Firefox 3.5 – Speed and Privacy

Mozilla Foundation has released Firefox 3.5, the latest edition of its open source browser, one year after its release of Firefox 3. The update went through four betas, incorporating JavaScript fine-tuning and other improvements, resulting in the fastest version yet, according to Mozilla.firefox
Firefox 3.5 is twice as fast as Firefox 3, but from the user perspective, the change may be barely perceptible. New privacy controls may draw more interest. There’s the completely private mode, which doesn’t store any surfing history, and there’s the forget-this-site feature, which obliterates all traces of any given site. Another option gets rid of browsing history for the past few hours.
Considering statistics from May 2009 (Wikipedia) , IE still stands at a whopping 65.50%, with Firefox in second place, at 22.51%, in terms of browser usage. Interestingly, w3schools ( rates Firefox as having a higher percentage (47.7%), with all versions of IE totaling to around 42%.
The Question –  how do you feel FF3.5 will contribute towards upsetting these pie slices. Does faster, more private imply another hefty piece on the plate for firefox? Or will some other stakeholder benefit from the lack of ‘difference’ between the two versions (firefox 3.0, and 3.5).
Reference Links:


  • Wes Ransom, S.C.

    They are adopting some of Google Chrome’s options. Smart on their part.


    The installed base for IE is irrelevant.
    I suspect actual usage is way lower.
    Firefox is a far superior browser, with
    or without the latest upgrade.

  • Al Macintyre

    I do not believe people switch browsers because of speed.
    We switch because of a combination of getting royally annoyed with some aspect of our old browser, and then liking some features of a possible replacement. Ease of learning how to navigate, when we are new to a browser is also a major reason why we might stick with the replacement browser.
    For some people, there is also the appeal of what open source means, and some level of confidence that the model can succeed.
    We find out about alternative browsers through a variety of means, which include word of mouth, but I think articles in the computer trade press play a major role.

  • Leonid Lastovkin

    Mozilla 3.5 was spoon-fed by Chrome. I am not that impressed; I actually prefer Chrome for now.

  • Randall Goya

    The w3schools stats are for visitors to that site, so it’s not surprising that there is a larger % of Firefox users on a web tech site than in the general public.
    I develop for Firefox then retrofit for IE (8, 7, and yes- 6) check in Safari and Opera – if necessary Konqueror and some of the lesser browsers.
    Firefox will continue to make incremental gains, but as long as IE is the default browser for the Windows OS, it will remain at a large proportion of users. Many do not know how or care to add an additional browser, many are also on systems at work with security that prevents installation of “unauthorized” programs.

  • Cole Brand

    The question could be “Do you think that the Firefox 3.5 release will cause a division in the types of Firefox users, thus allowing some other player to recoup a higher market share?” Or at least, that’s how I read it the first time.
    The new frontend features (privacy, UI) of FX3.5 are nice, but the main thing is the backend improvements (faster JS, less memory, more stable). For all of these reasons, people will naturally move from 3.0 to 3.5 over time, just the same as most users transitioned from 2.x to 3.0 over a period of time.
    Then again, so long as users are using a vertical product segment (meaning, versions 2.x, 3.x, etc), then they are usually lumped together without regard for versioning. As an instance, consider IE. I support users who still have IE5 installed, side-by-side with installations of IE8.
    Then there are situations like mine, I have two different browsers currently installed on my active Windows session, not to mention the two browsers installed on my Linux installation (all on one computer). This is something nobody seems to notice. Having multiple browsers on one computer generally ensures that each will get some use, but the question is how much use does each get.
    So from the standpoint of your question: Will FX3.5 cause Mozilla to gain more market share or will it cause there to be a division of FX shares on the browser market, I say it will cause Firefox to gain market share. If for no other reason than people can install both browsers side by side. which leads us back into the other side of the question: Will FX see more usage because of the new features?
    The answer to that question is: Not directly. It’s more about “who can advertise the features best *and* first”. IE8 has almost verbatim the same list of features of more privacy, more secure browsing, easier to eradicate-my-trails-click-here-features. The JS engine has been tweaked a lot, the site has a lot of anti-phishing measures, and add-ons to IE (which have been there for QUITE some time) are starting to get touted.
    So the real question is: Who can advertise themselves to be the best?
    To recap:
    Most power-users have two browsers installed, no statistics can account for this.
    Both browsers are relatively equal, but one has a fanatical userbase, and the other is “just there” for most (who want it to “just work”).
    The populace has no clue what this is all about (just ask random strangers on the street).
    Product versioning does not divide a vertical count of users.

  • Bryan C Webb, P. Eng.

    Speed was not and is not my main concern. I have both but rarely use IE unless forced to by some inconsiderate organization.
    Give me stability and security first!

  • Nilanjan Dutta

    I tried to install 3.5 release version and somehow browser did not run…So, I have to revert back to 3.0.11…. I have tried to run in Safe mode, but even that does not work… I do not see any error message either…
    I have windows Vista Home Premium version running on Core2 Duo Processor with 3 GB RAM

  • Jeff Williams

    I’ve been using Google Chrome. I’d like to see the usage rates. IE is on every Windows system but that doesn’t mean it is being used.

  • Dennis Mayr

    Ironically, the LinkedIn Companion extension is not supported.

  • Heidi Titchenal

    Most of my clients make the switch from IE when they are annoyed with repeated errors on a page. Usually it is a web based form or report and they get really frustrated or fed up. I tell them to try a different browser until I can get there and check for spyware and disable weird add-ons. Once they’ve switched to Firefox I don’t usually see them on IE again.

  • Ram Krishnaswamy

    I have been a predominantly Open Source guy since 2000 (Java developer since 1995 and all that). Was also into MS technologies for over a decade before that.
    So, it is not a surprise that I fire up Firefox as my default browser. One day I set aside my prejudiced aversion to IE and checked out the memory footprints of these 2 browsers in Windows Task Manager on my Win XP. Surprise!!!
    IE is frugal and starts off with around 40M. Add tabs and it continues to remains frugal.
    Firefox starts off by hogging memory into the high sub-100M level. Add tabs and it keeps hogging memory.
    Do others too see this? I’m not so sure about my total firefox only focus now. We must learn to separate our pet prejudices about Bill and M$ (much of this is borrowed since we were not born hating Bill, right?) and our comparison of competing products – where one from MS of course.
    I continue to be a OSS guy nevertheless as there are clear advantages for me!

  • Judy Parker

    Mozilla still fastest browser. you can easily install add-one in it.

  • Richard Cotton

    I switched to it from Safari – definitely faster and I like the security which is much better then I have been used to

  • Faraz Muhammad, Nisar

    Don’t most applications (not browsers) trying to connect from windows actually use the IE as a base?
    I mean, that is the default config for windows own programs (Windows Update, Messenger – Live and MSN, even Outlook uses some of the IE codebase).
    So it is hard to quantify when the browser is connecting and when the app is connecting.
    Maybe they need to look closer at those stats and make these differences as well!

Leave a Reply