Mozilla Firefox 4 download release date: Now!

fun with firefox (HandleWithJoy at ipernity)
By Richi Jennings. March 23, 2011, 6am EDT.

Mozilla (finally) releases Firefox 4 for download. It's no longer a beta, so go get it... unless you've permanently switched to Chrome, that is. Why did it take so long to get here? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers make a date with the Web O' Wonder.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention The Piral: "Strangely pleasing to watch"...

Update 2, 6.20pm: add comment from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.
Update 1, 9.20am: add comment from Mark Brown.

Gregg Keizer wears a fine set of new clothes:

Firefox 4 will easily beat Microsoft's claim ... [of] 2.4 million [downloads] of its Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) in the first 24 hours. ... [But] downloads averaged between 5,000 and 6,000 ... per minute, less than half the 12,000-per-minute pace of ... Firefox 3.6 ... [in] January 2010.
When the new browser reached one million downloads, Mozilla developers and employees rang cowbells, cheered, and ... someone dressed in a Firefox mascot costume danced.
Users can download [it] for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Chris Brandrick is entranced by the pretty map:

The Firefox 4 Download Stats site ... at, shows a constantly updating counter of all Firefox 4 downloads. ... As each download is logged ... it is visualised on a map of the earth ... with each glowing dot representing one single download.
In addition to the global map ... [it] serves up download information on a more local level. An additional arc chart module ... (bottom left) ... allows visitors to break down the download data ... going as deep down as ... city-by-city.

Ryan Paul wonders why it took so long:

[It] arrives at a time when the Web is enjoying an unprecedented level of competition and a rapid pace of evolution. ... [But] Mozilla ... fell behind competing browser vendors due to the protracted length of its development cycle. ... The last major update, version 3.6, was released in January 2010.
Firefox 4 is another major breakthrough for Mozilla. It ... restores Firefox's competitiveness at a critical moment. ... [It] includes some of the most significant user interface changes in the browser's history. ... The new Gecko 2.0 rendering engine ... offers strong support for the latest standards-based Web technologies. ... Mozilla has delivered a major performance boost ... [including] bringing basic hardware accelerated rendering to Windows XP users.

Mozilla's Dave Mandelin and Joe Drew talk performance:

Firefox 4 gets fast JavaScript from a beast we call JägerMonkey ... a multi-architecture per-method JavaScript JIT compiler with 64-bit NaN-boxing, inline caching, and register allocation. ... More than 3x improvement on SunSpider and Kraken ... benchmarks ... and more than 6x on V8!
We sped up how Firefox draws and composites web pages using the Graphics Processing Unit. ... On Windows Vista and ... 7, all web pages are hardware accelerated using Direct2D. ... On Windows and Mac, Firefox uses ... Direct3D or OpenGL to accelerate the composition of web page elements. This ... is also used to accelerate the display of HTML5 video.

Meanwhile, Mark Brown looks further afield:

Other browser developers haven't been sitting on their hands. Google has responded ... by releasing a beta of Chrome 11. ... [It] uses HTML 5 and voice recognition technology to ... let you control sites with your voice. It also features GPU-accelerated ... CSS.
[The IE9] team, on the other hand, baked a cake.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes sums up his benchmarking:

Out of the four benchmarks, Chrome 10 won two, IE9 32-bit won one and Firefox 4 won one, so ... Chrome 10 is the winner. But in the SunSpider test there is so little separating the four fastest browsers ... you could almost say it is a tie.
IE9 64-bit is shockingly bad, and all the other browsers are, on the whole, pretty evenly matched. ... IE9 32-bit actually aces the SunSpider test, but I expect that over the coming weeks Google will manage to catch up and take the lead once again. ... Microsoft has ... taken it from being the slowest in the pack to one of the fastest.

And Finally...
The Piral: "Strangely pleasing to watch."
Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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