Mozilla finally takes on Chrome with the new Firefox Quantum browser


New Delhi: Google Chrome is the most popular web browser with a market share of 59.84%, while Mozilla’s Firefox browser which has been dazzling users with new projects, experimental browsers and features for many years only accounts for 13.4% of the browser market, according to latest numbers from internet analysts Netmarketshare.

To change this scenario, Mozilla has introduced perhaps the biggest-ever update to its Firefox web browser. It is called Firefox 57 or Firefox Quantum and is finally available for download on Windows, macOS and Linux-based computing devices as well as on iOS and Android smartphones.

At the heart of the updated browser is Project Quantum, which Mozilla claims, makes the browser two times faster than the earlier versions. The project relies on a new browser engine called Servo. It is developed with the assistance of a global community of developers from multiple companies such as Mozilla and Samsung.

It is this engine that allows the browser to take advantage of the device’s hardware with multi-core processes. So if a user opens four tabs, the browser will allocate four different processes to handle the four tabs instead of treating them as a single process, as it did with earlier versions. Earlier, opening too many tabs not only slowed down the browser, but also led to frequent freezes and crashes.

Chrome browser also works on the multi-process model, but relies only on the cores to handle the load. Opening more tabs shoots up memory consumption making it the most resource-intensive browser. Firefox Quantum offers a better solution to it. It allocates all additional tabs to the multiple threads built within the cores. Multi-threading puts less pressure on the system’s resources and allows the browser to handle multiple tasks without any hiccups.

Mozilla has also made changes to improve the outward appearance of the browser. The user interface has been re-designed to reflect under-the-hood improvements. These changes are part of another Mozilla project called Photon. The browser now looks and runs better on higher spec monitors, which have greater pixel density.

In terms of look and feel, it is more minimalist. It replaces rounded tabs with rectangular-shaped tabs and the one which is in use is highlighted with a different colour. It has lots of wide spaces which gives it a cleaner look. The home page shows your top sites, Pocket bookmarking app recommendations and popular topics. The library button clubs shortcuts to Pocket saves, bookmarks, browser screenshots, downloads and browsing history in a single window.

Customising the toolbar is a lot easier now. Users can drag and drop tools they want on the browser toolbar. Users can also capture a screenshot of the entire screen or a segment by clicking the screenshot button. Pocket integration comes with more benefits for users. So now you can not only save articles for offline access, but can also get story recommendations from Pocket based on what is trending on it.

Private browsing, the equivalent of Incognito mode in Chrome, now blocks online trackers and ads with hidden tracker. It can also identify and block ads which slow down browsing speed.

Firefox browser now supports WebVR, which means you can access 360-degree content using a compatible VR headset on the browser.