Longtime Readers (TM) know that I’ve been writing about Mozilla and their browsers here at Just Well Mixed for pretty much as long as Just Well Mixed has existed. Heck, I’ve been writing about them since before Firefox existed. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this week saw a major milestone in that story: the release of Firefox 4.0.
There’s lots of reasons to be excited about this release, but the biggest one is simple: speed. Firefox 3 was a great browser, but it could be kind of pokey, especially when compared to the newest competitor on the block, Google Chrome. The good news is that Mozilla took that as a challenge — and by rolling in a whole bunch of performance improvements, they’ve made Firefox 4 super snappy. If you don’t believe me, download it and try it yourself; you will feel the speed difference from Firefox 3 immediately.
Other improvements: a ton of exciting work on the user-interface front makes Firefox 4 the easiest-to-use browser you can get. Firefox Sync lets you access your Firefox bookmarks, favorites and open tabs from your mobile phone. FF4’s new HTML5/CSS3 features open up exciting new possibilities for Web designers — just take a look at some of Mozilla’s demos to see what I mean. And the new Tab Groups feature (aka “Firefox Panorama”) makes working with multiple tabs in Firefox easier than it is in any other browser on the market. Watch this video to see what I mean:
It’s really an exciting release — maybe the most exciting Firefox since Firefox 1.0. So you really do owe it to yourself to check it out. For most people, this will involve downloading it from Mozilla. If you’re an Ubuntu user like me and prefer to get your Firefox from the repositories, you might be worried that you’re stuck waiting for the next Ubuntu release (11.04, “Natty Narwhal”) in order to get your Firefox 4 on — but don’t fret! Ubuntu’s Firefox maintainers have put together a PPA you can use to upgrade to Firefox 4 today, complete with all the nice stuff they do to make Firefox look great in Ubuntu and GNOME. I used it to update my Ubuntu 10.10 desktop to FF4 with no problems whatsoever.
So — congratulations to the team at Mozilla for getting FF4 out the door! It’s a big step forward for the open Web.