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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applicationsbrowserssoftwareinternetmozilla

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

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?