File Under: Browsers

Speedier Firefox 7 Uses Less Memory

Mozilla has released Firefox 7. Thanks to the faster release cycle, Firefox 7 comes just six weeks after Firefox 6 and brings some significant speed boosts that make it well worth the upgrade.

If you’d like to take Firefox 7 for a spin, head over to the Mozilla downloads page. Current Firefox users will be automatically updated to the latest version.

Firefox 7 sees as much as a 50 percent reduction in memory use, which is great news for those that frequently have a lot of tabs open or leave Firefox running for long periods of time.

The shrinking memory footprint is part of Mozilla’s ongoing effort to reduce Firefox’s memory use. This is the first release to benefit from the MemShrink project, as it’s known. Those who’ve been using the Nightly or Aurora channels know that even more memory improvements are on their way in Firefox 8 and 9.

Web developers will be pleased to know that Firefox 7 re-enables web sockets by default. Firefox had web socket support in earlier releases, but it was turned off due to security concerns. Now web sockets are back and Firefox 7′s support has been updated to match the most recent draft version of the web sockets protocol. If you’re developing a web app that uses web sockets and want to support Firefox, be sure to use the -moz prefix in your code.

Other good news for web developers in Firefox 7 include support for the Navigation Timing spec, which allows you to measure page performance from the page itself, and some performance improvements, which will speed up animations done in the HTML5 Canvas tag.

Firefox 7 also stops websites from resizing your main window. If you’ve been doing such things (seriously, don’t) bear in the mind that, as of Firefox 7, you can’t resize a window or tab that wasn’t created by, and you can’t resize a window or tab when it’s in a window with more than one tab.

If you’re worried about this latest release breaking your add-ons, rest easy, there’s a very good chance it won’t. Mozilla is getting much closer to an improved add-on system that will alleviate the upgrade pain for those who rely on extensions. Mozilla is already automatically updating compatibility for add-ons on its own site. Add-ons downloaded from around the web are a different story, but at least for those it hosts Mozilla reports that the move from Firefox 6 to 7 will negatively affect only 1 percent.

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