Firefox Quantum - Fast For Good
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Firefox 57, aka Quantum, has arrived and it does live up to its claims - both of being twice as fast as it used to be and being faster than Chrome. It also seems stable, in the sense of not crashing,  which is the all-important factor for those of us who rely on a browser for productivity.




This latest release of Firefox, that arrived in the stable channel on November 14, 2017 is a major overhaul. It has a new engine based on Rust, the language Mozilla has developed for the purpose, and incorporates part of the experimental Servo engine that has been gradually replacing Gecko for some months already.

When you install Firefox 57 the welcome message from Mozilla's CEO Chris Beard's welcome message states:

What you’ll notice first is that the new Firefox is blazing fast. In fact, you’ll enjoy speeds up to twice as fast as a year ago. It’s also more powerful. We’ve rebuilt Firefox from the ground up to focus on how you use the Web today to watch, listen, create and play without limits. We’re excited to deliver a browser that feels completely different — modern, quick and efficient. We think you’ll agree: It’s a quantum leap forward in how you’ll experience the Internet.

As well as being as fast or faster than Chrome it uses 30% less memory that Chrome, which contributes to its superior performance.

This video has some of the highlights:



As well as its speedy new engine, Firefox has a new UI called Photon with new themes, tab designs and menus items intended to unify and modernize the browser's look and feel. The Photon Design System has guidelines, reusable UI components, templates, and other resources to help developers to create products that are consistent with it.


Among the user-oriented features is the integration of Pocket, which Mozilla acquired in February, that lets users save articles and other content to a personal reading list. Another is the ability to capture Screen shots from within Firefox. Pocket saves, screen shots, together with downloads, browsing history and bookmarks are to be found in the Library.



Mozilla has also launched a  marketing campaign for Firefox in attempt to win back some of the market share currently held by Chrome. Explaining these efforts on the Mozilla blog, Chief Marketing Officer, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, writes:

Our research tells us that Firefox and its parent organization Mozilla are both well-known brands. Yet not enough people see a distinction between Firefox and our biggest competitor, Chrome. And even fewer people understand that Mozilla is a not-for-profit responsible for pro-Internet technologies, policies, and programs beyond Firefox.

The post refers to consumers identified by Mozilla as "Conscious Choosers"  and claimed to represent 23% of all Internet users. According to Kaykas-Wolff:

This segment takes time to research and understand products and companies in order to make a deliberate choice about who and what they support. They share a worldview that is against monopolies and centralized power hubs, and for democratic access to information, knowledge, and resources. They try hard to reconcile these values with their behaviors, and while willing to take the extra effort to do what is right, they are in a constant balancing act between choosing what is “easy” and doing what is “right.”


The tagline adopted for the new Firefox marketing campaign is Fast for Good and conveys the message that with Firefox 57 there is no trade-off between performance (the “easy” choice) and the “right” choice - mentioning powerful privacy options and Mozilla's mission-driven not-for profit status.




As Firefox used to be my preferred browser - until it became impossible to work with and I was forced to defect to Chrome - I was happy to give it a new chance to win me back.

Returning to Firefox, or trying it for the first time, could be made easier by making the facility to import bookmarks and passwords from other browsers easier. After all very few of the users Firefox is hoping to woo to its go-faster browser are going to be first time Internet users. The huge majority are going to be seasoned web surfers and we'll want to bring a lot of accumulated baggage with us. Users will be very reluctant to make Firefox their default browser until they are sure they won't lose access to their personal data and to sites they have come to rely on. There is an Import Wizard to do the job, but finding it, even when you know it exists is tricky. It is accessed using the "Import Data from Another Browser option in the Import and Backup dropdown in the Library.




Firefox 57 is just the start of the Firefox Quantum experience and it seems good. So as we've previously urged - give Firefox a go, or another go - it really does use less memory for multiple tabs than Chrome.




More Information

Firefox - Download and What's New

The New Firefox Is Here!

Entering the Quantum Era

Related Articles

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Firefox Developer Edition Goes Quantum

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Firefox 54 Multi-Process and Faster - Can It Woo Us Back

Chrome Declared Winner

Firefox Makeover Loses Devs

First Contact - Firefox & Chrome WebRTC

Mozilla WebRTC Goes Mainstream

Firefox 42 Developer Edition

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 November 2017 )