Firefox is rescued

The Big Cheeses in the Mozzarella Foundation have much to celebrate today – not only have they managed to secure their finances by negotiating a deal with Google, they have released a version of Firefox which is really rather good.

Firefox has, sadly, been a bit of an also-ran on the browser market lately having been eclipsed by Google’s Chrome and rejected by businesses because it keeps insisting on upgrading itself every two minutes.

A system admin whose company is running Firefox has to run continual upgrades without anyone seeing any benefits. Many have walk away from the browser.

This state of affairs was heading to a crisis when the Mozzarella Foundation found that its financial agreement with Google was about to run out. Google had been bankrolling the Foundation for ages, but that was before it entered the browser market itself. Many had expected that when the agreement ended at Christmas, Google would say “so long and thanks for all the fish”.

Now, it seems that the Foundation has managed to get the agreement extended and so it looks like the status quo will continue.

For a while we have been moaning that Firefox has been getting slower with every upgrade. But this upgrade, Firefox 9, makes the thing go like the clappers.

There is not much different to see in the interface and there only appear to be a handful of developer-oriented fixes, with Do Not Track status being queried via JavaScript, and support for standards like HTML5, CSS, and MathML. But what is noticeable is the improved JavaScript performance.

This makes everything seem to go about a third faster and it is not the sort of “faster” which is difficult to see. This is obvious. What is causing it is a major improvement in Firefox’s JaegerMonkey JIT compiler.

It’s called type inference and was supposed to be seen in Firefox 5 but it was pushed back. As a result Firefox appeared to fall behind Chrome for speed. Now the bugs are ironed out and Firefox is suddenly the dog’s.

This is good news for Firefox. Now the worry is that it might have lost too much ground already.  With Version 9 clearly a superior product, there is the small matter of whether Firefox needs all those updates which are keeping it out of businesses.