In 2004, Internet Explorer (IE) 6 was already a security nightmare but since Microsoft has stomped all over Netscape and alternative browsers like Mozilla, now SeaMonkey, and Opera had little traction, Windows users pretty much stayed with IE… until Firefox appeared. It was a breath of fresh air. IE users concerned with security and open-source fans quickly flocked to the new Web browser, and over time others followed. But, in the last few years, Firefox lost some of its luster. Can Firefox 4 restore it?
Now that Firefox 4 has been released a day early, albeit after months of delays, I asked myself if Firefox 4 really was, not just better than the Firefox 3.6.x series, but it’s more serious competitors: IE9 and Chrome 10.
To see how it would do I’ve been running the Firefox 4 betas, release candidates, and just now the final, on Windows 7 SP1, Windows XP SP3, and the Mint 10 Linux distribution. For XP and Windows 7, I used a Gateway SX2802-07 desktop. This PC uses a 2.6GHZ Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300 processor and has 6GBs of RAM and a 640GB hard-drive. For my Linux Firefox box, I used a Dell Inspiron 530S powered by a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800-MHz front-side bus. This box has 4GBs of RAM, a 500GB drive. This is what I found.