Mozilla has been quietly sitting on the sidelines for a while now, content to slowly work on improving Firefox. But the release of the Firefox Quantum shows that the company is now ready to join the big league once again and take on Google's Chrome.
Mozilla unveiled the new and improved version 57 of Firefox on Tuesday, claiming that the browser is now twice as fast as before. The company also revealed a new user interface (UI) that looks decidedly minimalist.
According to Mozilla executive Mark Mayo, the latest update is the biggest one they've rolled out since the company launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004. It's also the apex of six years worth of research and development, as well as engineering work that ran for about a year and a half.
The Firefox Quantum touts a revamped rendering engine along with a new CSS layout engine. The engine and other components are written in Rust, a programming language developed by Mozilla's own research group with the goal of increasing speed. Mozilla also claims that Quantum uses 30% less memory than Chrome and that it has been designed to meet the needs of people who surf the internet by switching from various tabs.
Firefox's release notes also listed changes in active tab prioritization, a switch-over from legacy add-ons to those developed via the WebAssembly API, and Pocket integration. The reworked browser is also sporting a new UI, its first redesign since Firefox 4. The changes in the browser's UI and UX (user experience) puts significant emphasis on giving it a speed boost.
It's clear that the new UI compliments the austere look that rivals Edge and Chrome sport. Firefox Quantum integrates the search and address bars in a bid to reduce the clutter usually found on top of the window. A revamped new tab page was also revealed.
Users in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S, also quickly noticed that Mozilla has foregone using Yahoo as its default search engine. Instead, the company has reverted back to using Google, its partner and main financier before the two companies had a falling out in 2014. However, Firefox will continue using its default search engine in other countries. For instance, China will still be using Baidu while Belarus and Russia will continue using Yandex.
Mozilla is hoping that the changes Firefox Quantum carries will be more than enough to challenge Chrome and other browsers. But it's admittedly an uphill battle at the moment. However, Firefox's stance to be tech neutral and the groundwork it has laid down can make Mozilla's bid to return to the top easier.[Featured image via Mozilla]