

  9. bastik said on March 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I use Firefox since Version 1.5, and think it has improved since then although there are things I don’t like. All browsers suck, you just need to find the one that works for you. (Valid for most things)

    I look at other browsers from time to time. Up to know Firefox is my main browser.

    Concerning HTML5 I think Chrome is more innovative here. Those are still draft, but one has to try them. (So it’s not bad that FF does not support them right now, but the point goes to Chrome)

    From v1.5 to 2, I have not seen any crashes. Firefox was unstable after that, but for me it was fixed. I haven’t seen Opera crashing. Chrome crashed as well as Firefox, but that’s something that almost never happened.

    All fresh installed browsers start equally fast. (I can’t see the difference and did not measure them) Firefox starts slower than others as it’s packed with addons on some plugins and tons of bookmarks. (A new profile loads as quickly as a fresh install)

    I don’t care that much about starting time. Sure faster is better.

    I noticed that browsers behave different, while others wait until they can display most of the site others wait.

    All browsers work for me. Since IE9 it does not disturb my browsing habits. Chrome is fast, no doubt, I think there’s a difference between Chrome an FF, it really comes to the sites one is browsing on. IE feels slower but it is improving. (Thanks to Opera, Firefox and Chrome; no order preference)

    Page loading is important to me. (Ghacks is very very speedy)

    There where tests that have shown that FF is not the worst browser when it comes to RAM usage. Addons and Plugins add much to the RAM usage of Firefox. (Flash is the worst).

    A fresh Firefox was always nice to my RAM. I can’t say anything on that for other browsers as I never looked into it. However IE is hungry in that regard.

    What I can complain about a Mozilla product’s performance it’s Thunderbird, it’s slow at starting and uses lots of RAM. (At least to much RAM for a mail-client).

    Bloat: (Picked up from the comments)
    Firefox overall has become bloat, because it aimed to be more slim. I understand that Mozilla implemented the Firefox Persona (“dress” Firefox like you want, the skin thing) to have something different that works without any further action.

    Firefox includes many (Web-)Developer tools, which are not necessary for normal users. Mozilla could reduce the bloat by releasing a “Firefox for Developers”.

    I agree with rendering PDF in Firefox as it’s works without plugin. I like the plugin I’ve got (it’s not Adobe reader, which is also bloat, the mother of bloat), but it might be safer to have it in the browser.

    More bloat:
    utorrent turns from a lightweight torrent client into something heavier, at least that’s what I see.
    (That’s a pretty long comment)

    1. jinalbert said on April 2, 2012 at 2:08 am

      Regarding performance… I think you made a good point. All these talks about slow and unstable probably have more to do with ALL the gazilliion add-ons installed, but use once every 6 months. Keep it minimal.

      What I like about FF is the stock of addons. There are few addons that are not avail in Chrome: enjoy reading, quickjava, firebug, tab mix plus, and few more for international languages. To be a bit fair, Chrome do have these: adblock, xmarks, screen capture app.

      As for crashing, stick to the minimal rule. Do you really need 50 tabs going at once? Are you capable of working on 50 tabs? The hording philosophy, the I-might-need-it-someday, or the I-might-read-it-later are irrational behaviors. Use the bookmark, that is what the bookmarks are for.

      Don’t blame the car is bad or slow, if you don’t bother to take care of it!!

  10. RN said on March 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I have Chrome and Firefox installed. I use Chrome to keep a webmail account up on the screen and autorefreshed. For everything else, I use Firefox chiefly because the AdBlock+ and Element Hiding Helper for FF are better than the ones for Chrome. Additionally, when I do need to tweak settings, I like Firefox’s approach better than Chrome’s.

  11. Damirora said on March 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I’m using Waterfox 10.0.1, and I’m having no issues on my end. I’ll say it must have crashed twice or so the entire period of me using it. I have quite a number of tabs and a number of extensions, and my system still runs smoothly.
    The other browsers on my system are IE and Opera for when I need to run some tests.

  12. AC said on March 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    People love to hate Firefox. Articles like this one you mention are ridiculous. I have been using beta versions of Firefox since August 2011 and I haven’t had a single crash. One crash per month at the Aurora stage of development is really good as well.

    Add-ons, clogged up profiles or badly maintained computers are the cause of the problems. Too many people have hard drives that are full of bloatware that slows things down.

  13. no one special said on March 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    to say that Firefox is a clone of Chrome or that it’s full of bloatware are statements made from uneducated users that do not understand the importance of security & privacy in today’s ever evolving “inter-web”. there is no other program out there that will offer you the customization & versatility that Mozilla has offered in a browser platform. MSIE is designed for the general user that has NO idea what java script or a supercookie is & chrome is designed with your wallet in mind so they can sell you an app for “that”.

    is firefox bigger & slower than chrome or MSIE? YES (an open window takes up less room than a door)

    are MSIE & Chrome more stable than Firefox? YES (less updates for innovation & security mean a more stable build)

    is Firefox the most secure browsing tool produced? YES!!!!

  14. h0m3r said on March 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    sjvn is a google fanboy.

    do not take any of his “articles” seriously.

  15. OSS said on March 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Right from the 3.6 (and much earlier versions), never have had crashes (except for the few “rare” ones, with youtube).

    Honestly, speaking Firefox is as good or as bad as any other browser or software out there. Each has its pluses and minuses.

    Love it when people use the word “bloat” without understanding it. Both utorrent and Firefox are still good. Never have had crashes with either or freezes ups.

    The SVJN article can be described in one word: fanbait.

  16. SuilAmhain said on March 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Firefox seems to have become the new IE. I suppose things move in cycles and we will be here in x years time with some new browser threatening to make the web more open and save us from Google hegemony.

    Firefox is stable your mans opinion piece smacks of questionable advertising. I have switched back to FF at office. I have a flash application open in multiple tabs all day long, I open and use Java forms regularly throughout the day as well as normal browsing such as Gmail and ghacks. FF does not crash period. I’m an Opera fanboy since version 9 when I swicthed from FF. FF could defo steal me back with how they are going at the moment.

    Anyone who uses chrome likely cares nothing for the limited privacy still available on the web or for an open even playing field where anyone can write a standards compliant site/browser and have it work the same throughout the web.

  17. SuilAmhain said on March 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Also I recall a post not so long asking for more comments :-D

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      I noticed an upwards trend in comments, which I really like :)

  18. Max said on March 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Been using FF for more than 10 years. I started with the former integrated Mozilla client (since V1) and migrated my prefs.js file to FF and TB. I love its addons and have up to 10 of them active all the time. There’s been ups and downs in the directions and decisions taken by Mozilla and I am also not looking forward to the Chrome-like interface of V13, but I’m sure an extension will bring back the current UI! What I would really like to see is an iOS version because the current FF Home is just a bookmark reader :-(

  19. Doc said on March 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve tried several versions of Chromium and am currently trying [email protected] whenever I need a second browser. Both are missing some of the essential addons I use in Firefox (DownThemAll!, a decent working version of Adblock Plus), and Chrome’s addon support is so extremely crippled I uninstalled it. Add Google’s insistence that “you don’t need a master password to protect your passwords” and Opera’s odd layout, and Firefox will be my browser of choice for a loooong time.

  20. ajad said on March 31, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I;ve been using firefox for let’s guess 8 years(something like that) and it only begin crashing since version 4and the fast release came along, all the 3 version worked fine and felt solid this feels like it’s going to crash everything second even on my 4 core 64bit 12mb ram beast.
    I’m still using it with hope that they’ll stop sleeping at FF development and fix this, I’m also not sue if chrome wll have my addons like yespopups greasemonkey etc, i’ll give firefox beta and aurora a try then if there’s no improvement o’ll check out chrome.

  21. MartinJB said on March 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Not one particular browser is indispensable. Back in the earlier days I used Netscape because IE was pretty bad then, later Opera (paid for it too), tried FF around version 3, used it for a long time. I now have Waterfox 11, Opera 11.62, Aurora 13.0a2, and Chrome 19.0.1084.1 dev-m on my machine. While none have had bad crashes so far I am starting to lean toward Chrome especially with gmail, you tube, no good for some sites as they don’t recognize it ie the banks.
    Opera doesn’t do well on MS Sites and on Google one gets told to download a modern browser. LOL
    In my small test Chrome handles HTML 5 animation best
    I like the fact Waterfox is 64 bit – but does it really make any difference….
    Page load speeds and accurate rendering is more important to me than startup times
    Each one has it’s peculiar quirks (I wish Chrome’s download window would behave like Download StatusBar for FF) Opera doesn’t have the widget/extension support – I’ll use IE 9 if pushed.
    All IMHO

  22. smaragdus said on March 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Firefox had been the best browser until version 4, since then it is the worst- slow, bloated, crash-prone. The Developers of Firefox removed everything useful (status bar, rss) and created a clone of Chrome. Firefox was fun but it is over.

  23. Lui Lui said on March 31, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    i don’t see the point of having 2 or more browsers in one computer, just get ie9, wich works perfect for me, that’ll do the job…

  24. Redbad said on March 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve been using Pale Moon 32 and 64 bit on my XP and W7 systems for a few months now but Mozilla has been my browser since it was known as Phoenix. Crashes have been extremely rare. Like stubbing my toes, yes that’s happened but the when and where are long forgotten and irrelevant. If Firefox is crashing alot on you… um, it’s not Firefox.

    I marvel at the fact that Chrome’s toolbar is still out of reach of the user. As well that the “Web Store” mirrors Ad Block’s Easy List while the useful tools we geeks enjoy are peppered with “beta.” Many others are long-abandoned FF ports submitted by rank amateurs.

    Sadly, the browser that dominates will be determined by the clueless masses and the best add-ons from the Entertainment Channel and ESPN. How could it be otherwise? Introduce NoScript to Aunt Petunia or Cousin Bobby? I don’t think so.

    BTW, Comodo Dragon appears to be, at this point in time, the geekiest version of Chrome.

  25. Jim from PA said on March 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I also feel the article was biased and unfair. His setup needs to be re-imaged/reinstalled before making any judgements. I use both Firefox 11 and Chrome 18. I prefer Firefox for its overall speed and stability. Firefox rarely crashes, but I have had freeze ups with Chrome. I run Chrome on Windows 7 and Chromium on Ubuntu 11.10 on all my machines. Lately I have become distrustful of both Microsoft/Internet Explorer and Google/Chrome, which want to steer you towards their own search engine and content. Mozilla Firefox has no such motivation and has a “do not track” feature that I like. The performance, security, stability, and update of Firefox has been steadily improving. So I’ll continue to stick with Firefox for my preferred browser on both Windows and Linux platforms.

  26. Uhtred said on March 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I’m at the lower end of the market, a cheap netbook, 1gb ram & win7starter 32bit.

    I look for browser that does the job, uses little resources, and gives me good inner window view when not F11’d (10inch screen is only 1024×600). Firefox does this job for me very well, I don’t use much in way of add ons, just a few security enhancements.

    Lots of tech savvy out there will have great computer spec and handle lots of browsers, but most folk will usually stick with one… its less hassle, and people tend to follow path of least resistence, especially if all browsers offer pretty much the same deal. However, when all similar what makes them a better choice? maybe a political perspective?

    Google Chrome has shot itself in the foot for many with its privacy changes
    IExplorer, perceived as establishment … fine for some, but not all
    firefox… trying to be independent
    etc etc

    all will carry on holding a share in market, but perhaps with small changes in market share

  27. Leland said on March 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    This guy is definitely writing an opinion piece as it has nothing to do with being unbiased. Just read his posts heaping praise on Chrome and you will know just how biased he is. He is the same way with Linux though to a smaller degree. I would think being posted on a professional site they would be more based in professional journalism but alas ZDNet can not make that claim.

    Firefox works the way I do and does not have to use a minimalistic interface like Chrome. That combined with the many extensions I use and the fact it never crashes except the occasional flash crash and it is great. I tinker with Chrome from time to time and Xmarks allows me to use my bookmarks in both, but Chrome is just to minimalistic for day to day use. I guess for some users this would be better but not for me.

  28. BobbyPhoenix said on April 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I use Chrome, Firefox, and Maxthon. I keep switching between them every time a new version comes out just to see what is new. Once they all have been out for a while I tend to stick to Maxthon until the next cycle. I also use all versions. From stable, to the nightly builds. I like them all. To each their own, but I see Firefox’s extensions the best to beat when needing special ones. Chrome is getting there, but some are not up to par with Firefox. Maxthon on the other hand has just about every extension you could need out of the box, and also uses two engines (webkit and trident). Very nice.

  29. Roman ShaRP said on April 1, 2012 at 12:19 am

    When I switched to FF from Opera, I looked for browser more correctly displaying pages and, well, very customizable with extensions (I found add-ons to extend FF functionality with things I liked in Opera and even more). Some speed and memory usage were deliberately sacrificed for customizability.

    Chrome is really faster, but it is not good “main battle browser” for me because of constrains in customizability:
    1) AFAIK there is no way to show tabs at bottom in Chrome.
    2) When I looked for extension “Restart Chrome” (like the Restart Firefox), I found nothing.

    And I like to have many pages open, and from my observations Chrome is better than FF on memory usage only with 1-3 tabs open.

    So, I simply don’t see any good reason to switch to Chrome now, and use it only as backup browser and for playing Quake Live.

    As for crashes – I really surprized by that opinion, my FF crashes very rare – and there are Session Manager, restoring all tabs I had before crash.

  30. Dougle said on April 1, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I can’t say I pay much attention to the scribblings that emanate from ZDNet, especially where Chrome is a topic. On the same day this was published we have,15173.html

    At Toms hardware, which I believe is a much more realistic assessment.

  31. Karl Gephart said on April 1, 2012 at 2:17 am

    The only crash I ever had with Firefox was because of a bad Java update. Their plugin update screen tells you what to update. As a designer, FF’s improved developer tools fit my needs better than ever since I was able ditch the resource hog Firebug. Between Mozilla and their developers, I’ve heard that by July ’12, Firefox’s functionality will completely surpass that of Chrome’s.

  32. TS said on April 1, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Chrome has never, ever been faster for me. Firefox and Opera were always consistently faster for me, Opera being faster (with Turbo off). I use firefox as my main browser, though, because Opera crashes a bit more often for me, and starts up a bit faster. Plus, I don’t have to worry about site compatibility, and I like NoScript, which I find easier to use in FF than NotScript. I actually switch between using Opera and Firefox, but Chrome just never felt ready for the big time for me.

  33. tinwheeler said on April 1, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Martin, this may seem simplistic, but you know that I’m an old curmudgeon who believes in the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The last time this subject came up, I said that I will use FF 3.6 until they pry it out of my cold, dead hands. It’s the most stable, customizable browser going. I have a load of Add-ons & tweaks and like me it just keeps chugging along. Hello? Firefox? Is anybody home?

    1. ilev said on April 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

      “I said that I will use FF 3.6 until they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

      Mozilla has just announced the death of Firefox 3.6 recommending its users to move to Opera :-)

  34. Coburn said on April 1, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Been a Firefox user for ages now. Dunno why you guys have Firefox crashes, Waterfox for me has been rock solid and I haven’t experienced any crashes unless I force it to crash.

    The only reason people think Firefox sucks is because of the plugin system. It’s not Firefox’s fault, it’s the plugin (*cough*OracleJava*cough*) developer’s issue for not making it work properly with Firefox.

    In the addons department, I can’t live without my Adblock Plus. I would die without it – I hate advertisements popping up in my face. I just do. In addition, I like my privacy. That’s why I don’t trust Google Chrome sending all my search queries off to some server in the cloud.

    Yes, Firefox is slow to start up, but at least on my PCs, once it’s booted up, it’s FAST. Chrome and it’s spinning arc can go get stuffed, in my testing, Firefox just works better than Chrome. That’s my opinion, take it or leave it.

  35. Raj said on April 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I have been using firefox ever since the version 0.9(when its name was firebird/phoenix). I have tried the Chrome browser out of curiosity and to assess the features and the supposedly “stellar” performance. My verdict is I remain a staunch Firefox user but occasional Chrome player (when using gmail- not that it does not work well in Firefox).

    3 things Firefox beats Chrome flat:

    a) Incredibly customizable interface
    Chrome does not allow you to modify much in its interface. It’s just there and you just have to cope with it. In Firefox, you can change nearly everything from tabs to toolbar icons.

    b) Rich addon environment
    Try mouse gestures and you have two or three Firefox addons for that. You want an addon to customize your tab experience you get tab mix plus. Chrome does not even offer 1/10 of these addons. Even when it does, some of them are paid for. Seriously, I do not expect to pay for something which I can get for free and even better.

    c) Performance
    Many bloggers and reviewers have argued that Chrome performs better in terms of memory and responsiveness. But in real life, I can barely see any difference. Indeed, Firefox has been closing the gap and there is barely such a gap now. You will have plenty of reviewers who measured the memory consumption of the recent versions of both browsers and in some cases Chrome consumed more memory and in others, Firefox did. At the end, the real life experience counts for each user and personally, Firefox did not seem to consume more memory than another browser.

    I personally do not believe in the demise of Firefox. That ZDnet reviewer was just biased and narrow sighted.

  36. nikata said on April 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Who said that? Firefox is a good browser and a lot of users like it. Although firefox is not my only browser (I also use chrome and Avant browser ), I do use firefox everyday. I like switch between these browsers, use this one for some time and them switch to other one.

  37. Reader said on April 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

    After ‘articles’ like that one i think Zdnet is dispensable rather than Firefox

  38. Goce Mitevski said on April 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for writing this! I think ZDNet is only hitting where it hurts at the moment and trying to convert even more users to Chrome.

    Firefox is on the right track. ZDNet trolls.

  39. Leslie said on April 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I have been using Firefox for a number of years now. My reason for changing from IE was speed as I am on a dialup connection – there is no higher speed connection available fullstop).

    However, the current version of Firefox is now slower than IE8 which is very surprising to me. What I have found is that Firefox has a serious rendering problem, pages seem to freeze and after using it for a few hours I always get a message telling me that it is using too much memory (> 300 Megs).

    The nerds who maintain Firefox should actually do some testing at dialup speeds so they can investigate the fundamental problems that exist but are non-obvious at higher speeds. Perhaps then I will feel good about Firefox once more but right now it is a toss up whether or not I stay or go.

    All I want is a browser that browses as fast as possible and allows me to bookmark pages (and if it did a good job of providing standard functionality then addons would not be requirement either). So is that too much to ask I wonder, it seems so right now.

    1. Reply to leslie said on April 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Leslie,

      Try the following and see if they improve on your Firefox experience.

      i) Create a blank new profile – void of any addons and plugins. Check your internet speed at that point.

      ii) avoid installing unnecessary plugins and toolbars – Ask toolbar are notorious. These may be hampering your speed

      Any memory leak or excessive consumption will be due to faulty addons or plugins. I recently had the plugin container component of Firefox hogging my CPU. I resolved it by doing a clean install (uninstall previous profile and uninstall all plugins). I then restored the bookmarks and password file to my new Firefox profile. It worked well since.
      Hope this helps

      NB: these are common for all software even with Chrome and IE is notorious in this area.

  40. John said on April 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Liked Firefox up until 3.6 then it was downhill from there. Went to Chrome about a year ago. Very happy and its getting even better. Still have to use IE for a couple sites. But compatibility has really surged with Chrome’s popularity. Even the US State dept is switching to Chrome! hard to believe but read Hillary confirmed that Chrome is being installed as the new primary browser.

  41. Ken Saunders said on April 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I receive Google Alerts daily for comprehensive Firefox and Mozilla results and the amount of positive articles about Firefox and/or Mozilla on ZDNet are very few and far between. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they spend more time bashing Firefox than writing anything good about it at all.

    ZDNet used to be an excellent tech site and even a trusted source to get good software but they suck now.
    CNET/ is a far better site with more fair and honest journalism.
    Seth Rosenblatt is the best there. He’s written pretty fairly about Firefox over the years. I haven’t always agreed with him, but he has integrity and that’s something that ZDNet writers have lost.
    His latest

    What I honestly just do not get is why people bash and actually hate Firefox now.
    Seriously. Hate? WTF. It’s free, it’s open, if you don’t like something about it, hack it, fork it, volunteer to help out or just go use another product without trashing Firefox.

    I’m one of the biggest Mozilla fanboys that you’ll meet, but I don’t hate Chrome or any other browser and I can point out some things that they do well, but I trust Mozilla the most. I’ve given other browsers a very fair shot and they’re just not for me.

    I run Firefox releases, Nightly, Nightly UX, Beta, Aurora, and even some try builds and they very rarely crash, and they don’t freeze, run slowly, etc and I use a lot of add-ons. I have 50+ enabled in this profile and I have a very modest computer without a tremendous amount of memory.
    If others have issues, well, get help for them or go use another browser that works better for you.

    I’m going on my 8th year as volunteer for Mozilla. They’re truly an awesome organization filled with the coolest, most selfless people that you’ll ever meet, their motivates are pure, and their work is for the benefit of others.
    I cannot say that about other browser makers.

    I’ll use Firefox until it, or I am dead.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      Well this hating seems to be mostly related to computers / gaming. Think of all the gaming hate (my games best, company xyz is cool / sucks), and the same seems to be the case for browsers as well. A lot of users defend “their browser” and attack all others at the same time. Before Chrome, it was mostly Internet Explorer bashing. With Chrome coming into the picture, things seem to have moved slowly away from Internet Explorer as a consequence.

  42. Roy Wallis said on April 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I prefer Firefox because of the extensions, even though it is slower. I listen to Pandora while I browse, and lately there have been interruptions in the music while I am loading other web pages. My solution, and it is working wonderfully so far–I run Pandora from Chrome and browse with Firefox.

  43. 123 said on April 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    ‘Minimalist’ GUIs are a usability ‘regression’. In a few years, they’ll remove tabs.
    I tried SRware Iron, Palemoon, QTweb. All relatively useless due to skimpy interfaces.
    And Mozilla’s attempts to imitate bad UIs may cause problems in FF. FF needs these two extensions just to fix lost GUI functionality:
    element properties 6

    Less obligatory, but ideally oob in any browser:
    searcyhbox sync

  44. 123 said on April 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Some of these pref edits might be obsolete.
    browser.bookmarks.livemark_refresh_seconds;999999999 (can’t completely disable. Alt: export bookmarks, delete then importing into fresh places.sqlite This procedure is confusing, but possible); (url garbage when search yahoo); (url garbage when search yahoo?); (url garbage when search yahoo?);false (pitb annoyance)
    browser.showQuitWarning;true (newb need. better for almost everyone else)
    browser.tabs.closeButtons;3 (keep tab close in perdictable location, fewer accidental tab closes)
    browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab;false (fix annoyance, especially when quickly closing most tabs)
    browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace;false (fix idiotic tab ‘destruction’)
    browser.visited_color;#CC33CC (reduce style trick)
    dom.disable_window_move_resize;true (avoid similar trickery)
    dom.disable_window_open_feature.toolbar;true (avoid similar trickery)
    dom.event.contextmenu.enabled;false (I don’t recall what this does);false (disable spyware aid)
    general.useragent.extra.microsoftdotnet; (disable spy/tracking fingerprinting aid)
    geo.enabled;false (disable spyware aid)
    layout.spellcheckDefault;3 (useful, but partial fail some profiles. conflict with extensions?)
    network.dns.disablePrefetch;true (‘prefetch’. assume disable BW consumption, but enabled might reduce fingerprinting)
    network.http.sendRefererHeader;0 (tracking. proxomitron fakereferrer handles this more intelligently. Very few sites expect a referrer that indicates not BW robbing direct linking images)
    network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer;false (tracking)
    network.prefetch-next;false (‘prefetch’. assume disable BW consumption, but enabled might reduce fingerprinting)
    pref.advanced.images.disable_button.view_image;true (false? I don’t recall what this does, and can’t find info now)
    security.enable_java;false (useless, disabled reduce number of future new exploits.)
    view_source.wrap_long_lines;true (easier to read, usually. But has never wrapped many lines)

  45. Gary said on April 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Firefox is faster than Google Chrome on my boxes. Chrome might be quicker to display some text, but it takes forever for it to finally load all content including images. Firefox just BAM displays the whole page (images and text) all at once. I love this! I find Firefox to be consistently faster than Chrome on most websites.

    I used Google Chrome for months. It excels at innovation, some of which I love but in the end there are numerous things I like better about Firefox. I came back to Firefox from Chrome. Have no plans on leaving as of now.

  46. Gary said on April 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Chrome is more stable than Firefox though. It’s too bad Firefox dumped the Electrolysis plan as this would likely improve stability & security.

  47. Peter (NL) said on April 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I do not see the added value of Google’s Chrome browser. I use FF11 and it is overall fine to me. I believe that Firefox is more a clone of Opera, rather than a Chrome-clone. There are indeed lots of add-ons for Firefox browser, but how useful are these ? There is also crap in the addon database. I try to use as less as possible addons, only the ones that really add value to me !

  48. phillip said on April 13, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I started using Firefox back in 2006. I had dozens of extensions and Firefox was fast.

    Today, I have nine extensions and Firefox is slow and buggy.

    It got bigger with every update, and frequently introduced new “features” that were not features at all but annoyances to be disabled, like “Awesome Bar”, and “You can’t clear your private data with one click anymore. It takes two clicks now, which is faster and better.”

    Introducing a “screw up” as a “feature” is “uncool”.

    I’m using Opera, now. It’s fast, and half the size of Firefox.

    i only wish that Opera had a “slim” version for people who don’t need a “suite” for email, etc.

    That seems to be the one consistent problem: the disconnect between programmers and users that cause programmers to implement stupid things. If they want to experiment, programmers should just keep it on their own machine.

    I used to do some programming. It isn’t hard to follow instructions. Don’t want to lose your customer base? Stop screwing around.

    If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Take your hands away from the keyboard! No techno-trash is required for this program! Move away from the keyboard!

  49. Brian N said on June 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Firefox is jaw droppingly slow on my quad core when a video is embedded on a website. CPU spikes like crazy, extreme stuttering of videos, extreme stuttering of the browser and the system. No such thing with Chrome. The web today is loaded with interactive flash/html5 content and if Firefox cannot display such content without extreme CPU spikes and stuttering, they may as well shut it down.

    I’ve used Firefox for 10+ years and I didn’t even look back when I switched to Chrome. So much better performance everywhere it’s borderline madness how Mozilla continues to make the slowest browser on earth.

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