Say good bye to the memory hog that was Firefox 3.6 and say hello to the new and improved Firefox 4! Set to release today (22nd of March) the new Firefox browser, running on the Gecko 2.0 web platform, boasts a whole heap of new features, plus a rather chrome-like re design.

UI:

Firefox 4 has had a much needed make over, the tabs have been given a new home at the top of the browser and are now more prominent and easy to flick between. In addition to this, you can switch to open tabs by typing in the URL or the page title into the smart location bar. This can be very handy if you have a lot of tabs open. A lot of the features in 3.6 produced popup windows that where easy to lose whereas 4 opens most of its features within the browser. Overall I think Mozilla have done a good job on the design front. I feel their aim was to give more space to the web page and create a much cleaner, slicker feel when browsing.

Add-ons (plugins):

The add-on manager is now built into the browser and offers the ability to install new add-ons straight from the manager. The get add-ons tab suggests new and popular add-ons as well as suggested add-ons tailored to your download habits. We are yet to see the final look of the add-on manager as Mozilla have said that it will be getting a few tweaks before the release tomorrow.

Video:

Firefox has built in support for Google’s WebM video codec that is being used on the current YouTube HTML5 Beta. Although load times are slightly increased, the video quality has improved. The audio on the other hand can sound almost tinny when compared to the H.264 and Theora codecs.

Speed:

When benchmarked against its rivals using Peacekeeper, Firefox is still dragging its heels slightly. Beaten by Chrome (1st), Opera (2nd), and Safari (3rd), it’s not the fastest out there, but is still an improvement on 3.6. Below you can see how the different browsers stack up against each other. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Chrome is ruling the roost when it comes to speed, with Firefox scoring just over half as well as chrome.

Peacekeeper results for Firefox 4 and its rivals.

Verdict:

Holding around 30% of the market share Firefox 4 will be a welcome upgrade to its users. I currently use 3.6 as my default browser, not because I think it’s the best by any means, but because it’s where all of my passwords are saved. At times it’s become a slow prison, the only saviour being google chrome. I for one am very glad that they have turned a new leaf and are heading in the right direction. I love the speed of chrome but I feel it lacks some functionality. Hopefully Firefox 4 will fill the gap and provide the clean, fast browsing experience we all wish for.