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Web Browser Grand Prix 4: Firefox 4 Goes Final

Introduction

Last week, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 became the Web Browser Grand Prix (WBGP) champion, just one day before Firefox 4 was released (you can download it right here). Although testing began the day of Internet Explorer 9's launch (we have that one available for download, too), the timing of our publication ended up being quite unfortunate. Scores of angry Firefox 4 fans stormed the comments and forums, torches and pitchforks in hand. They demanded an update with Firefox 4 RC2 included. They offered up a leaked final copy for testing. They demanded the story be taken down and IE9 stripped of its title. They accused us of blasphemy and called for my head.

Since our update to the WBGP3's first page was no use against the angry horde, let's clear this up right here on the front page of WBGP4.

We only test final products in the WBGP. If we let one pre-release build in, we have to let them all in. Fair for one is fair for all, right? When that happens, things get weird. No one wants to be measured purely for speed against Chrome Canary. It may shut itself down whenever it pleases, but damn it's fast. Or remember when the IE9 platform preview came out? No discernible method to interact with the application in any way, but hey, look at those benchmark scores! Officially-distributed stable code is our line in the sand. We're calling a winner at the end of this, and you just don't compare development builds to final products in that setting. You just don't.

That phony final copy of Firefox 4 was a perfect example of why. We ran it through the WBGP3 suite on the WBGP3 test installation before wiping the drive for WBGP4. We hoped that wasn't indicative of the final build, and Mozilla confirmed it wasn't.

Now that Mozilla also has a major refresh on the scene, it's already time for Microsoft to defend its title. But this article isn't simply a rematch, a do-over of WBGP3. No, this truly is WBGP4. And that means an update to our suite of benchmarks. New contender Firefox 4 brings with it the ability to crack open two brand new areas of testing: HTML5 hardware acceleration and WebGL. Before Firefox 4 went final, only Google Chrome could take advantage of WebGL, making comparison impossible. Likewise, WBGP3 champion Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 was the only stable Web browser to utilize HTML5 hardware acceleration. Today, Mozilla gets to take them both on.

Since the publication of WBGP3, Chrome 10 has also received some minor updates (we're using 10.0.648.204 for our testing here), and we've introduced a couple of other new benchmarks as well. But before we get to the testing, let's take a look at what Mozilla has been up to these past few months with a featurette on Firefox 4.

  • reprotected
    Because people can't wait for half a second. I never had a single rendering problem with any of my browsers.
    Reply
  • LuckyDucky7
    Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus.

    That pretty much sums it up. No amount of optimization will help you when it comes to loading web pages if you have a large amount of adframes and such to slow you down.

    So have your super-fast IE9: I bet the ads will appreciate loading quick too.
    Reply
  • @ericburnby

    you must enjoy all those ads, in real world the difference in speed is negligible, but i sure has hell appreciate a rock stable browser, which is not what IE is, now saying that i have to say IE9 is definitely light years ahead of it's predecessor

    have used all 3 browser and found FF to be the most stable by far
    Reply
  • @ StableBrowser,

    You must enjoy being an ignorant Fx fanboy. IE9 comes with adblocking features without needing any extensions.
    Reply
  • nd22
    IE9 is indeed fast, but my question relates to Safari, a browser created specifically for Mac, not for Windows. On Mac Safari is incredible fast, why Tom’s did not tested Safari on the platform which it was designed for?
    Reply
  • @luckyducky7

    "Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus.

    That pretty much sums it up. No amount of optimization will help you when it comes to loading web pages if you have a large amount of adframes and such to slow you down.

    So have your super-fast IE9: I bet the ads will appreciate loading quick too."

    Not if you use tracking protection.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    nd22IE9 is indeed fast, but my question relates to Safari, a browser created specifically for Mac, not for Windows. On Mac Safari is incredible fast, why Tom’s did not tested Safari on the platform which it was designed for?It is my hope that we'll be able to do that. Hopefully for the next major Safari release. If that's at the same time as Lion, then we might have to use the latest updated Snow Leopard for time reasons.
    Reply
  • jsowoc
    Re: Acid3
    This is why Firefox doesn't get 100:
    http://limi.net/articles/firefox-acid3/
    Reply
  • I loaded up IE today because the Chase website gives me problems with Chrome, and I was surprised by how fast IE9 is now. Loading pages seemingly as fast or faster then chrome. I even thought of switching it to my primary browser, but the lack of Ad-block support killed it. It is a necessary feature and every browser should have it or something like it these days.
    Reply
  • andy5174
    The latest Chrome is indeed pretty fast, but I just can't live without Tab Mix Plus which is only available to Firefox. Someone please write a similar add-on for Chrome!!!
    Reply