Considering Firefox 4.0b10pre as my primary browser

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Today I have again updated to the latest preview release of Firefox4.0b9. It’s dated January 20th, 2011 and it seems pretty stable and fast. I have played a little more with it and its new features and a thought has gone through my mind: Am I ready to switch to Firefox 4.0 now?

The question is more complex as it looks. I am testing beta and preview releases of Firefox for almost seven months, starting with Firefox 3.7a6pre, which was later renamed to Firefox 4 Alpha 6 (preview). I was always looking forward to switch to the new, faster and feature richer version, but there were always some open questions. With Firefox 4, the questions were so big that my answer to the question of switch was always NO. Until now, maybe.

Here are the things I consider when switching to a new (even untested, beta or preview version) of a browser:

  • Does it work?
  • Is it stable?
  • Is it faster?
  • Does it still looks useful or has the UI changed to much in the direction that I don’t like?
  • Do the add-ons work?
  • Are there enough new features to make a switch?

The main downside of all the new versions was that there were not enough add-ons released, so I was missing several important ones (at least for me). Actually, they were so important, that I didn’t want to switch.

Today I have made a test again and have seen that some of the add-ons were updated and were available.  Some of them were available on the developers’ sites but not on the Mozilla site. Others are usable as they are (with the manual version change). Some of them are not available yet. I have managed to install Mouse Gestures Redox, which is an absolute must, and I’m happy for that. The new development nightly version was released on Jan 3rd and is available on the developers site. I am slowly adding other add-ons to my installation, but I’m thinking of duplicating my primary profile and see what else is not available.

With features like Mozilla Panorama (previously Eye Candy), where I can group tabs into topics, the new Firefox seems really usable (note that the keyboard short cut has changed from CTRL-Space to CTRL-E). With ‘missing’ status bar, however, it’s not really user friendly. You can, however, install Status-4-Evar add-on and get the status bar back.