Firefox 4 Released, Claims 7 Million Downloads

Mozilla fights back against declining market share for its Firefox browser with the release of Firefox 4.

Mozilla's Firefox 4 Web browser, released March 22, is off to a promising start, if the company's download tracking statistics are to be believed. The animated tracking page shows the browser has been downloaded nearly 7 million times worldwide since its launch; the majority of downloads appear to be focused on the two coasts of the United States, Japan and across Western Europe. Overall, Europe is currently in the lead with more than 3 million downloads so far, followed by North America with nearly 1.8 million downloads and Asia with just more than 1.3 million downloads.

The free and open-source Web browser is available to download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in more than 80 languages. Firefox 4 will also be available on Android and Maemo devices soon. Major enhancements to the JavaScript engine make everything from startup time to page load speed to graphics and JavaScript performance screaming fast in Firefox.

With features such as App Tabs and Panorama, Firefox 4 is designed to make it easier to navigate the Web. Firefox delivers enhanced privacy and security features such as Do Not Track and Content Security Policy to give users control over their personal data and protect them online. In addition, Firefox Sync gives users access to their Awesome Bar history, bookmarks, open tabs and passwords across computers and mobile devices. Firefox also offers hundreds of thousands of add-ons, extensions and Personas and a new Firefox Add-ons Manager to make it easier for users to manage and discover add-ons to customize their Web experience.

A streamlined tabs interface includes App Tabs to give a permanent home to frequently visited sites such as Web mail, Twitter, Pandora, Flickr and other social networking sites, Switch to Tab to more easily find and switch to any open tab from the Awesome Bar without opening duplicate tabs and Panorama, which allows users to drag and drop tabs into manageable groups to save time while navigating many open tabs.

In addition, Firefox Sync allows users to access their Awesome Bar history, bookmarks, open tabs, passwords and form data across multiple computers and mobile devices, while HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) automatically establishes secure connections to stop "man in the middle" attacks and keep sensitive data safe from interception during the log-in process. Another security feature is Content Security Policy (CSP), designed to prevent cross-scripting attacks by allowing sites to explicitly tell the browser which content is legitimate.

HTML5 support in Firefox includes hardware accelerated, high-definition video (WebM), 3D graphics, offline data storage, professional typography, touchscreen interfaces and the Mozilla Audio API to help create visual experiences for sound and more, while the JavaScript engine incorporates the new J???gerMonkey JIT compiler, along with enhancements to the existing TraceMonkey JIT and SpiderMonkey's interpreter for faster page-load speed and better performance of Web apps and games.

Mozilla is struggling to keep market share as rivals such as Google's Chrome browser are picking up steam in 2011. While Mozilla has been working feverishly to bring Firefox 4 to market, releasing new beta versions of the build every few weeks across desktop and mobile platforms, the market share for the browser dipped an entire percentage point, from 22.8 percent in January to 21.7 percent this month, according to market researcher Net Applications.