Mozilla adds multiprocessing with Electrolysis in Firefox 54

Four Cylinders

© Lead Image © Karols Stefan Sobolewski, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Karols Stefan Sobolewski, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 204/2017
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Developers are praising Firefox 54 as the "best Firefox ever." The revamped web browser adds multiprocessing and promises a significant boost in speed.

In the mid-1990s, Netscape Navigator was the leading web browser, but when Microsoft decided to bundle Internet Explorer (IE) with the Windows operating system, the tide began to turn. After years of competition (and litigation), Redmond lost the antitrust case, but won the browser war. At its peak, IE had an 80 percent share of the browser market. But the Mozilla project, which was built from remnants of Netscape, bounced back with Firefox. The Firefox browser has had a long and glorious run, attracting up to 48 percent of the market at its peak, including many Windows users who opted for Firefox because they just liked it better than IE [1].

Firefox's fortunes have waned in recent years. Chrome has emerged as the leading third-party browser alternative, with Firefox market share falling somewhere in the range of 11 to 14 percent. Part of the change is the ordinary dynamics of the software development lifecycle. An application is designed for the time in which it is built, with state-of-the-art programming techniques and implicit assumptions about the state of available hardware. As the world changes, the software continues to receive updates, but a large-scale overhaul is never easy midstream, especially for an application with millions of users.

Chrome was built later and isn't showing the same signs of age. IE is definitely aging, but Microsoft solved the problem by replacing IE with a whole new browser – the Microsoft Edge browser, which debuted with Windows 10.

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