Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

Download Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
4.3
out of 15581 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    4.0.1
  • Total Downloads:
    46,136,258
  • Date Added:
    Apr. 28, 2011
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    37.79MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    61,703
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:
    #1 in Web Browsers

Editors' Review

+

Editors' note: Mozilla released version 5 of Firefox on June 21, 2011. The updates are incremental and largely invisible to users. As such, most of this review is taken from our original Firefox 4 review (as is the video, which is still applicable). As we continue to test and use Firefox 5, we will update the review with any new information.

The bottom line: Firefox 5 is a worthy expression of Mozilla's ideals. The browser is competitively fast, sports a new minimalist look, and includes some excellently executed features. Unfortunately, that describes most of Firefox's competition, too.

Review:
Firefox 5 had a rough time in its early development, but those days are over. The browser that you can download now is in the same speed category as its competition; offers many similar features (stronger in many areas and slightly weaker in others); includes broad, cross-platform support for hardware acceleration and other "future-Web" tech and standards; and is a must-have for Android users.

Installation
Installing Firefox 5 was a fine, quick experience. Beta users, who toiled for 10 months using betas of varying stability and quality, might be disappointed that Firefox 5 doesn't clean up the beta detritus left behind. That's the cost of using a beta, though.

Firefox 5 does not include automatic updating the way that Opera and Chrome do, although checking out the About option under Help in the menu will automatically start updates downloading, and then ask you to apply them. Firefox 5 has gotten significantly faster at restarting, and the process that used to take several minutes this time took less than a minute on our test computers. Note that this is for updates after you've already installed Firefox 5. Updating from version 3.6 to version 4 is likely to take several minutes, because of the significant code changes that have been made.

Careful Firefox observers will notice that the browser no longer ships with a separate icon for Safe Mode. Simply hold down Shift; when you click on the Firefox icon to open a box you will be allowed to customize which settings carry over to Safe Mode.

Firefox automatically installs a Windows 7 taskbar icon if you choose it as your default browser. Uninstalling the browser does not leave behind any icons or folders if you choose to remove your settings at the same time.

Interface
If you're a big Firefox fan, you'd better hope that you're either not very attached to the version 3.6 look or you're extremely taken by the new design. Firefox 5's main interface is completely different from what's come before, retaining only the larger back button that debuted in version 3. Not surprisingly, the new design also brings the browser significantly closer to the minimalist style first adopted by Google Chrome in 2008, although it looks most similar to Opera 11.

The menu bar has been squished into an orange button on the upper left, with menu options spread across two columns. Nearly all the submenus have been redesigned as well, although the hot keys remain the same, so the learning curve isn't particularly steep. In fact, the menu redesign makes it much easier to get to bookmarks, add-ons, and history, as they now all live on one menu pane. The menu button is not available to Mac users.

Besides the major changes to the menu, smaller changes have greatly improved usability. For example, there's now a Get Bookmark Add-ons link in the Bookmarks submenu. The History submenu now has Recently Closed Tabs and Recently Closed Windows sections.

Tabs are now on top by default, and while the forward and back navigation buttons haven't moved, the stop and refresh buttons are now attached to the right side of the location bar, next to the bookmark star. When you're typing a URL, the "Go" button appears in green. While resolving a URL, the box changes from the "Go" arrow to an "X" for the new Stop button, and the green changes to red. The visual cues are minor but help to highlight their new location in the interface. Returning the Stop and Refresh buttons to their Firefox 3.6 locations can be done via the Customize option. What little color remained in the default interface, mostly the green Back button, has been leeched out for a muted gray. You can customize the Firefox skin with the restartless Personas add-ons, added in Firefox 3.6.

Right of the location bar lives the traditional search box, with its drop-down list of search engines. Above that on the tab bar there is a new button that lists all your open tabs, and you can add a button to access the Tab Groups feature. For some reason, the final version of Firefox 5 doesn't ship with the button by default, although the betas often did. You can add the button by right-clicking on the interface and choosing Customize, then dragging and dropping the Tab Groups icon next to the List All Tabs button. We don't consider many customizations to be essential, but this one is.

The Status bar that lives at the bottom of the interface is now hidden by default, again in keeping with the minimalist philosophy and the competition. There's a new Add-on bar as well, also hidden by default, to which extension icons can be added if you want to keep add-on icons easily available but out of the way of the main interface.

One of Firefox's singular strengths is its capacity for customization, which remains unparalleled, and is accessible even to novice users. While the competition does offer add-ons and extensions, Firefox remains far ahead of all of them in interface customization.

Features and support
Firefox 5's features are robust and generally competitive. There is some minor functionality missing in a few cases where the browser remains behind the competition, but Firefox is generally one of the most progressive major browsers available, an early adopter if not always an innovator.

The most important new feature in Firefox 5 is Sync. As with many recent Firefox features, it started off as a rough add-on, and often deleted data. If you were scared off by its early bad behavior, you'll be glad to know that Mozilla has worked out the kinks: Sync now smoothly syncs your Bookmarks, Passwords, Preferences, History, and Tabs not only with other computers, but also with your Android version of Firefox.

To use it, click on the Menu button and choose Set Up Sync from the left column. That will take you to a window where you can connect an existing Firefox Sync account or create a new one. Within Firefox Sync, there are two important security points. One is that Firefox encrypts your data before sending it over an encrypted connection to its servers, where it remains encrypted. Mozilla says that the company would not be able to access it even if somebody there wanted to. The second is that you have the option of setting up your own personal sync server. In an age when private data stored by corporations gets hacked and stolen with shocking regularity, setting up a personal sync server is one way to ensure that you bear the responsibility for your own data.

Another big feature in Firefox 5 is support for restartless add-ons. These add-ons are written differently from standard Firefox add-ons, and are expected to become the format for add-ons in the future. As such, not many restartless add-ons exist--only about 115 at the time of writing this review, compared with the thousands of "standard" add-ons. This will continue to pose a big problem for Mozilla, as older add-ons become a bottleneck for Firefox that other browsers, with their newer add-on frameworks, don't have to manage.

Firefox 5's add-on manager has been completely overhauled, and now includes support for the aforementioned restartless add-ons. There's a lot of useful new technology here, as compared with the version 3.6 add-on manager. Not only can you search for add-ons from within the add-on window using the search box in the upper right corner, you can add them without having to jump to the external Mozilla Add-on Web site, also known as AMO. The manager calls out the AMO add-on collections, which you can create more explicitly in the Get Add-ons tab. The add-on manager also allows you to browse Personas, the restartless Firefox themes. It's slightly annoying that clicking on an add-on group or collection opens the page in a new browser window, whereas clicking on a specific add-on opens that add-on's download page within the add-on manager. That's a very minor criticism, though.

Other changes to the add-on manager include forward and back buttons specific to the manager, in the upper left corner, and left-side navigation tabs for specifically focusing on Extensions, Appearance, and Plug-ins. Meanwhile, two little improvements to the manager will impress keyboard junkies. There's a new hot key for pulling up the add-on manager, Control-Shift-A, and you can type about:addons directly into the location bar to access the add-ons manager in a tab.

The tab-grouping feature seems to be suffering a bit of an identity crisis, though its functionality is untouched. Originally called Tab Candy, then renamed Panorama, and now known as Tab Groups, it presents your tabs as an array of thumbnail images. The thumbnails reside in rectangular boxes that constitute a group. Tabs can be dragged from one group to another, and groups can be named and moved as well. You can add a tab to an existing group or create a new group by right-clicking on the tab and choosing Move to Group. The hot-key combo Control-Shift-E will also jump between the main interface and the Tab Group window.

The overall idea is to make it easier to switch from one tab to another, to group or regroup related tabs, and to get a global view of what's going on with your tabs. It's potentially a big improvement in browser usage, compared with aiming a mouse at an ever-skinnier tab, cycling through a list with alt-tab keystrokes, or pecking at a drop-down menu to reach the tabs that overflowed off the deep.

The bookmarks and history menus have been redesigned, and now the hot keys open them by default as sidebars. Go through the Menu button to get the full menus. We were actually quite impressed with the layout of the menu button options for bookmarks and history, finding it much more useful with quick access to recently closed tabs and new bookmark tags. This is probably the most useful in-browser bookmark manager around, especially if you enable Sync and use it with your Android phone or tablet.

Firefox 5 supports App Tabs, which reduces the width of a tab to its favicon and pins the tab permanently on the left. The tab will glow when updated, a useful indicator for things like Web mail. And when you start typing into the location bar, one of the search choices will be related open tabs so that you can quickly switch to an existing tab.

Under the hood there are TONS of changes. The biggest is full hardware acceleration across all platforms, which means that Firefox draws on your graphics card to speed up complex rendering. You'll see dramatic HTML5 support, including for high-def WebM video, and broad support for the HTML5 canvas, video, audio, geolocation, drag and drop, and form tags. OpenType fonts are supported, as is CSS3 and newer JavaScript values. WebGL and hardware acceleration give the browser a massive boost, which we'll discuss in the Performance section below. The short version of all this is that Firefox 5 is on the cutting edge of the next generation of Web standards, and that benefits you immensely by offering faster rendering times of Web sites that can do more.

There's a decent list of other, smaller changes to Firefox that are worth pointing out because they'll enhance your work flow in the browser. One of these is Switch to Tab. Open a new tab, start typing the name of an already-open tab, and the URL will appear in the drop-down with "Switch to Tab" beneath it. Select that one, and the new tab closes and you're whisked to the preexisting tab. It's a great trick for cutting down on the amount of time it takes to sift through 45 open tabs, and removes the chance of having the same tab accidentally open twice, or more.

The location bar, or as Mozilla calls it, the Awesome Bar, retains the features introduced in Firefox 3.5, such as the options to search your history and bookmarks and to tap your default search engine to provide you with quick results. However, the "feeling lucky" instant jump to what it thinks is the Web site you're most likely to be looking for has been disabled because of internal Mozilla concerns about accidentally sending personal information to the search provider.

Private browsing reflects the browser's faster start-up and shutdown times so that it jumps between standard browsing and Private Browsing mode significantly faster than in version 3.6.

The new Do Not Track feature indicates via a header notification that you want to opt out of targeted advertisements. However, it requires that the Web site you're viewing, and therefore that site's developers, respect the header itself. While this is great for future-proofing the Web, as implemented at the time of writing, not many Web sites have taken notice of it. While that doesn't mean it won't eventually have a big impact, that time is not now, and it's better to install an add-on like AdBlock Plus to get more complete ad-tracking protection.

There are two smaller yet important changes to the way that Firefox protects you. One is the implementation of the Content Security Policy, which is designed to block one of the most common types of browser threats, cross-site scripting attacks, by allowing sites to tell the browser which content is legitimate. Though CSP also places the burden on the site developers, it's backward-compatible and aimed mostly at well-known sites hosting immense volumes of data and content.

Another security improvement is the implementation of HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). This prevents your log-in information from being intercepted by telling Firefox to automatically create a secure connection to a site's servers.

The new feature set alone makes it worth upgrading to the latest version of Firefox. While some older Firefox users may feel that these features add unnecessary bloat to a browser that offers add-ons specifically so that you can customize your browsing experience, Firefox 5 is actually dramatically faster than Firefox 3.6. We address the browser's behavior in the section below.

Performance
As mentioned earlier, Firefox 5's performance has been greatly improved by the addition of graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware acceleration. It allows the browser to shove certain rendering tasks onto the computer's graphics card, freeing up CPU resources while making page rendering and animations load faster. These tasks include composition support, rendering support, and desktop compositing.

JavaScript plays a major role in the Web, and Firefox 5's new JaegerMonkey engine combined with the GPU acceleration gives the browser some serious juice. We'll update this section with CNET's performance benchmarks as they become available, although initial results show Firefox 5 testing competitively against other browsers. Mozilla's own JavaScript benchmarks show the browser running 3.5 times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on the Mozilla Kraken benchmark, three times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on the WebKit SunSpider benchmark, and six times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on Google's V8 benchmark.

One interesting publicly available benchmark is the new JSGameBench from Facebook, which looks to test HTML5 in real-world gaming situations. The Firefox 5 beta was the fastest tested without WebGL, and was the second fastest with it.

Note that to effectively use hardware acceleration, you must make sure that your graphics card drivers are up-to-date.

Browser benchmarks are a notoriously fidgety lot, and often come up against legitimate complaints that they look at too narrow a set of features--such as checking only JavaScript rendering times. In hands-on use, at least, Firefox 5 can more than hold its own. It's not clear that it's enough to counter the past two years of Chrome decisively winning the fastest-browser PR campaign, but that may no longer be the point. All five major browsers are now similarly fast at JavaScript tests, and you may start looking at other criteria to determine which browser is best for you.

In hands-on experiences, one of the best performance differences between Firefox 3.6 and the current version is that Firefox 5 crashes far, far less. That's due in no small part to improvements made to the plug-in crash protection, which prevents plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime, and Microsoft Silverlight from dropping the browser dead. If one of them crashes, simply reload the page.

Conclusion
Definitely a worthy heir to the Firefox name, Firefox 5's one drawback is that, like its competitors, it uses massive amounts of RAM. Don't expect that to change as the browser is relied upon to perform more and more tasks that once occurred in other programs. It will also be less of a problem as hardware improves.

Firefox 5 faces a challenging field of competition. Some people have probably abandoned the browser for the significant speed differences between version 3.6 and Google Chrome. However, the competition has forced Mozilla and others to put out better browsers in order to thrive. Firefox 5 is arguably the best browser on the market today.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    3.2

    out of 235 votes

    • 5 star 54
    • 4 star 74
    • 3 star 26
    • 2 star 24
    • 1 star 57
  • All Versions

    4.3

    out of 15581 votes

    • 5 star 10309
    • 4 star 2424
    • 3 star 985
    • 2 star 651
    • 1 star 1212
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 235

1 stars

"Pop-up blocker stinks"

June 18, 2011  |  By cfwilliamson

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

I have used this firefox for a long time and until now was happy with it.

Cons

This last version does not work well with my Windows 7 64-bit and that is frustrating.

Summary

The pop-up blocker really stinks with this version and you either have to turn pop-up blocker completely OFF in order to be able to open up things in a separate window, or turn pop-up blocker ON and not be able to open up anything. Even in the settings where they tell you to put in the web address to allow pop-ups does not work....you still can't get things to open up. I'm going back to Windows IE.

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5 stars

"I love me some FireFox!"

June 18, 2011  |  By larryhuey

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Nice! I feel like part of a solution not a beneficiary of a problem. Firefox is smooth, easy to use and customize, nothing else compares overall.

Cons

Give the addons time to catch up! I hate it when my favorite add ons stop working and I either have to wait or find something else - same for Thunderbird!!! Add-ons are one of the main reasons I like Firefox, work with your suppliers!

Summary

IE is the benchmark.... Firefox has passed the benchmark scores in everyway and is the standard for now. Don't look back though, Chrome is coming up fast! Stick to your core values make improvements more seamless; vis a vis add ons.

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1 stars

"Significantly Flawed"

June 18, 2011  |  By Virginia1001

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Marginal interface improvement over version 3 with a little more flexibility to custom configure the browser interface

Cons

Version 4 has handles SSL connection set up with secure sites extremely poorly and frequently fails to establish a connection after the session times out or connection is reset.

Summary

In simultaneous tests using IE 8 and 9 alongside Firefox 4.0, IE immediately establishes a connection and I'm able to access secure banking sites. Meanwhile, Firefox either fails to establish a connection or takes over 60 seconds, after which the session attempt times out. Something is seriously wrong with version 4 implementation of SSL.

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4 stars

"good browser, better by far than Explorer"

June 17, 2011  |  By DCK1950

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Easy to use and fun to customize

Cons

I prefer Chrome on my netbook but it's bookmarks are impossible

Summary

Best browser for most people.

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1 stars

"Never worked, even after 4 uninstall and re-installs"

June 16, 2011  |  By flash927

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Reputation

Cons

Firefox was never stabile, even after repeated unistalls and installs

Summary

Installed Firefox 4.0 on new HP Envy 17 running Windows 7 Home Premium addition. Each time Firefox looked more like firefly, the screens would flicker wildly and no matter what web sites I loaded.

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4 stars

"Vastly Improved!"

June 16, 2011  |  By Dave9mm

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Much better than earlier versions. I like the "save password" prompt. Much better upload speed than older versions.

Cons

The only bad feature I can think of (compared to Chrome) is the lack of "auto load". You have to type your user name and password every time, every site.

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2 stars

"Not what I'm used to seeing in Firefox"

June 16, 2011  |  By ycur

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

1. The browser was relatively fast, both at the time it took for the program to open and with page rendering speed.
2. Being able to customize to the nth degree is this browser's greatest strength, and is my primary reason for using Firefox.

Cons

1. In Windows 7 the browser crashed quite often.
2. Firefox browser and extension icons occasionally move or disappear from the toolbars. They will not stay seated to their assigned spots.
3. Some of my favorite extensions have yet to be updated.

Summary

Since the release of Firefox 4 I have refrained from writing a review until I could really look this browser version over carefully. Now that I have done that I can honestly say I have mixed feelings. On Windows 7 I had version 4.0.1 crash on me numerous times. Firefox has, for the most part, run very stable for me over the years, but this release is proving to be quite different from its predecessors. In short, it's a damn nightmare! Not only does it crash often but icons on the toolbar won't stay put. The instability was so bad I uninstalled v. 4.0.1 and went back to v. 3.6.17. While it's not as fast it is certainly far more stable. Hopefully version 5 rectifies these issues. While i realize extensions are made by third party developers and that their failure to upgrade some to work with the new browser is no fault of Mozilla, it does however detract from the overall user experience.
Firefox 4.0.1 on Linux is a whole different story, and has proved to be very stable. Outside of one easily rectified hangup that I encountered when I was installing SpeedDial, a Firefox extension, the browser has run rock solid stable. That is stable with the right setup. Even on Linux I was restricted to housing the icons of my 60 or so extensions to the menu bar, the navigation bar, or the extension All-in-One Sidebar. I could not go to Customize Toolbars and add a new toolbar for anything I would add would promptly disappear when I would close down the browser window.
Even when using Linux it is clear to me this version of Firefox has stability issues. While I could work around them on Linux I couldn't on Windows 7. It is my sincerest hope the folks at Mozilla work out the wrinkles for version 5, due to be released June 21, 2011. I saw the bug fix list and it's VERY LONG. Who knows, maybe v. 5 will be what we all thought v. 4 would be?

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1 stars

"Look who got passed up in downloads this week by Google"

June 14, 2011  |  By desertdan1

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

I would love to post some pro's I am an old Firefox fan but since 3.6 there are no PROS !

Cons

Slow still memory hog, freezes and crashes.

Summary

Evidently with all the bad marks they are getting here and on facebook they do not care about what the users have to say! I keep going back and trying it I'm just a gluten for punishment I guess.

Updated on Jun 20, 2011

UPDATE: Dump Firefox 4 and anything to do with it! Have new 5.0 Beta and it works great, better than 3.6 did! I really thought Firefox was going to self destruct with 4.0 Firedud!

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5 stars

"the first level one"

June 14, 2011  |  By usfownsucf33

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

I have use it for many years. A good bower. I like it.

Cons

I hope it will be better for next version

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5 stars

"Firefox is the best!"

June 13, 2011  |  By richardketcham

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1

Pros

Firefox has faithfully served my browsing needs for years. It keeps current with updated security and new technological developments and remains the premier browser!

Cons

No apparent cons.

Summary

Firefox is the best!

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Results 1–10 of 235

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 4.0.1
Firefox 4.0.1 fixes several security issues and several stability issues.
General
Publisher Mozilla
Publisher web site http://www.mozilla.org/
Release Date April 28, 2011
Date Added April 28, 2011
Version 4.0.1
Category
Category Browsers
Subcategory Web Browsers
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows 2003, Windows, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 7
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 37.79MB
File Name Firefox Setup 34.0.5.exe
Popularity
Total Downloads 46,136,258
Downloads Last Week 61,703
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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