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Firefox Quantum preview: faster and with a new look

Here is Firefox Quantum in preview: Mozilla has doubled the speed of its web browser and wants to double it again in 2018 with a new look

Mozilla has released Firefox Quantum and, even for those who have long gone to Google Chrome, it is worth taking a look at the browser update.

Firefox Quantum speed

The 57 version of the open-source browser is faster, twice as fast as Firefox 52, according to the Speedometer 2.0 benchmark. Mozilla knows that Chrome has gained many consensus with performance, but after months of testing, it can be said that Firefox 57 offers great performances.

firefox quantum

Moreover, Firefox has an important role to play if you are interested in the value of the web as a neutral technological territory: a place free from the control that Apple and Google exert on our phones and the apps we can run. Mozilla's mission to keep the web open and competitive and Firefox the way Mozilla works to equip the web with new technologies like easier payments, virtual reality and fast games based on WebAssembly.

"Their mission is good and keeps the pressure high to keep the web open", said theGartner analyst, David Smith and recommended web surfers to use "multiple modern browsers".

Firefox Quantum for Web freedom

Mozilla has literally undermined the domain of Microsoft Internet Explorer when it launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004, but since that triumph, its fortunes have quickly vanished. Google Chrome is now the most used browser, and Mozilla has been largely marginalized when it comes to phones and tablets. Firefox Quantum, a complete browser revision that took more than a year to complete, an attempt to start over.

"We stood up and in some cases we found ourselves in front of Chrome"said Mark Mayo, Mozilla's senior vice president of Firefox. "This year we doubled Firefox's performance and the provisional goal of doubling it again in 2018," he said.

Firefox Quantum: is it worth changing?

Although Mozilla offers the required increase in speed, success will not be easy because it is difficult to convince people to change browsers. Firefox accounts for 6% of browser use today, compared to 55% for Chrome and 15% for Apple's Safari. Narrowing it down only to personal computers, which is Mozilla's main goal with upgrading to Quantum, Firefox has 13%, compared to 64% for Chrome.

But Mozilla has some reasons to be optimistic. The use of Firefox Developer Edition, aimed at web programmers, more than doubled after it was updated to Firefox 57 in September. The use of Firefox Nightly, a less stable trial version, almost tripled in a semester.

"The biggest leap in the ever-increasing sentiment since I've been here," said Mayo, who has been with Mozilla for half a decade. This could translate into better market share, he said, although probably not in a few months.

Mozilla says the improvements over the past year have disrupted defections in favor of other browsers, with around 100 million users using Firefox every day. What remains to be seen is whether Mozilla can transform its new performance into more users and therefore into a stronger impulse to pursue its mission.

The new software inserted inFirefox Quantum

The key to Firefox 57 improvements is a project called Quantum that updates almost everything the browser does when it interprets the website code and shows the resulting pixels on the screen. Quantum, on the basis of which obviously Firefox Quantum is founded, has actually provided some improvements during the summer and another big part, called WebRender or Quantum Render, should arrive at the beginning of 2018.

It was risky to change so much of the Firefox software, and Mayo says relieved that the review was done without problems.

"All the major changes we wanted to make were a success … almost certainly the biggest redesign ever made in software engineering," said Mayo referring to the review. "Seventy-five percent of the code base had to be handled. Almost 5 million lines of code have been rewritten ".

The new look of Firefox Quantum

For general users, the result is a faster browser that responds, loads sites faster and shows off a new look. The Photon project wipes out the previous Firefox tabs and replaces them with simple rectangle tabs that, while not as distinctive, are not quicker to manage. Photon also brings a new menu of "actions on the page" in the address bar and deletes the previously separated box to start web searches.

Furthermore, three years after a five-year agreement to use Yahoo's search engine by default in the United States while searching from Firefox, the non-profit organization said it returned to Google in the United States and in Canada.

Mozilla ended the default use of the Yahoo search engine, although it claims to believe that there are other possibilities to work with Verizon, which acquired Yahoo in June. "We have exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo based on a number of factors, including to do the best for our brand, for our effort to provide quality web search and to provide a content experience. wider for our users ", said Denelle Dixon in an official statement.

With the new design there is also a simplified logo with richer colors, a new tool to capture screenshots and share them on the web and integration with the pocket bookmarking service that Mozilla uses to recommend sites that could be of interest.

Firefox Quantum changes the reference framework

If you customize Firefox with many extensions, you may encounter problems. Firefox Quantum leaves the pioneering additional framework that Mozilla introduced 13 years ago in favor of one based on extension technology Chrome. Most of the 100 best extensions will be updated, but some people will miss others, said Mayo.

"There are some people's workflows that are going to stop working, which is always extremely painful.", he has declared.

The new Firefox Quantum also lays the technological basis for new improvements. The Quantum Render project should arrive in Firefox 59, which just entered into testing through the Nightly channel. Quantum Render, like the Quantum CSS project (aka Stylo) arrived in Firefox 57, draws from Mozilla's experimental project called Servo.

The new Firefox architecture cancels bottlenecks so Mozilla can do things like load parts of the websites you want first, and advertisements come at a lower priority, argued Mayo.

The future of Fire Quantum

There are also a lot of small speed increases, such as storing programming instructions JavaScript in a smarter way, so to load Facebook a tenth of a second faster.

"What we have shown that it is not necessary to be one of the Five Scary", Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, "to build software and people love this aspect and want to believe in it", said Mayo. "At some level, everyone likes the David against Goliath, the little boy, against the big guy."