Firefox 7 reaches beta, promises faster browsing

MemShrink project reduced memory consumption by as much as 50 per cent

Mozilla yesterday released a beta of Firefox 7, putting the lighter-weight browser in front of a large number of users for the first time.

According to Mozilla, Firefox 7 uses significantly less memory than Firefox 4 through Firefox 6, cutting consumption by as much as 50 per cent.

The savings come courtesy of a two-month-old project dubbed "MemShrink" designed to drive down Firefox's memory consumption and close "memory leaks," bugs that prevent memory from being released to the system when tabs are closed. Over time, those bugs can degrade the browser's performance, or in extreme cases, cause it to crash or lock up.

In a blog post 10 days ago, Nicholas Nethercote, the Mozilla engineer who manages MemShrink, said that Firefox 7 "uses less memory..., often 20 per cent to 30 per cent less, and sometimes as much as 50 per cent less" than earlier versions.

Nethercote also claimed that the memory changes make Firefox 7 faster than its predecessors.

The appearance of Firefox 7 in Mozilla's beta channel starts the clock ticking toward a Sept. 27 release of the browser. Mozilla now rolls out new versions every six weeks, adding features to each edition as they're completed rather than waiting for numerous changes to accumulate.

Other improvements in Firefox 7 highlighted by Mozilla include faster synchronization of passwords and bookmarks between copies of the browser, quicker rendering of HTML5 Canvas-based animation on Windows PCs, and a new optional add-on that provides Mozilla with performance data.

Firefox 8, next in the series, will sport some additional memory bug fixes, said Nethercote Tuesday, including one that decreases consumption on very large web pages.

Mozilla said Thursday that it will launch Firefox 8 to the "Aurora" channel some time today. That edition is slated to ship in final form on Nov. 8.

Five months ago, Mozilla shifted to a faster release cadence and a multiple-version program that offers Aurora, beta and release editions -- listed in increasing order of polish and stability -- for testing and evaluation.

The beta of Firefox 7 can be downloaded from Mozilla's website. Users who have been running earlier betas -- such as the one for Firefox 6, which shipped three days ago -- will be automatically offered version 7.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags browsersinternetsoftwareapplicationsmozilla

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?