Practical Technology

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Once around the Web with Firefox 4 Beta 1

I want, I really want Firefox to become a top-of-the-line Web browser again. It was Firefox, after all, that broke IE’s (Internet Explorer) strangle-hold on Web browsers. Even Microsoft owes Firefox some gratitude. If Firefox hadn’t pushed Microsoft into making IE into a decent Web browser, many of us might still be stuck with crapware like IE 6. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Firefox 4 is going to get Firefox back into competition with IE 8, much less, what I see as today’s leading Web browser, Google’s Chrome 5.

You see, Firefox has been getting a little long in the tooth. Like other software programs that haven’t aged well, Firefox has accumulated more features, which has led to bloated, slow performance. So the good Firefox developers at Mozilla have decided to give Firefox a facelift.

Firefox’s new interface, which is now only available on Windows 7 or Vista, consists of a single large orange button that gives you access to the rest of the browser’s controls. I’ve used it on one of my test Windows 7 boxes — a Dell Inspiron 530S, with a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor, an 800-MHz front-side bus, 4GBs of RAM, a 500GB SATA (Serial ATA) drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) chip set. It ran quite well on this system. Its speed was comparable to the latest shipping version of Firefox 3.6, and that’s no small feat for beta software. Still, when all was said and done, the interface left me cold.

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