Once the browser that made Internet Explorer look like a dinosaur (ironic considering Mozilla’s former mascot), Firefox has sadly been pushed to the background by the fast-paced development of Chrome, the novelty of Microsoft Edge, and even the persistence of Opera. Making up for lost time, opportunity, and market share, Mozilla is aiming or a quantum leap in progress with a new browser engine and new UI engine, all of which will come together in the next version aptly nicknamed “Firefox Quantum”.
Those following web browser news should probably be familiar with that name. It is, in fact, taken from its Project Quantum endeavor to speed up Firefox and catch up with the market. Some of the fruits of this project have already made its way to users, such as the use of multiple CPU cores, the use of the WebAssembly language, and support for WebVR.
Mozilla didn’t stop there. Other optimizations that are still coming in Firefox 57 include a new CSS engine written in Firefox’s own Rust programming language. Firefox is also promised to use 30% less RAM than Chrome through the use of smart prioritization of active tabs. All of these yields to a 200% increase in speed compared to how Firefox was just a year ago. That is based on a new Speedometer 2.0 benchmarking tool, which, in the spirit of full disclosure, is an open source tool developed by Mozilla.
The plumbing isn’t the only thing that will be changing in Firefox 57. Even the user interface will be changing. As part of its Project Photon initiative, Firefox is getting rid of the curved tab design that was both the source of identification and ridicule. Firefox will also be able to take advantage of high-resolution screens that are now common even on smartphones.
These are definitely huge changes that warrant the Firefox Quantum moniker. This version is now available in beta for brave testers, though you can also wait until November 14 to get the final version. In the meantime, Firefox 56 is also around the corner, which will mark the end of Flash support in the web browser.