Mozilla Firefox 18 Puts On Speed - InformationWeek
Government // Mobile & Wireless
05:00 PM
Connect Directly
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Mozilla Firefox 18 Puts On Speed

Faster JavaScript compiler and Retina graphics support in latest version of Mozilla's Firefox browser might help it keep pace with Chrome.

CES 2013: 7 Standout Technologies
CES 2013: 7 Standout Technologies
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Mozilla on Tuesday released Firefox 18, the latest update of the company's popular open-source Web browser for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

Firefox 18 includes improvements in speed, graphics and networking, all of which are much needed to help Firefox keep up with Google's Chrome browser, which has been gaining market share at the expense of rivals.

A new JavaScript engine, IonMonkey, makes Firefox 18 faster. Unlike its simian-suffixed predecessors TraceMonkey and JagerMonkey, IonMonkey supports intermediate compilation, which allows code-to-machine language translations to be checked and optimized for faster final output.

[ Google is carving out more ISP territory. Read Google Brings Free Wi-Fi To New York. ]

Mozilla engineer David Anderson said in a blog post that as a result of IonMonkey, Firefox 18 runs 26% faster than Firefox 17 using the Kraken benchmark and 7% faster using Google's V8 benchmark.

AreWeFastYet's recent benchmark performance comparison between Apple's Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox both with and without IonMonkey suggests Mozilla still has some work to do to catch up with Chrome.

Anderson concedes as much in his post. "We still have a long way to go: Over the next few months, now with our fancy new architecture in place, we'll continue to hammer on major benchmarks and real-world applications," he said.

Mozilla's engineers will have to hurry. Speed is not the only reason Firefox appears to be losing market share to Chrome, but it's certainly among the most significant reasons after Google's distribution power is considered. In any event, the edge Google has in marketing Chrome through its search page and through Android might diminish somewhat as Mozilla's Firefox OS begins appearing on mobile phones around the world in the months ahead.

According to Internet metrics company StatCounter, Chrome had 36.42% of the global browser market in December 2012, up from 27.27% a year earlier. Firefox finished 2012 with 21.89%, down from 25.27% in December 2011, and Microsoft Internet Explorer also declined during the same period, dropping from 38.65% to 30.78%.

Firefox 18 adds support for Apple's Retina display on Mac OS 10.7 or later. Although these high-resolution screens aren't quite commonplace yet, Mozilla had to add this feature to keep pace with Chrome, which added Retina graphics support to its stable release channel in August 2012.

Another new feature in Firefox 18 is support for WebRTC, an API for real-time voice, video and file sharing through the browser, without plugins. The API provides developers with the opportunity to create innovative browser-based communications apps.

Firefox 18 also includes several other improvements and fixes, such as faster performance when switching tabs and better-quality scaled images. It's available for download from Mozilla's website or through Firefox's automatic update mechanism.

The Android version, which adds opt-in search suggestions as well as new phishing and malware protection, can be downloaded from Google Play.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll