Firefox's big-bang update brings you speed and a new look
Mozilla on Tuesday released Firefox Quantum, and even if you long ago switched to Google Chrome, it's worth giving the browser upgrade a spin.
Why? First and foremost, version 57 of the open-source browser is faster, clocking in at twice the speed of Firefox 52 from March, according to the Speedometer 2.0 benchmark. Mozilla knows Chrome won many of us over with performance, but after months testing it, I can affirm Firefox 57 delivers its promised big bang.
Second, Firefox has an important role to play if you care about the value of the web as neutral tech territory -- a place free of the control Apple and Google exert over our phones and the apps we can run on them. Mozilla's mission is to keep the web open and competitive, and Firefox is how Mozilla works to endow the web with new technology like easier payments, virtual reality and fast WebAssembly-powered games.
"Their mission is a good one and does keep pressure up to keep the web open," Gartner analyst David Smith said. He recommended web surfers use "multiple modern browsers."
Mozilla famously undermined the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer when it launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004. But since that triumph, its fortunes have faded. Google's Chrome is now the most-used browser by far, and Mozilla has largely been sidelined when it comes to phones and tablets. Firefox Quantum, a complete overhaul of the browser that took more than a year's work to achieve, is an attempt to start fresh.
"We pulled ourselves up to and in some cases ahead of Chrome," said Mark Mayo, Mozilla's senior vice president of Firefox. "We doubled the performance of Firefox this year. The tentative goal is can we double it again in 2018."