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Elements of Firefox overhaul arrive for testing
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 01 March 2010 18:23

From C/Net News

Mozilla, faced with new competitive pressures, has begun work on three separate, significant changes to Firefox.

First is a new JavaScript engine that--with a transfusion from the project behind Apple's Safari--should run Web-based programs at least 30 percent faster. Second is a new graphics engine for Windows that will take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics and text. And third is a programming tool to help bring to fruition a new system for Firefox add-ons.

Mozilla made notable gains against the dominant Internet Explorer since Firefox's launch five years ago, but for much of that time, Microsoft's browser barely budged. Now Google's Chrome has burst onto the scene, Apple is marketing Safari for Windows as well as Mac OS X, Opera development is moving fast, and, potentially most significantly, Microsoft is showing signs of serious interest in rejuvenating IE.

Firefox could use a shot in the arm, too. Its share of global browser usage crested in November at 24.7 percent, according to Net Applications, and has slid to 24.2 percent according to preliminary statistics for February released Monday. In that same period, Chrome grew from 3.9 percent to 5.6 percent.

Mozilla has made several significant changes to Firefox in the past year, bringing an array of new features into versions 3.5 and 3.6 and working on a "Lorentz" update designed to reduce crashes stemming from plug-ins such as Adobe Systems' Flash Player. Now a new generation of ideas, although still in rough form, are moving toward real-world use.

JavaScript overhaul
Mozilla deserves some credit for getting the race for faster JavaScript into higher gear, and its TraceMonkey engine was competitive in its time. But it's been surpassed by Chrome's V8 and Safari's Nitro, while the new Carakan engine in Opera 10.5 beta has the potential to match and perhaps beat all the contenders.   [More...] [Comments...]


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