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Firefox 4 RC Vs. IE9 RC: the First Duel 176

An anonymous reader writes "Firefox 4 vs. IE9 is going to be an epic battle in a reigniting browser war in which Microsoft wants its IE to be seen as a capable browser again. Mozilla struggled to keep the pace with Chrome and IE9, but is about to release the first release candidate, which is expected to be the final version of Firefox 4 as well. This first review of JavaScript, Flash and HTML5 tests seems to indicate that both browsers are about even at the bottom line, while Firefox has the JavaScript edge and IE is ahead in HTML5 performance."
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Firefox 4 RC Vs. IE9 RC: the First Duel

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  • Unfortunately, Beta 12 introduced a crazy printing glitch on my local setup, so I hope by the RC they put enough stuff in order to make it go away again. I rolled back to Beta 11 and sent them a Feedback.

    • People still print? ;)

      • by tyrione ( 134248 )

        People still print? ;)

        More paper is consumed in printing today than several previous decades, combined.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        How else do you expect interns to print a copy of the internet for our Congressmen? Surely you don't expect them to master those newfangled computer things AND those pellytone contraptions all at the same time!

    • by BZ ( 40346 )

      This was happening on Windows for users without hardware acceleration.

      It's fixed in the RC, and has been fixed in the nightlies for a while now.

  • by Mike Mentalist ( 544984 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:27PM (#35407632) Homepage
    After a while they just become samey and it's like arguing over which word processor is best - the one that loads 13% faster or the one that runs spellchecker 8% faster.
    • Actually, I'm not. The more the browser makers fight over each % in market share, the better off we all are. I'd rather have 4 or 5 browsers continuously fighting it out than the situation we had back in 2001.

      I still shudder when I think of the browser dark ages.

      • I'm also glad to see that IE is competitive again. It's not that I want it to dominate every again but I am so sick and tired of feeling like emerging web technologies are held hostage by Microsoft's unwillingness (it's clearly not inability as IE9 is demonstrating) to build a browser that doesn't swallow testicles.

        • Don't forget the countless people on older Windows software that won't be supported. MS fanboys claim that this because IE9 needs the unique features of late Windows versions, despite Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari having the same features and can run on older OS'es some can even run on Linux.

          What does that say about MS? Either they are not as capable as their competitors or not as willing.

          Make no mistake. MS has NOT changed its attitude. It will simply do IE9 hoping it can dominate again, then ignore it

          • Meh, isn't it obvious? MS wants XP to disappear and everyone to move onwards with 7.

            It doesn't gain anything if it ports IE9 to Linux, Mac or whatever, the way I understand it is "You're using IE8, would you like to get better features? They only work on 7 though, switch today!"

          • by BZ ( 40346 )

            The thing is, the other browsers do NOT have the "same features" when running on XP.

            For example, Firefox only does 2d hardware acceleration on Windows at the moment, and only on Vista/Win7. It does 3d hardware acceleration everywhere, though.

            Now I think the MS decision is not the right one, but is it qualitatively different from Mozilla not shipping a Firefox 4 on PPC due to the lack of a JIT backend for that architecture and hence not being able to deliver equivalent JS performance?

            Quantitatively, it's di

          • by smash ( 1351 )
            Software support expires. Get over it and move on. Linux 2.2 doesn't cut it these days either.
        • I'm also glad to see that IE is competitive again. It's not that I want it to dominate every again but I am so sick and tired of feeling like emerging web technologies are held hostage by Microsoft's unwillingness (it's clearly not inability as IE9 is demonstrating) to build a browser that doesn't swallow testicles.

          Competitive does not equal "Faster than Firefox, but slower than Chrome...: at least not in my mind. While speed increases play some part in the competitive nature of their offering, there are other things, such as... oh, I dunno... adherence to web standards, security, a plug-in mechanism that actually allows uninstalling unwanted plugins and extensions (as opposed to simply being able to semi-disable them), functionality, ease of use. unambiguous text indicating that numerous of the setup options (and the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 )

      I agree they are only worth posting when there is a significant win one either side. Right now it looks like IE9 has a slight lead in some areas over Firefox. Which means nothing. Other then IE has gotten the Most Improved Award. Just as long as we have competing browsers that have a fair market share (EI, FireFox, Chrome and Safari) I am happy once either side gets a good win (Like IE 5-6 did) then that is where the trouble gets in where the winner separates from the standard and forces its own standard

      • by rwv ( 1636355 )

        a new golden age of browsers

        So circa 2004 when Firefox first emerged from the hollowed out husk of Netscape was the bronze age of browsers, then? Wake me up when we make it to the platinum age and Microsoft stops relying on security-through-obscurity and adds better support for Non-windows platforms...

        In all seriousness, though, I'm glad Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla (and Opera) are all making improvements to the state-of-the-art.

      • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
        Good post, and I agree. It now comes down to requested features. In my case, extensions are a great thing. AdBlock Pro, No Scipt, Tab Mix Plus, and Slimsearch are all great extensions that are a must have. Others may have differing views / needs.
      • once either side gets a good win (Like IE 5-6 did) then that is where the trouble gets in where the winner separates from the standard and forces its own standards.

        Then I'd be most worried about Chrome. IE can only affect the Windows market, which is not even assured will be relevant in the not-so-distant future. Mozilla has a history of open processes and backward compatibility, for instance there was huge debate and rationale before switching to the awesome bar and you can make it 'less awesome' if you want to. Chrome on the other hand is already including custom junk like native client, SPDY (which is a crappy protocol btw), and like gnome they change the UI on

      • by Lennie ( 16154 )

        IE might have improved a lot performance wise, it is still way behind implementing many parts of many of the specs the other browsers already supported in their previous versions like Firefox 3.6.

        Here an example list: []|9&b2=firefox|4 []|9&b2=firefox|3.6

      • by Lennie ( 16154 )

        You forgot one thing, many many people are starting to use mobile devices more and more to surf the web. Mozilla latest beta of Mobile Firefox is supposedly the fastest browser for mobile devices.

        Having more competition in the mobile space is also a good thing because it allows webdevelopers to create websites which can take advantage of the new HTML5-API's for offline use. HTML5 is not only a new version of HTML but was specifically created to allow developers to easily create applications for the web (so

      • Which means nothing. Other then IE has gotten the Most Improved Award.

        Which also means nothing. Considering where they came from, (and numerous broken compatibility and speed promises), it's really not too hard for them to earn such an award. It's actually more shocking that it took them this long.

        Just as long as we have competing browsers that have a fair market share (EI, FireFox, Chrome and Safari) I am happy once either side gets a good win (Like IE 5-6 did)

        Yes... but the playing field is a lot different now. Microsoft no longer has the leverage to ensure the clear win they had back with IE6, or the decent win with IE5. It's not like Netscape wasn't faster - and heck, even better - back then. This time around, it will be based on the

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:50PM (#35408014)

      It's a little like that. Right now most of the fighting is between Javascript and rendering speed. Javascript performance is definitely no longer a bottleneck, a lot of work has been done there by a lot of people and all of the current browsers are orders of magnitude faster than browsers 5 years ago. Rendering speed is still an issue though, it doesn't do any good if I can manipulate the entire DOM in milliseconds if it takes the browser several seconds to render what I did.

      But don't worry, even if it's boring for you the end result is better browsers all around.

      • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @04:58PM (#35410898) Homepage Journal

        There are a lot of stability (e.g. multiple processes for crash isolation), UI, and extension differences between browsers and advances in all those areas.

        I see performance problems with FF when scrolling very large pages, and when switching tabs with many tabs open. Will the improvements in FF4 help that.

        I use Linux so IE9 is not an alternative anyway. Chromium will be once it has an extension to match Tree Style Tabs.

        • by BZ ( 40346 )

          Firefox 4 should definitely make scrolling faster in many cases (but may depend on your graphics hardware and drivers, like so many other things with hardware acceleration).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's about open standards. The reason we root for firefox is because Mozilla's goal is not to dominate the web, but to push open standards that can be used by everybody (including Microsoft).

      Microsoft's goal, obviously, is purely to dominate. The only reason we see them adopting web standards now is because IE's market share has dropped like a rock over the past 5 years. They have no choice, and we can thank Firefox for that.

    • They are not the same. Extensions are the difference. Even if there are IE addons that replicate the functionality of flashblock/adblock/lastpass/xmarks, they don't perform as well.

      Kind of feel the same about Chrome. Chrome has evil twins of all those extensions available, but when you install them, they're just not the same.

      Plus in Linux, the latest stable build of chromium actually is PAINFULLY slow in GMail! Go figure. I haven't tested bleeding-edge.

    • if they're equivalent i'd always pick the one that is free as in freedom.
      in fact even if it was slightly worse i'd take the freedom one so, it's win-win lol

    • After a while they just become samey and it's like arguing over which word processor is best - the one that loads 13% faster or the one that runs spellchecker 8% faster.

      I vote for spellchecker...

      ...oh, wait, was that a rhetorical question? Nevermind...

  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:31PM (#35407678)
    Or even compatibility reasons. And I'm definitely not an MS hater. I use it because of the well implemented and widely used plugin system. IE has something similar but it's just not as well done and doesn't have as rich an ecosystem. So I don't really care about a 10% difference here, or an 8.5% difference there that I will never notice anyway.
  • by cyclocommuter ( 762131 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:32PM (#35407698)
    The last time somebody tested these browsers using Microsoft's Fishtank [], Firefox 4 Beta won. I wonder who wins the Fishtank test this time.
    • by BZ ( 40346 )

      Right this second, likely IE. There was a last-minute security fix that introduced some undesirable lag into drawImage in Firefox and makes the fishtank a bit slower. Making it faster again isn't going to make Firefox 4, but will make Firefox 5 in a few months.

    • With 1000 fish: Firefox 4b12 gets ~18 FPS; IE9 9.0.8080.16413 gets about 1.
  • How it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metrix007 ( 200091 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:32PM (#35407708)
    IE is ahead in security(say what you like but vulns are at parity, and IE has support for sandboxing and WIC which FF lacks) and resource usage.

    FF wins for flexibility, configurability and extensibility, the things that matter to most people on this site.

    Things like speed and standards compliance are becoming irrelevant, as all 4 modern browsers are more than good enough. It's things like interface and how you can extend and configure the browser. In this Chrome is last, then IE, the Opera with Firefox coming in first, which is why it will be in the lead for a while.

    • Comparing vulnerabilities is tricky. Have you taken severity, and the level of disclosure by the developers into account?

      Chrome has low resource usage, and has quite a lot of extensions now - although it cannot match FF. Chrome also has a great UI.

  • One final test... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For 100 points, does your browser run on the huge installed base of WindowsXP?

    Dang, we'll be limited to IE8 features until at least 2013...

    • For 100 points, does your browser run on the huge installed base of WindowsXP?

      Dang, we'll be limited to IE8 features until at least 2013...

      Windows XP is very much like IE6 -- both are decade old systems that should have been left behind a long time ago. If not for lack of features so for lack of modern security.

    • by thsths ( 31372 )

      Isn't it funny that Firefox has better Windows support than Internet Explorer 9? :-)

      That being said, the upgrade to Windows 7 is certainly worth it, not just for the better browser.

  • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:36PM (#35407768)
    The Flash text benchmark is highly suspicious. IE9 posts by far the worst score for that benchmark on one machine, then beats FF on the same test on another machine. Without any description of testing methodology, I can only assume the benchmarking procedure is totally broken (e.g. maybe they only ran each one once) and so the results are best taken with a pinch of salt, even if they're not entirely useless.
  • Microsoft always cares about being number 1 in everything. Sometimes they stick their noses where it doesn't belong. They can't accept to lose in something. Yet if they really cared they would put more thought into their products before they released them and focus more on fixes rather than trying to constantly come out with a product to trump someone else.
    • Not sure how trying to build a better product in an area MS has had enormous success in constitutes sticking "their noses where it doesn't belong". Besides, the existence of MS's shitty browser (along with the shittiness of our old friend Netscape) was one of the catalysts for the development of Firefox in the first place. Competition is a good thing.
  • IE and WebGL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:45PM (#35407930)
    I don't know how IE has an HTML5 advantage since they have to do a WebGL conversion to DirectX which causes all renders to take 3X as long. You can hear it talked about in this demo from Fractallab( an online fractal generator built in HTML5 using WebGL.
    • IE9 doesn't support WebGL at all. But then WebGL is not part of HTML5 spec.

      • Well you got me on a technicality; it's supported through the canvas tag (part of the HTML5 spec) and WebGL is an open standard with it's own spec and is supported by all browsers... except IE. Making it the lone hold out and a throwback. This is SVG and CSS all over again. Where other browsers advance, IE stands back and waits and as a result, gets lapped by progress.

        So those who use HTML5 and want 3D applications will just all be converting to Chrome, Safari or Firefox as a result. No harm done.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:46PM (#35407946)

    The people that actually care about this have either made the switch already or have stuck with IE through it all, for whatever reason. Most of the end users I deal with that are on IE either don't have a clear concept of what a browser even is, or basically state they hate change and they've always used IE because "it's good enough" (likely because of all the IE workarounds we web developers have been forced to employ).

    Don't get me wrong - from a web development standpoint I'm ecstatic Microsoft is trying hard to improve IE's standards support and functionality. But I just don't believe IE 9's performance is going to make a significant impact on people's perceptions of it.

  • My conclusion is "FINALLY".

    IE till lags Firefox and Chrome in some of the larger "real world" benchmarks, but compared with prior iterations of IE, the improvements to V9 are nothing short of stunning. Similarly Firefox 4 Beta 12 cooks over 3.6.15 -- but even 3.6.15 has improved dramatically over prior 3.6 versions. The big stunner for me is how close all of the browsers are becoming in performance, while taking slightly different directions in browser tabs, menus, etc. -- but that most of the "nasty trick tests" I know for XHTML and CSS through what we sorta call "2.1" don't fail in any of the new browsers. (I've been stuck in VB land for the last year, so I can't claim enough knowledge to test either HTML5 or the CSS 3.X stuff at this point).

    Anyway, what that means for me as a professional coder is that now I can concentrate on cross-PLATFORM applications, instead of cross-BROWSER. Which is nothing short of the best news I've had this year in terms of IT work.
  • by FlapHappy ( 937803 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @02:13PM (#35408390) Journal
    ...but as a developer I just hope IE 9 conforms to standards. Firefox will. Javascript/CSS is all happy and fun until you need to account for IE's quirks.
    • It does conform, though to not as many standards as Firefox.

      IMO, the important part is that it actually conforms to those standards it claims it does - unlike the previous versions, where you had to use various hacks to do "conditional interpretation" of HTML & CSS because the same feature would be interpreted differently by IE compared to other browsers. With this release, there is a decent subset of HTML5 that you know you can code against, and have it render/work correctly in IE and everywhere else.

  • by jjsm ( 895856 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @02:16PM (#35408442)
    I am using the Firefox 4 RC 1 and my native screen resolution is 1920x1080 (DPI adjusted to 150%). Firefox still ignores my DPI setting (Windows 7 OS). Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari are already aware of DPI settings. Why not Firefox?
    • Probably because there is no definition of "DPI aware."

      Probably what you want is for firefox to scale only its UI elements.. and it can... it just doesnt do it based on an OS setting that doesnt have a clearly defined meaning (ie, should the displayed document also be scaled, or just the applications UI elements? Maybe text in the document, but not margins?) .. remember that your DPI setting in all probability doesnt actually describe your monitors physical DPI.

      My guess is that as you read this, that yo
      • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @04:31PM (#35410540)

        Windows has had a very well-defined meaning for DPI, and has done since XP. EVERYTHING is supposed to scale with the DPI setting. Everything does scale in most Microsoft applications. Yes, that includes documents and margins and UI elements.

        If you want the UI elements to be larger but not the body, then you've ALWAYS done it by setting larger sizes for UI elements in the DisplayProperties control panel. Not by setting DPI.

        There is no "DPI aware problem", apart from the UI programmers you mention -- and they're just being ignorant or lazy.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @02:23PM (#35408546)
    Good grief, give the drama a rest, will ya. It is only going to be an epic battle in the minds of those who count up page hits as a measure of self-importance.
  • So you pit the two browsers currently losing market share against each other? Granted IE far more than Firefox, but the standard to beat right now is Chrome. Look at the graph []. There's only browser going up is Chrome. Maybe IE9 and FF4 can stop their customers bleeding away, but they have a long road to get on the offensive - particularly IE.

    • by mugnyte ( 203225 )

      No, they pit the two browsers currently comprising 75% of the market - because when one publishes a report on performance one doesn't include fanboi rants about trends. Chrome will indeed get included on many comparisons, but TFA made clear that they are just comparing two emerging versions of largest segments.

  • Firefox 4 could possibly stop the market share bleeding, but it does not have the unique feature set and appeal to win users back from Chrome

    Strange conclusion, when they didn't compare the browser to Chrome in the article, but IE 9. I'm not showing a preference for either of these browsers involved - I just thought it was late in the article to start talking of a completely different web browser...

  • by hduff ( 570443 ) <> on Monday March 07, 2011 @03:23PM (#35409524) Homepage Journal

    Paraphrased somewhat with an additional comment.

    Both browsers are fast JavaScript browsers and the differences are unlikely to be noticed in average browsing today.

    Firefox 4 and IE9 are substantially upgraded browsers when compared to their predecessors and show few weaknesses in any benchmark.

    It is obvious that Firefox has a great JavaScript engine.

    IE9s hardware acceleration engine is the one to beat.

    Firefox's only real competition is Chrome for the standpont of what the author calls and unexplained "unique feature set" which IE9 appears to lack altogether.

    So it's a draw on performance. No evaluation was done from the very important security standpoint. The most striking difference not commented upon but highlighted by the results is the poor performance of the Intel graphics chipset in both browsers.

  • Firefox will continue to be standards compliant and MSIE will continue to be a standard complaint.

    Microsoft has too much invested in its old tech and backward compatibility. Furthermore, it still has too much to gain from "everyone else's browsers seem broken while MSIE works just fine" which is still a pervasive perception among users.

    (This has a chance to change, though, as MSIE9 will be clearly unavailable to WinXP users, web sites will begin updating to support MSIE9 leaving MSIE8 users less supported

  • God, slashdot is so 2008.

    Get with the program - 3D HTML6 is the way to roll!

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