The final release date of Firefox 3 is fast approaching and we’re beginning to hear much more good news about it. According to a report by Ryan Paul at Ars Technica, beta 4 of Mozilla’s browser consumes less than half the memory of Firefox 18.104.22.168. Using a memory benchmarking technique, Firefox 3 was also found to be using less memory than either Internet Explorer or Opera. Safari 3 and IE 8 both crashed during the test, so they weren’t counted.
…Which is all great news if you’re a Firefox fan like me. However, It’s not all good news. In my (admittedly not quite so scientific) testing of the various beta versions, beta 4 has caused me more trouble than betas 2 or 3 did. And yes, I’m testing it on a Mac. Firefox 3 beta 4’s main problems on the Mac seem to fall into two categories: (1) the horrible theme which, while it bravely incorporates native Mac elements, is just plain ugly; and (2) Beta 4 has crashed numerous times while Beta 3 didn’t crash once.
As I said, I’m aware that my experience isn’t as well documented as it should be – I’ll try to track down the error logs for the problem some time. All that said, I’m really happy that the latest Firefox looks like it’ll be the best yet. Its bookmarking system and much-improved auto-complete mechanism are streets ahead of Firefox 2, as are more technical aspects like text rendering and AJAX handling. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage as the Firefox 3 final release approaches.