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Mozilla Executives: Why Firefox 4 Will Blow You Away

Nightingale and Beltzner Discuss Speed, Tabs, and Their Stance on Competition

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Mozilla Executives: Why Firefox 4 Will Blow You Away

(Image © Mozilla Corporation)

March 11, 2011

With the official release of Firefox 4 set for March 22, I had the opportunity to interview two of the people responsible for the browser reaching this point: Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering and Mike Beltzner, Director of Firefox at Mozilla Corporation. We discussed Firefox’s past, present, and future, along with some of today’s hot browser topics including the mobile market and cloud computing.

Firefox has come a long way since the 3.0 release back in 2008. What new feature in Firefox 4 do you think your users will appreciate the most?

In the short term, they'll be blown away by the speed. Everything's faster in Firefox 4. Improvements to our JavaScript engine and use of hardware graphics acceleration mean that websites are faster and interactions are smoother, and improvements to our startup time mean that the browser is always ready as soon as you need it. As they start using Firefox 4 more, though, they'll come to love the way it anticipates the way they use the Web with features like App Tabs and Panorama for organizing all of their open pages.

New competitors continue to enter the desktop browser market, each one slowly making a dent as far as user share is concerned. Are you surprised that so many different browsers have been able to obtain a respectable following?

We are very happy to see that other browsers are adopting modern technologies like HTML5, etc. We are also seeing performance and UI improvements in all browsers which fundamentally benefits the user.

What is Mozilla doing to keep its users from abandoning ship and installing one of the newer alternatives?

At the end of the day, if people use any good, fast browser that supports open standards, that's great news for us since making the Web a better place is Mozilla's whole mission. Firefox continues to gain new users and market share, though, by serving the needs of our users. We answer to no one but you, and features like Firefox 4's ability to synchronize all your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords and open tabs between computers and even to Android phones makes it hard to beat. Many users are also drawn to our incredible customizability and our dedication to security and privacy which remain unparalleled.

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