Home > 1 > Firefox 3.6 Is 15% Faster – Does It Really Matter?

Firefox 3.6 Is 15% Faster – Does It Really Matter?

via Revelations From An Unwashed Brain by the oracle on 1/24/10

At a point where the biggest problem for most is not getting their system hijacked because of a major problem with Internet Exploder, can an extra 15% in speed of execution be that important? For most people, 10% is the point of bare perceptibility, so 15% is not going to change things much. Another item on the list of considerations is the possibility that Mozilla is on its last legs, since its deal with Google expires in 2011.


Mozilla’s Firefox is doomed. Caught between the immovable object of Microsoft Internet Explorer and the irresistible force of Google Chrome, the free open source community’s poster child will soon be relegated to the ash heap of history.

At least that’s my conclusion after sifting through the latest round of excuse-making and finger-pointing coming out of the Mozilla camp. Still laboring to deliver the long-overdue Firefox 3.6 release, Mozilla insiders are now talking about a major restructuring of the entire Firefox development process, leading some to question the organization’s ability to maintain the browser’s increasingly top-heavy code base.

There simply is not as much push to supply Mozilla with dollars when Google has its own browser. As a matter of fact, should we not consider that Google came out with its own browser because it was not happy with the progress of Firefox?

From ComputerWorld we have a preliminary report on the changes –

Mozilla’s new Firefox 3.6 is about 15% faster than its predecessor, Firefox 3.5, but still is a slowpoke compared to the current speed demons, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome, benchmark tests show.

According to tests run by Computerworld, Firefox 3.6, which Mozilla launched on Thursday, is the third fastest of five Windows browsers tested. Firefox renders JavaScript three times faster than Opera 10 and more than four times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE8). It’s also 14.5% faster than Firefox 3.5, the Mozilla browser that debuted in June 2009, a slightly larger speed increase than Mozilla has claimed.

But even with the JavaScript speed boost, Firefox 3.6 can’t match Safari or Chrome. Safari is twice as fast — and Chrome 4.0 nearly twice as fast — as Firefox.

Oops, when the new Opera with the Carakan engine comes out, it too, will be faster than Firefox. Should it be time to go back to the drawing board? Remember that these tests are Firefox without plugins, and when the plugins come, a lot of the speed goes.

Safari edged Chrome for first place in the speed race, beating Google’s browser by about 6.5%, a slightly smaller lead than in a November time trial that pitted Mac versions of the browsers against each other.

Computerworld ran the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark suite in Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) three times for each browser, then averaged the scores to arrive at the final rankings.

Most browser makers have been aggressively promoting improved JavaScript performance for nearly two years now, dating to when Mozilla began touting the performance boost its new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine gave to what eventually was tagged as Firefox 3.5 and Google’s trumpeting the raw speed of Chrome.

Even Microsoft, which had disparaged speed tests, has acknowledged its developers are working on giving the next version of IE a kick in the pants. In November, Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s president of Windows and Windows Live, claimed that early work on IE9 put the browser’s JavaScript speed “on par” with rivals. Microsoft has not yet unveiled a test or preview build of IE9 that can be independently tested, however.

David Mandelin, who works on Mozilla’s JavaScript team, has posted technical details on Firefox 3.6’s JavaScript improvements on the hacks.mozilla.org blog.

Mozilla made other changes to Firefox 3.6 to speed up the browser. The Mac edition starts up about 30% faster than Firefox 3.5, for example, while changes to the location bar — the searchable address bar that Mozilla dubs the “Awesomebar” — on all versions have resulted in what the company claimed were “massive improvements in [user interface] responsiveness when typing in the location bar.”

On another oft-quoted scoring system, the final of Firefox 3.6 did not budge from earlier beta builds of the browser, however. As it had last year during its beta testing, the production version of Firefox 3.6 scored 92 out of a possible 100 on the Acid3 benchmark, which checks how closely a browser follows standards related to DOM (Document Object Model), CSS2 (Cascading Style Sheets) and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

Current editions of Safari, Chrome and Opera all score 100 on the Acid3 test, while IE8 reaches only 24.

92 is good, but when all the others are getting 100, it is pretty pathetic, especially when you see that it is the last to come. That extra time should have been used to make it fully compliant; it really doesn’t matter how fast something gets rendered if the rendering is wrong.

Firefox currently accounts for about 25% of all browsers used worldwide, according to the most recent data from Web metrics company NetApplications.com. With a quarter of the browser market, Firefox is a distant second to IE’s 63%, but enjoys a huge cushion over the current No. 3 browser, Chrome, which has a 5% share.

For more on Firefox 3.6, check out Computerworld’s review here.

I’m sure Firefox will be very popular, but since it is not the speed leader, doesn’t get the best results on rendering correctness tests, and seems like it might be on its last legs, where does it have to go? It won’t go away anytime soon, but it also won’t progress with no money. Its saving grace might be that Microsoft, knowing they cannot do better, buys Firefox, or simply the entire Mozilla Foundation outright.


Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.

Homer Simpson

Ah, the Home[r]spun wisdom!


Categories: 1
  1. March 14, 2010 at 3:17 am

    FireFox browser is better
    Thank you

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