With the release of Firefox 4 Beta 1, Mozilla is preparing to once again take on Google's Chrome, Opera Software's Opera and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The company finds itself in a good position. As the world's second-most popular browser, Firefox is poised to continue its growth and eventually supplant Internet Explorer as the top program in the space.
Of course, achieving that goal could be more difficult than ever. Google Chrome is gaining market share at a rapid rate, thanks to the browser's ability to load Web pages far more quickly than the competition. Even Internet Explorer gained a little share in June, even though Microsoft is forced to give European Windows users their choice of browsers. Simply put, the market is heating up.
But it's Chrome that may be Mozilla's biggest competition in the browser market. It's quickly gaining ground, and it arguably delivers the best experience of any browser on the market. And even though Firefox 4 is still at the beta stage, and the final release is potentially far off, one thing is clear: Chrome continues to reign supreme as the browser with the best design and performance. Let's examine why Google Chrome is still better than Firefox 4.
1. Firefox loads too slowly
A major problem with Firefox in the past has been that it starts up too slowly compared with other browsers. Mozilla obviously realized that and did a fine job, at least in Windows 7, of making Firefox 4 load far more quickly. But it's still too slow when compared with Chrome. It's not necessarily a deal-breaker-the difference is about 1 or 2 seconds-but it's noticeable enough for some users who require zippy actions to opt for Chrome over Mozilla's product.
2. Browsing is still slow
A browser's ability to load pages will determine which software people will use on a regular basis to surf the Web. When comparing Firefox 4 with Chrome, it quickly becomes apparent that the latter browser does a much better job of loading pages. In some cases, large, detailed pages load nearly twice as fast in Chrome than in Firefox. Mozilla's latest browser beta is admittedly much faster than its predecessor, but until Firefox does a better job of quickly loading pages, most folks will likely opt for Google's browser.
3. A multicapable address bar is missing
One of the key components in Chrome is the ability to use its address bar both for search and for typing in a URL. In Firefox 4, the functionality is similar. Users can type a URL into the address bar and go to the desired site, or they can type in a search query and get the first site listed in Google search results. That's certainly better than nothing, but it would be nice if the address bar doubled as a true search field, rather than being flanked by a search bar. It's not necessarily an annoyance, but it's just another example of Chrome doing a slightly better job than Mozilla's latest browser.
4. The design feels nice, but borrowed
A quick comparison between previous versions of Firefox and the new iteration of the browser shows just how far Firefox 4 has come in design. It's a much nicer browser that longtime Firefox fans will like. But further inspection reveals that it looks awfully similar to Chrome on Windows 7. Not only has Mozilla consolidated menus, as Chrome did, but Firefox has also taken on a similar skin to Chrome. It's not necessarily a bad thing, since Chrome is so well-designed, but it seems rather unfortunate that Mozilla couldn't come up with something a little more unique to challenge Google's browser with.