Four reasons you'll want Firefox 4

Firefox has begun to feel slow and dated. But Firefox 4 may change all that. Here are four reasons you'll want to switch to Firefox 4.

It's faster

Once upon a time Firefox felt fast. But Chrome, Safari, and Opera all display Web pages far more quickly. In this beta Firefox is still slower than those browsers, but it's closed the gap. In my tests, the beta of Firefox 4 showed to be about 30% faster than Firefox 3.6. Given that it's a beta, you should expect that it will become even speedier at launch. It's still slower than Opera, Chrome, and Safari. But Firefox has a massive library of add-ons, that none of those browsers do.

Tabs on top and more browser space

Like Chrome, the tabs are now along the top of the browser (only in Windows Vista and Windows 7 versions). This makes it much easier to see all of your open tabs. The space for Firefox's Awesome Bar and navigation buttons have been reduced. And menus have been done away with as well --- you can get to the features you want by clicking a button instead of using menus.

The effect of all this is to give more space to the Web pages --- and isn't that the point of a browser?

HTML 5 video

Firefox support HTML 5 video, taking advantage of the Google-backed video format called WebM. Even Chrome doesn't do that yet. It's a great way to view high-definition videos, without having to use Flash or other helpers.

Better add-ons manager

Firefox's main strength is the vast collection of add-ons that run on it. Firefox 4 significantly improves it add-ons manager, offering many more details about add-ons, including ratings, a link to the add-ons' home page, and ratings.

If you want more details about the Firefox 4 beta, check out my review for Computerworld.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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