Firefox 3.6 is Here

By  |  Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Today, Mozilla released Firefox 3.6, a new version of the world’s most popular alternative browser. (Come to think of it, though, the concept of “alternative browser” is stale–for one thing, on many sites, including Technologizer, Firefox is the most popular browser.)

On the grand continuum from inconsequential bug fix to massive upgrade, Firefox 3.6 isn’t a biggie. But it could be very worthwhile: Mozilla is claiming a 20 percent speed increase (including faster startup and JavaScript improvements) and more stability. I haven’t played with 3.6 enough to form my own conclusions other than “so far, so good,” but just about the only things I don’t like about Firefox are that it feels slow to load, sometimes seems to bog down, and freezes and/or crashes more than it should.  A smoother-running Firefox could get me back on that browser more or less full time.

(At the moment, I use Firefox maybe 25 percent of the time–but I’m more likely to use Chrome on Windows, and Safari on OS X.)

Other improvements in 3.6 include the integration of Personas, a nice one-click system for applying skins to the browser; a new plug-in system that detects outdated plug-ins and helps you install updated versions, and improved form autocomplete features.

There’s also stuff that–for now–is mostly of interest to developers and those who love bleeding-edge Web technologies, including enhancements to HTML5 video and embedded fonts. But while Mozilla says that Firefox has the world’s best support for HTML5, that boast is only true on a theoretical level: Both YouTube and Vimeo have started offering HTML5 video in the past 24 hours, but their players don’t work in Firefox, because it only supports video in Ogg Vorbis Theora format, and they only provide video in H.264 format. (Which means that HTML5 video won’t mean a whole heck of a lot for most people until all browser makers and video sites agree on a standard.)

For now, Firefox users need to seek out 3.6 and install it; Mozilla told me that at some point, earlier versions of the browser will ask you if you’d like to get it. It’s a major enough upgrade that past versions won’t auto-install it without your explicit permission.

Should you get Firefox 3.6? Yes, if you’re a Firefox fan–once you’ve verified that your favorite plug-ins are available for it. And if you’re an ex-Firefox user who’s drifted off to another browser over speed or stability issues, it’s also worth a look. If you take it for a spin, I’d love to know what you think. You don’t need a download link, but here it is just in case.



9 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave S Says:

    Firefox has been my full-time browser for years. But with 3.6, they’ve disabled Java 1.5 support. Refuses to run the app until you upgrade to 1.6.

    We have business apps that don’t work under Java 1.6. So it’s back to IE for me (which I don’t like at all).

  2. William Blake Says:

    Harry: Your content output is astonishing sometimes, like today.

    I installed Firefox 3.6 on my recently rebuilt PC today and I noticed fonts on websites were not to my liking. They were awful. So I changed them. I’ll need more time to review the whole product. Seems fine so far, other than the fonts.

    Regarding your AT&T on iPhone issues, I recommend Verizon in the San Francisco area. Even MetroPCS works more consistently than AT&T voice and data there, especially since AT&T’s networks have had to support all the new iPhones and other data users. They know they need to upgrade their systems in many metro areas if they are to support the future.

  3. Matthew Says:

    Firefox, even version 3.6, still loads slower than any other browser on my computer. I was very disappointed that they did not include any Windows 7 integration such as jumplists and tab previews. Suppose that’s slated for 3.7/4. Mozilla needs to get Firefox updates and improvements out as quick as possible or they’re going to keep bleeding users to Chrome.

  4. ashish Says:

    I am using firefox only for online banking and have not used any add-ons for the sake of security. This newer version does seem to run faster than pervious version but I will continue to use chrome for general browsing. By the way, Why can’t we switch browser in order to support the HTML5 which will get us rid of resource hogging flash player.

  5. daemonios Says:

    @Dave S

    Just a suggestion: have you tried Chrome? I haven’t had any trouble at all with it (it’s been my only browser for months, after finally dropping Opera).

  6. Radu Says:

    I use Chrome 75% of the time, followed by Mozilla 20% and IE 5% (for e-banking). I am very satisfied with Chrome’s loading time and how easy it is everything while browsing. I installed the 3.6 today and I can feel a difference speed-wise. It’s still not as fast as Chrome, for me at least, but I think they made an important step towards that point. On 3.5 some of the new tabs were taking ages to open, not to mention when saving and restoring a session of 5-6 tabs.

  7. Paul Says:

    Its safe.
    Its super fast.
    Its beautiful with personas (themes)
    Its stable.
    Its free.
    Its platform independent.

    Its awesome!!!!

  8. Michael Says:

    It now has the same tab behaviour as IE7 and IE8, where any links opened in tabs open appear right after the current tab, instead of after the last tab in that window.

    I like it, for consistencies sake, but it will still take a little while to get used to…

  9. Zatz Says:

    If you don’t like the new tab placement immediately after an open tab, I’ve got the “fix” here:

    Basically, hit about:config, filter by ‘tab’, and toggle browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent from true to falce.