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Firefox marketshare revisited (andreasgal.com)
390 points by ronjouch 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 513 comments

One additional cause of new Chrome installs taking over from Firefox: bundleware. Chrome is foisted upon users as install-by-default bundleware when users install or update lots of different apps, especially free antivirus apps on Windows. Just clicking "Continue" when your free antivirus on Windows updates will cause Chrome to be installed and set as the default browser. Here's an image of Avast tricking you into installing Chrome: http://imgur.com/hNZLbmL

I've had to fix this for three family members previously as they were using a free antivirus and couldn't figure out why their browser looked different and didn't have an ad-blocker now.

I'm actually kinda glad that Windows 10 forces the user to be very explicit when changing the default browser. Yeah, they use it to push Edge, of course. Better than programs changing it without the user knowing.

Exactly. Though I wouldn't be surprised if Chrome finds a way around it. Chrome adds itself pinned to the taskbar as it installs even though Microsoft guidelines explicitly forbid it and it is purposely a little difficult to do.

Just to clarify, did you mean that pinning something to the taskbar is a little difficult, or did I misunderstand? It is very simple to pin something to the taskbar, requiring only one right click and one left click. That's why I thought maybe I misunderstood your question. I was just curious. And I completely agree it's stupid the Chrome doesn't even respect Microsoft developer guidelines. It's normal behavior for Chrome or any other Shmoogle crapware lol!

If they found a way around it, Microsoft would patch it out, certainly. But I doubt it.

Chrome was the first app I saw that found the technical way around to force taskbar pinning. Microsoft, sadly, didn't patch that out.

I think they must have recently fixed this, in Win 10 Pro at least. I installed Win 10 Pro yesterday, then Chrome and it did not automatically pin itself. Actually, if I remember correctly it even had a message at one point during the install describing how to pin it.

It is fairly easy to disable this functionality. I have seen at least one app do this already.


Ironic that this comment highlights another annoying Google thing. Looks like a link to Google.com but it's an amp page.

Why is it ironic that a company that does one thing that annoys you also does another thing that annoys you?

As scummy as those installs are, it highlights Google's killer advantage: money. It generates so much cash from advertising that it can pay any company for more distribution (even Firefox!), which in turn generates more cash... Unstoppable until anti-trust kicks in.

In addition to Chrome's bundling deals which override your default browser settings, major Windows updates now appear to reset your default browser to Edge every time.

Does this actually happen? I recently installed the big Windows 10 "Creators update" and my default browser remained exactly the same (Chrome), or is this something that depends on what "tier" of Windows 10 you have?

I remember this unfortunately happening on Windows 7/8 upgrades to 10, but I've yet to encounter it on my personal machine in a Win 10 point release, at least as far as I can recall.

Oddly enough, Windows 10 Pro seems to leave my default browser alone most of the time (I do seem to recall it messing with it once, but I may be wrong), but I've had it attempt to switch my default media viewers away from VLC and Irfanview multiple times. Quite annoying.

That is because they still haven't fully adopted "new" file format association APIs (introduced with Windows 7).

Likely related to the feeling that Windows 10 resets file associations is that Windows 10 changed the way this data is stored and restores the default value if the registry keys are manipulated directly.[1] As a side-note, I don't think any of the major updates have reset my browser choice, but I have gotten an irritating pop-up suggesting that I should try Edge.

[1] https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20170517-00/?p=...

I know lots of settings get reset when you get new Insider builds. It annoyed me constantly. Perhaps OP is on those?

Yep. This is super-scummy behavior. No surprise Google and Microsoft engage in it!

But that's not fair, Google's already paid for that install! ;)

Ahhhh I was wondering why my desktop suddenly started opening links in Edge!

Isn't that in direct opposition to their EU antitrust settlement? How does MS get away with this?

I'm actually wondering more how Google is getting away with those screenshots from the submission. That's exactly the same behavior that it was recently fined for wrt product search.

One reason might be that EU doesn't have many browser vendors who would put in a official complaint.

Why wouldn't MS complain? If MS can be good for anything, helping keep Google in check ranks #1 on my list.

They reached a deal last year to stop complaining to regulators about each other:


This should be proof of illegal collusion and grounds for a gigantic fine for each of them. It's just like the no-poaching agreement they got in trouble with a few years ago.

That would require the US to have a functioning justice department.

IANAL, but I think that would count as "compelling speech" ("You MUST complain to regulators about each other!") which is explicitly forbidden in the States (not sure about Europe, but I think it's the same).

We're not talking about individuals here, we're talking about corporations. Collusion between companies for the sake of negatively affecting the market (such as establishing a cartel) is illegal in any jurisdiction with proper, functioning laws. As I mentioned before, this is similar to the no-poaching agreement which they got into trouble (not nearly enough though) before.

Lobbying and corruption ? At the very least they have friends at the right places.

That was my first thought from those screenshots as well. They are the dominant web portal for the world with more views than Facebook. Their position gives them a crazy advantage in the browser wars.

Firefox pulling ahead of IE back in the early 2000s was a sign of open source disruption taking on a monopoly:


Chrome is the total opposite; well at least initially. They pumped millions into Mozilla and then took the parts they liked from Gecko and Webkit and created Chrome. Originally closed source, even though we have the open source Chromium today, most people used the official Google branded and integrated version.

I feel like with Microsoft and IE and the anti-trust cases from back in the day, we're see a return to what the author termed web browser 'monoculture.' The author does make a point that at least Chrome isn't stuck in the past.

Chrome, FireFox and Edge all seem to be doing the rolling release thing today, which is vital to us not getting stuck in IE6 land again. (Not sure if Safari does this yet). I've recently started using Vivaldi, but I do miss my dedication to Firefox and all the years of usage, plugins and bug reports.

They probably only do it outside of EU.

Good grief.

If I remember, wasn't the version installed by Avast a custom chromium fork until relatively recently? Then there was some security issue, and google basically stop the AV's to knock it off? I think Comodo also did something like this too, though theirs was more of a mess, because Comodo.

EDIT: Found it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11057532

Sometimes. The screenshot I showed was when Avast specifically offered me Chrome. Not the Comodo Chrome knockoff. Avast offers up different things at different times depending on who is paying what. Chrome has been bundleware with a ton of software.

I recall even the standalone flash installer coming with Chrome bundled (or at least pushing for it) at one point.

Indeed, I'll never forget how my first exposure to Chrome came as a result of updating Flash and finding that it had not only installed Chrome, but set it as my default browser. That was the day that I began weaning myself off of Google services (still don't know if I'll ever make it off of Gmail, though...).

The irony is that Chrome bundles (Pepper) Flash, so a Firefox user would download the Flash installer, which downloads the NPAPI Flash plugin, Chrome, and Chrome's Pepper Flash plugin. The NPAPI Flash plugin would be downloaded but never used after the Flash installer changed the user's default browser to Chrome.

Flash is now significantly broken on Firefox under Ubuntu anyway (Bugzilla #1374559) and it's been classified as a wontfix (P5), so continuing the irony, downloading Chrome is probably closer to what the user wanted to do.

> closer to what the user wanted to do

This happened years and years ago, and it wasn't long after that I decided that I didn't want Flash installed on my computer ever again. :P Sad that Shumway didn't manage to pan out, though.

I got off Gmail back around 2013. Unfortunately it's made my e-mail even more unreliable than back when I uses Google's shitty e-mail service:


The hardest part about switching from Gmail is simply the time it takes to migrate all your accounts over to the new address.

Some providers offer a switching service though.

My three email providers don't (Kolab, Posteo, Autistici) but the few hours I spent changing my email addresses everywhere was worth it.

Gmail really doesn't offer anything you'll miss once you make the switch.

Yahoo mail is unlimited, has a sane folder structure, and in spite of the fear-mongering, is less likely to be attacked than GMail nowadays.

AVG also started doing this recently. I get a lot calls from family members and friends who aren't tech-savvy and can't differentiate between browsers. They think their "bookmarks" disappeared but the true reason is Chrome was bundled with something (e.g. AVG) and replaced Firefox as default browser. I called AVG on twitter but their answer was just typical PR BS: "We're sorry for your inconvenience. Please remember that you can opt-out from this". Yeah, they have clean hands because they put very small checkbox in very small font in installer.

While I don't agree with the technique, I would certainly not call it "tricking". Especially in your example, where it very clearly (more than most) describes what will happen if the boxes remain checked. People who blindly click "next", "ok", or "continue" buttons are tricking themselves, not being tricked. Especially when dealing with "free" software.

If the title of the page was "Would you also like to install Chrome and make it your default browser?" with a Yes and No button, then it wouldn't be a trick. Instead, the title of the page is "Complete your Avast program update" and the button is "Continue". Then, in very small letters in the lower left, it says what it's really going to do. This design is called a dark pattern and it is quite literally designed to trick you while remaining technically legal and "upfront" about what it is doing.

Yes, it is less scummy than burying it in an EULA and giving the user basically no notice, but it is still really scummy.

Does anyone know why they do this? Do they earn some extra money per each Chrome install or something like that?

Google is paying the app makers for the bundleware per install.

When other companies are doing this, we're usually pretty quick to call it by a different name: spyware, malware.

Bundleware makes it sound like it's just some innocent "bloat", while in reality this effectively hijacks all web traffic of innocent users and sends it to Google.

How is this not criminal?

As a web developer, I'm actually quite fine with this. Considering your family members probably fall under the "potential IE users" category.

All of them were using an up-to-date copy of Firefox previously with ad and tracker blocking configured with exceptions for their financial sites and with Flash configured to automatically update via Windows service as well.

It is frightening that as a web developer you lack the comprehension of why a single dominant browser is quite bad for the web. Have considered a career change, maybe growing vegetables is something you'd be good at.

I think the parent is saying that's it preferable to IE being that one single browser.

And honestly, your reply was childish and and a bit douche-bag-ish.

There's no need for this here - (I assume) we're all adults, and don't need to resort to playground tactics.

(If you actually are under 16, then I take the above and I'm sorry - welcome to HN!)

I think the "Why?" section's conclusions are off the mark. It basically blames Google's advertising of Chrome for Firefox's decline, and even goes so far as to say "Firefox’s decline is not an engineering problem."

While I don't doubt that Google's advertising of Chrome has drawn away some Firefox users, I also don't think that we can ignore or deny the many controversial changes to Firefox that have likely had an impact, too.

Just off of the top of my head I can think of things like:

* Frequent breakage of extensions when first switching to the more rapid release schedule.

* Frequent and disruptive UI changes that didn't bring users much benefit, such as Australis.

* Removing the ability to easily disable JavaScript.

* Taking many years to get multiprocess support working. (Not that I'm suggesting they should have rushed it, of course.)

* The inclusion of Pocket and Hello.

* Sponsored tiles.

* Users who report experiencing poor performance and high memory usage.

* Disruption caused by requiring signed extensions.

* The removal of support for OSes or OS releases that are moderately older, but still do have active users.

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting.

Even if they seem minor, those are the kinds of things that can cause users to switch away from Firefox, or not even start using it in the first place. Losing a small number of users for a variety of minor reasons can add up very quickly, as well. Furthermore, those issues don't really have anything to do with Google or Chrome.

From my experience, the reasons why people switched to Chrome have been because it renders pages much smoother and everything generally looks better. These were the original reasons that they moved over to Firefox from IE as well. I personally helped a number of relatives and friends make these switches.

Late last year, after many years on Chrome, I gave Firefox another serious look and I have switched back. Firefox has improved tremendously and I would prefer to give my support to Mozilla from a philosophical standpoint (the Chrome team does a lot of good work with regards to pushing forward the features of the web and its security but at the end of the day, Chrome is still a strategic piece of Google's business machine and not a philanthropic effort)

While I have my reasons for using Firefox, I don't see a compelling reason for most users already happy with Chrome to switch back. The average web user that I know doesn't really understand where web browsers come from and isn't very interested in learning about it. They just care whether the browser runs better or worse for the tasks that they do. (Except many still hate IE and will not even try Edge because the logo looks similar enough - that's a branding issue that Microsoft has)

What irritates me now are more and more sites that only work with Chrome (where they literally throw up a page that blocks access and says go download Chrome). These are sites that are not Google properties so I'm not blaming Google for this bad behavior, but again, I would like to support the diverse browser landscape that has existed to this point. I guess my main complaint to Google is to please stop popping up dialogs about Chrome across all of your properties. The browser I'm using works perfectly fine thank you, and you should be supporting the open web with your products anyway.

For me the compelling features of Firefox over chrome are

* better search/address bar behaviour (particularly in finding relevant bookmarks. Chrome wants to turn everything into a Google search)

* Integration with Firefox on android (which I need because it supports ad-blocking extensions)

Definitely agree with the address bar, I'll add a few:

* Being able to disable unnecessary features and phoning home using about:config is great

* Extensions look and feel more native (this will probably change because Mozilla has decided that cloning Chrome is the way to go)

* Extensions are more capable, still no decent side tabs in Chrome

* They're not an ad agency, so they don't ban extensions they don't like or nag you when you install something unapproved

* Font rendering manages to not look terrible

I'll admit though, Chrome still kills Firefox on UI speed and in many security technology ways. My biggest worry is that Mozilla will fail to achieve Chrome UI speed while ditching the things that make Firefox unique today.

It's quite hard to find any relevant setting in about:config.

Extensions used to be more capable, this is about to end. Decent side tabs in chrome is called vivaldi, (actually a decent chrome is vivaldi).

Mozilla effectively bans extensions they don't like since the made signed extensions mandatory.

I disagrre on the speed and performance difference, with 150+ tabs opened at all times firefox works while chrome struggle to deal with 50 tabs. All this on a core i5 16GB RAM SSD laptop. I guess YMMV here.

Vivaldi seems like more of the same, sends statistics information with no way to disable it. On Firefox, all of that is in about:config and easily copied around as user.js.

> Mozilla effectively bans extensions they don't like since the made signed extensions mandatory.

Not true. They sign very liberally and you can even host signed extensions for your own users exclusively without listing them on addons.mozilla.org at all.

That doesn't help, when you really needed an unsigned extension, or at least signed with your own key (and enroll your own key to firefox installation).

For example, FreeIPA used to have an extension, that configured Firefox to your own domain (enrolled an root signing certificate, configured trusted domains for GSSAPI, etc. - all the dangerous things). But because the extension was customized for your own domain, obviously, it could not be signed.

So, it was killed instead. Nowadays, you get a list of steps, you have to do by hand. On every desktop.

Getting an extension reviewed can take months. They periodically publish how many have been in the queue for over 10 days, but they otherwise dont say how long the tail is. It's long.

I started using Vivaldi after struggling with slowdowns in Firefox. Even with the new multi-processor window support enabled, my browser still frequently slowed to a crawl.

I miss some of the extensions of Firefox and Vivaldi does have some interesting bugs, however development on Vivaldi seems rapid. Recently they finally combined the web page inspector into the browser (it use to open a separate window).

I've loved Firefox for years and would honestly rather use it, but the performance problems turned me away.

I switched away from firefox once they announced they were moving to the Chrome extension model (and thereby sank their "better extensions" selling point.)

they expanded the API so it's way less limited than chrome extensions. I don't understand how that's not known by folks who read HN at this point.

Sure. But in practice everyone is just going to make extensions that are compatible with "all" the browsers, and there are developers who have simply decided not to rewrite their firefox extensions.


doubtful, otherwise folks woudldn't have spent so much time on stuff like sqlitebrowser and other bits.

It is less limited than chrome extensions API, but still way more limited than the old API. Still no Tree Style Tabs or DownThemAll!.

There's a Tree Style Tabs-like WebExtension. It has a few quirks, though. It runs in the sidebar. It doesn't hide the top tabs (though you can do this with Stylish). It has its own menu for tabs which does not include some options (like send tab to device).

There was a very good non-nested side-tabs extension in Firefox Test Pilot, but it has expired.

Tab Center (the extension from Test Pilot that expired) is not an WebExtension. It is a classic extension that will stop working in FF56.

Yes, I'm using it ;)

Try Pale Moon, it's great.

They are keeping the current Extension model.

However long that will last. They are already considering rebasing on a newer Firefox codebase for their UXP plans.

Quoted below is from Pale Moon roadmap [0]

Long-term plans

Our long-term plans for Pale Moon involve (potentially) moving our browser to the UXP (Unified XUL Platform) that is currently being worked on alongside the browser. This will at its earliest be somewhere in 2018.


Pale Moon supports NPAPI plug-ins. Unlike Firefox, we will not be deprecating or removing support for these kinds of plug-ins. This means that you will be able to continue using your media, authentication, and other plug-ins in Pale Moon like Flash, Silverlight, bank-authenticators or networking plug-ins for specific purposes.

[0]: https://www.palemoon.org/roadmap.shtml

the address bar behaviour on chrome is so obnoxious! i can never find stuff that is on my history -- with firefox, couple of keywords and i can find almost anything.

Is this also the case with vivaldi ?

I miss opera where it would also search in page content from cache, not only URL or title.

Sadly it seems that Vivaldi, for now at least, only search the url and title.

the address bar behavior is actually inferior to what opera offered back when it was a browser.

>These aren't Google properties so I'm not blaming them for this bad behavior,

No, they should very much be blamed for it! Proper web design should follow cross-platform standards and implementations. They are part of the problem if they force users to choose one or the other.

I think he means he's not blaming Google for the behavior of other website owners.

Yep, sorry poor grammar there. I've edited so hopefully it's clearer now.

Proper web design should follow cross-platform standards and implementations.

To be blunt: says who?

A lot of people and most organisations aren't making websites as a charitable exercise. They're doing it with a goal in mind, such as bringing in money directly or indirectly, or raising awareness of a cause they care about.

Whatever that end goal is, they need to use the web to communicate effectively with their visitors. If those visitors are mostly using one particular browser and they can achieve better progress towards their end goal by optimising for that browser, that is what a lot of them are going to do.

I don't think this is necessarily healthy for the long term future of the World Wide Web, but I also don't think it's reasonable to blame people with a job to do for choosing the most effective tools available to do that job.

> people with a job to do

No such thing. A job, like an order, is not something that actually exists outside of the actions of people. Both the people giving orders and the ones following them remain responsible. They can pretend to leave the court room by dozing off but they remain in it for those who haven't, and what you seem to see as "putting blame" is simply pointing out what is already present and cannot be removed.

This is a very short sighted decision, apart from technical demo, designing a website to only work with a specific browser is actually costly, doesn't last and significantly limits your reach.

It's 2017, the era of evergreen browsers and living standards. As much as you or I may wish otherwise, anything built for the web today may not last and may have significantly limited reach within a matter of months. Every major browser developer has shown a willingness to cut off established functionality, even things that have worked for many years, if its suits their purposes. (Either that or they've abandoned older, non-evergreen browsers more or less completely.) The only standards that matter in web development today are the de facto standards of what the browsers actually do, just like the bad old days of IE vs. Netscape.

As I said before, this might well be bad for the long term future of the World Wide Web as a resource for society, but in this business you have to play the hand you're dealt, and the browser developers hold all the important cards.

Somehow it seems you live in a quite different world than I do or maybe I didn't understand what you meant here.

Those still work in every browsers I've tried so the major browsers developer have to cut more established functionality: https://justinjackson.ca/words.html http://motherfuckingwebsite.com/

Firefox is the inferior product.

I use firefox because I want a browser to exist that isn't hellbent on knowing exactly who I am in order to maximize profits.

Are you aware that mozilla actually ran on money from google out of using firefox to tell them exactly who you are in order to get a share of the maximized profits ?

I downvoted you because what you said is extremely misleading. Mozilla had a contract with Google to use them as the default search engine. They didn't "tell them exactly who you are..."

Are you trying to tell me that people at mozilla are not aware that google can tell who you are with an impressive degree of precision based on your usage of google search engine ?

Mozilla is not telling google obviously because they don't know who you are. But it's a technicality as they enable and empoyer google to do it by themselves, in exchange for millions of dollars. For a few years over 95% of mozilla revenue in millions of dollars came from google for exposing their user privacy while most users were not aware of this and mozilla boasting being a white knight for privacy.

Then when they finally decided to do something about it, the chose to help yahoo artificially inflate their usage stats to improve the value in the upcoming sale, but only in the US where they had lost the most marketshare, in Europe where firefox was still relevant and where there are alternatives that actually respect user privacy mozilla chose to keep google as the default search engine.

While technically true, using Google as your default search engine goes a long way to that goal.

Chrome uses Google as default search too though.

I wasn't aware that Mozilla shares every single web page you visit with Google. Do you have a source?

AFAIK they don't. Firefox phones home to mozilla and according to this comment has about 20 default settings phoning home to google[1].

But my point was simply about directing users' searchs to google search engine, which is enough to expose yourself to google.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14809837

Of course they don't; it's not true.

>What irritates me now are more and more sites that only work with Chrome (where they literally throw up a page that blocks access and says go download Chrome).

Any example of this?. Because I've never visited such a site.

Inbox during the Beta.

WhatsApp during the Beta.

Signal's desktop client.

Google Earth.

Google Translate works, but has 3 helpful dialogs telling you to install Chrome.

Google Search on Mobile Firefox is heavily restricted in functionality, and tells to install Chrome.

Under some situations, Google will replace the first 4 search results and replace them with a "your browser is outdated, install Chrome" while also adding a top bar saying the same, and a dialog at the top right.

Chrome font rendering on Windows is still broken. Fonts that look find everywhere else are different in Chrome and usually look worse. Why?!

I don't know the exact reason why, but it probably has to do with the fact that Edge and Firefox both use Direct2D for rendering and DirectWrite for text, while Chrome uses Skia (which can call into DirectWrite or GDI for text rendering I believe, but may not do so in the exact same way).

Skia is now the default on firefox/windows when direct2d isn't available.


What does that actually means in practice? I'm guessing the only time you actually get skia is when running in a pretty old hypervisor environment or on a server/BMC without hardware acceleration.

Which IMHO, having your application _LOOK_ different depending on hardware acceleration capabilities is sorta stupid.

> Which IMHO, having your application _LOOK_ different depending on hardware acceleration capabilities is sorta stupid.

Which is one of the reasons I transitioned from liking Web back into loving native development (there are plenty of other reasons though).

Doing discussions with customers about pixel differences across browsers, specially if it is the same browser on different OSes, is anything but fun.

That and the request for features and behaviors only possible in native UIs.

Should file a bug, though.

direct2d ? is that a thing on linux ?

No. Firefox uses skia on both Linux and macOS.

Linux is arguably worse. For whatever reason, Chrome absolutely refuses to display some unicode fonts (that are installed and render fine in Firefox). CJK and other Asian fonts seem to be worst in this regard.

> more sites that only work with Chrome (where they literally throw up a page that blocks access and says go download Chrome).

Any specific examples of this? A URL, or a couple of them?

When making such an assertion, it would be nice to minimally provide a way for others to see for themselves.

Only time I've encountered something like this was OK GO's All Is Not Lost music video released in 2011, it came with a warning that you could skip but then the performance were so bad you could not enjoy it.

it was available at http://www.allisnotlo.st/ but now features an error message about google dropping python 2.5

For me, the deal breaker for Firefox was Youtube full-screen playback performance. On my old Core 2 Duo E6600 machine, Youtube stuttered playing 1080p videos while it didn't on Chrome.

I'd be surprised if any of those, up to the last three, was a big deal for more than 1% or so of users. And I am inclined to think the original article probably has it right about simple saturation marketing as the cause of most user switching.

But performance. Firefox very often outperforms Chrome in microbenchmarks and computationally-intensive code in my tests, but in the real world an awful lot of sites really are much more responsive in Chrome.

For me as a user, most recently an update to the FastMail web UI a couple of weeks ago made it lamentably slow in Firefox -- just mousing over the folder tree caused CPU spikes and lag in updating -- and in the end I switched to opening FastMail in a separate Chrome instance while continuing to use Firefox for everything else. I've just switched it back to Firefox as I type this, to see whether anything has improved.

The web app I'm working on as a developer just now also has problems updating as smoothly in Firefox as in Chrome, and I'm not at all sure whether we'll be able to do anything about it.

I can't think of an example at the moment of a site that feels faster in Firefox.

I believe I have come to think of Firefox as a web browser, and Chrome as a platform for web apps. Things written to be web apps are almost always more responsive in Chrome, even though many of their components (number-crunching work) really do run measurably quicker in Firefox.

I use Firefox (Linux) and Fastmail, and definitely don't have any problems: the web UI is just as fast as always and have no CPU issues. Maybe it's some addon or something?

Can definitely be due to addons. That innocuous Emoji keyboard addon [1] for example, caused horrible page load performance and unresponsiveness (due apparently to parsing the entire DOM in order to replace/insert emojis); filed a bug at [2]. Hope the move to WebExtensions lets Mozilla provide less opportunities for extension developers to shoot users in the foot.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/emoji-keyboar...

[2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1339822

>hope the move to WebExtensions lets Mozilla provide less opportunities for extension developers to shoot users in the foot.

If there are firefox users left to shoot.

I think you're right about this one. Sorry about that. It seems to have started interacting badly with Ghostery -- which I had been using for years, but which did have an update recently as well. I tried a different ad-blocker and it's been a lot quicker since.

I think I jumped to conclusions because the change roughly coincided with a visible update to FastMail (the one that added the little progress spinners to the folder tree).

I'll add, for the record, that simply trusting the site in Ghostery appears to be enough to speed it up again.

(My earlier post lost a couple of HN points after I posted that reply, even though it was many hours after the original discussion. I wonder whether people had upvoted it because of potentially useful material about Firefox and FastMail and then unvoted when I admitted that particular bit was bogus. It would be rather encouraging if that were the case)

Later edit: I spoke too soon. After editing an email extensively, the whole UI slows down again.

Yeah me too - and even the last three(perf/mem, extension breakage, and OS support) are partially questionable - FF has essentially always been better behaved in low-memory scenarios that chrome; and desktop OS support is (again, to this day) better that chrome's. Even XP still has FF 52 ESR support up to june 2018, and v52 isn't that old yet.

It seems to me like Firefox has a lot of tiny delays everywhere, and they're just long enough to be distracting. It's like going back to a hard disk after having used an SSD.

On the other hand, Firefox Focus on mobile seems to run pretty fast and comes with enough ad blocking to make the web bearable.

If it had either tabs or a way to open multiple processes then I would probably ditch the other mobile browsers.

I love Firefox Focus, but it's not suitable for your main mobile browser. What it is is a substitute for Chrome Custom Tabs.

Full Firefox on Android has a slow startup time if it's been pushed out of memory, which it usually is, because it's big. Firefox Focus is a way of quickly opening links from other apps without paying the cost of opening Firefox, while keeping an acceptable level of ad-blocking and privacy.

You should have both installed, set Focus as your default browser, but liberally use the "Open in Firefox" menu on Focus when you have real browsing to do.

I switched to Chrome in ~2011 or 2012 after being a Firefox user and evangelist since... was the first one Phoenix or Firebird? Anyway, that one.


- Firefox got bogged down with just a few tabs open, and caused beachballs (OSX/macOS) systemwide. Chrome was snappier and didn't harm my system's overall responsiveness with several times as many tabs open. This was the main reason.

- Dev tools. Liked Chrome's better.

- Profile handling was, at the time anyway, better.

- IIRC Firefox didn't do per-tab crashing at the time, while Chrome did, which aided overall stability.

Advertising had nothing to do with it. Chrome was just way, way better, especially its (apparent, which is mostly what matters) resource footprint.

Now I'm mostly on Safari, even though it's the worst mainstream browser, just because I gain 1-2hrs of battery life using it over Chrome or Firefox.

> Dev tools. Liked Chrome's better.

They definitely are. To this day I'm baffled I'm not sent to the debugger when clicking a line reference in the console.

But I still use Firefox as main browser. Since the pages I visit and the pages I develop are always in different places it's pretty easy to have one browser for development only.

For a while, Firefox was crashing Linux as well, probably from some accelerated graphics bug. (It used to happen sometimes when ArsTechnica would play an ad, for example.)

Whichever version of Ubuntu introduced pulseaudio crashed any time Flash was used on a website, often in ads. May have been that. I mean, Pulseaudio crashed xwindow (or just stopped working) all the time in that version, but Flash was the easiest way to kill it.

I switched to Chrome around that time too, for many of the same reasons (mainly performance and stability).

I've since switched back because Chrome is a terrible memory hog and I can have tons of tabs open on Firefox with no impact on performance (as long as I don't actually load them), and I don't have problems with crashing the way I used to.

Chrome recently introduced some changes to background tabs (to a bit of grumbling from sites that wanted to use background resources/service workers):


And also - they're aggressively throttling background tabs:

http://blog.strml.net/2017/01/chrome-56-now-aggressively-thr... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13471543

I'm on Chrome Canary - and there's been noticeable improvements in memory/responsive wise for a few months now.

I have around 320+ tabs open, spread over 2 Chrome profiles (around 160 per profile).

Yahoo as the default search engine didn't help, either.

Firefox is about to shoot itself in the foot again. Soon, all old add-ons will stop working, as Firefox tries to get add-on developers to change to their new WebExtensions API. (Which is almost, but not quite, compatible with Google's add-on format.) Many developers are not bothering, and will drop Firefox.

Yep, I'll be limping along on the "old" version of Firefox so that I can use Tree Style Tabs, which can't be made compatible with the new extension framework. And my startup may or may not update our own Firefox extension this year. We're waiting to see how things shake out — how many people update to the latest version of Firefox, or whether folks are tied to the old version because they have so many legacy extensions.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-tabs/ use the new extension api AFAIK. Seems you have to go through some hoops to hide the regular tabbar though.

Unfortunately it draws its own context menu which looks very ugly, doesn't behave native and interferes with dom.event.contextmenu.enabled=false.

Well if you decide to stick with an older version of Firefox, you might just as well stick with PaleMoon instead. At least it's still getting some new features and security fixes.

Would love more details!

I suggest that you switch over to development for Pale Moon. There are lots of positives behind it, and all that I've heard is that they have no plan at the moment to switch over to WebExtensions.

I second switching to Pale Moon.

Someone has forked Tree Style Tabs so that it works with latest Pale Moon.

The testpilot program from mozilla has a beta test for sidebar tabs. This is still not tree, but can be a decent alternative if you need tree style tabs to reclaim screen real-estate.

The sidebar tabs testpilot extension is also not a WebExtension, so it will stop working at the same time as TreeStyleTabs.

Tab Center Redux <https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-center-re... is a fork of the testpilot extension that is a WebExtension, so it works fine in Firefox Nightly. It's naturally more limited than the original extension, though: it can't hide the top tab-bar, it has to draw its own context-menu, it can't be shown at the same time as any other sidebar, etc.

It's still nicer than the top tab-bar for those of us with a bunch of tabs open, though.

Tab Center (the extension for sidebar tabs from testpilot) is already down, with no replacement. For existing users, it will stop working with FF56.

Yup, I fear for the future of tree style tabs. So much so, I am developing an alternative browser that embeds Chromium but has a tree-style tab interface from Qt [0] (disclaimer, nowhere near ready yet).

0 - https://github.com/cretz/doogie

Looks interesting!

It was the only choice.

Set your User-Agent to Firefox or IE Edge and Windows OS. You'll soon see "install chrome" pop ups/banners/warnings that take up a portion of the screen all over Google properties.

At that point why not just self-uninstall?

Out of non-Google search engines, Yahoo makes most sense even if they got no money from the deal. Maybe DuckDuckGo but unfortunately it's still not as good.

Regarding extensions, it's better this way because nobody is bothering with current API. Most new extensions are chrome-only.

yahoo as the default search engine is the same as google as the default search engine. It is a matter of money and selling to the highest bidder, though the move away from google was probably motivated by chrome marketshare.

This is a US only move, in the EU it's still google and mozilla got a truckload of criticism for this.

They do need to make money in some way, ever since Google didn't renew their contract with Mozilla (which iirc was 98% of their revenue back in the day) after Chrome started taking off.

Mozilla actually moved to Yahoo not because Google refused to renew their contract, but because Yahoo was flush with cash and desperate to gain any foothold at all in search engine share (which they did, briefly; a friend of mine at Google had the job of getting Firefox users to switch their default search back to Google). Yahoo just offered better terms than Google at the time.

It's mozilla who didn't renew with google in the US, because yahoo needed to appear better for negotiating their price tag and made a better offer.

Honestly, as a firefox die-hard who finally gave up, all of those issues were dwarfed by the performance one. The only one I even bothered to config away was the search-engine change.

I stopped using firefox because of performance. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was the extension signing that caused me to move on. I had written several small, but useful, extensions for my own personal use. I knew they were harmless, yet Firefox made it difficult for me to actually use them.

If I'm remembering this right, I think there was initially an about:config option for disabling the signature checks. But that was eventually removed from the stable releases. The workarounds were to waste my time getting the extensions signed, or to use some special unbranded build, or to use the Nightly or Developer Edition releases. None of those were acceptable to me. Then I learned about the planned WebExtensions changes, and knew it was time to move on.

I'm aware of the security-related reasons that were used to justify such changes. But for me they ended up taking away the main benefits that Firefox offered, namely being easy to extend, and giving me the freedom to use the browser as I see fit.

Firefox developer edition allows using unsigned webextensions by toggling xpinstall.signatures.required to false in about:config

waterfox allows unsigned extensions.

It seems to me disabling the xpinstall.signatures.required setting has no effect anymore, at least the last time I tried using it, it had no effect.

Firefox developer edition is the former Aurora (development) channel. It is not the stable release channel.

You could use the unbranded builds. They build them specifically for your use case. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing#Unbranded...

FWIW, developer edition is now the Beta channel.

It's not labeled as stable, that does not mean it is unstable.

IMO it is really shortsighted to treat your best users and evangelists so poorly. This is the absolute creme de la creme of your user base- they should be pandered to, not locked out.

Mozilla seems to have gotten infected by the same paternalism that is riding the likes of Gnome into the ground.

Something I could never quite understand. I'm using Firefox but occasionally run Chrome for a few minutes. I do have a couple of extensions installed in Firefox. To me, Chrome might be faster, or maybe not. But honestly, I couldn't care less: even if Firefox takes a second, or two or even three more to show me a page sometimes, so what? I mean, two seconds? I guess I can wait that long, even if I look at tens of websites each day (which I'm not even sure I do).

If somebody gave me a Ferrari for free with the caveat that there's a guy sitting on the passengers seat who keeps track of where I'm going at all times, I guess I'd still keep driving my current car (hint: it's not a Ferrari).

And before the downvote reflex sets in in some of you: I'm not saying that you should be like me. If you like Chrome, great, good for you! It's just that the speed difference to me personally has never been a good enough reason to switch. YMMV.

Are you saying that you only look at 10s of websites or 10s of pages? As a (frontend or full-stack) web developer you end up looking at many 100s of page views a day, and those extra seconds matter. Both in maintaining a semblance of flow, and in real cumulative time. I switched to Chrome the very first time I tried it, very soon after it was released, and never looked back because it made me happier and more productive.

That's exactly why I wrote "YMMV" and put a big focus on stressing that this is how things work for me. I'm not a web developer and so my usage pattern is certainly much different from yours (if you are one).

I'm glad to hear that you found a web browser that makes you happy. So have I.

The problem is that when you get more and more tabs going, Firefox's single-threadedness becomes more and more painful. When one misbehaving tab locks up (or crashes) the whole browser, that's bad.

This has been fixed. Firefox is now fully multi-process on all release channels.

Unless you have an add on that isn't compatible, like the one that ubuntu for some reason bundles with the browser out of the box.

It looks like the development of that extension stopped in 2014 but it's still bundled with Firefox in Ubuntu https://packages.ubuntu.com/search?keywords=xul-ext-ubufox

That could explain why it doesn't support multiprocessing. I disabled it because it doesn't do much. This is a list of its functionality from https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/what-are-the-ubuntu-firefox-...

* Enable searching for missing plugins from Ubuntu software catalog

* Add the following options to the Help menu

Get help on-line

Help translating Firefox

Ubuntu Release Notes

* Set homepage to Ubuntu Start Page

* Display a restart notification after upgrading Firefox

* Add ask.com to the search engines. You can uninstall this if you prefer to use a pristine Firefox install.

I hate it when people who know how to disable them don't do it and complain about it. It is really Ubuntu's fault for bundling an addon that is not compatible with multiprocesses.

I have lots of tabs open all the time, it's not really an issue for me most of the time. But it's true that every now and then it happens that something goes wrong and CPU consumption in Firefox stays way up. (I blame plugins/extensions though.) In such a case, I don't mind killing the process and restarting Firefox to remedy that.

It is similar to Chromes memory usage, add one tab after another and you will hit memory wall pretty fast (100 tabs?), with firefox 1000 tabs is not a problem.

That's why I switched back from Chrome after using it for a month few years ago.

Now I would switch because Chrome is the new IE, some developers don't test on Firefox, they say "just use Chrome", no WAY.

Firefox is now a multiprocess browser.

Firefox is multiprocess now.

I find it uses probably 50% of the memory that Chrome does in my typical use-cases as well (4-5 windows open with around 10-20 tabs in each).

Why run Chrome at all then? What's wrong with Opera, Iridium or even Chromium?

I think majority of people just use Chrome because they either don't know better or because when it came out, it was legitimately a cooler more innovative browser than Firefox at the time.

Only very few people need a few extra codecs that Chrome provides or maybe the bundled Flash plugin.

I just tried on two popular websites, espn.com and cnn.com, and Firefox was slower to first paint on both, noticeably. No extensions installed on Firefox but a few on Chrome. It's slower.

Maybe I wasn't quite clear with what I've been trying to say: even when Firefox is slower, it does not matter to me.

If it took a minute to render, it would matter. If it's a matter of a few seconds, it doesn't.

That's fine, but I wonder if that carries over to most people. There have been plenty of studies that suggest perceivable slowness has a large effect on user engagement. Amazon famously did a study on their website that showed 100ms of latency cost them 1% of sales.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a large percentage of people to whom rendering speed matters. Of course, you'd have to have some frame of reference: if you've never experienced Chrome's faster rendering times, you might not think of Firefox as being particularly slow.

However, I also know that folks like my parents who do not deeply care about IT and performance in general don't really care too much. They do not spend their day in front of the screen like some of us do, but rather look something up once or twice a day. In the greater scheme of things, the difference in rendering times across different browsers doesn't make a measurable difference in their lives.

IIRC there is no significant rendering times differences, there is a perceived difference though. Too bad I don't have the URL of the test but it was featured on HN a little while ago.

Firefox was noticeably faster for me on first paint when I just tried both of those. Caching effects? CDN latency? Some part of the network? Nondeterministic browser behaviors? who knows.

This gut-check test isn't particularly useful.

The point of the OP was

> If somebody gave me a Ferrari for free with the caveat that there's a guy sitting on the passengers seat who keeps track of where I'm going at all times

The price you pay is much higher than you think.

Think twice, you have a choice.

I did both in incognito fwiw, it prevent the caching effect. It's not a thorough study, and I'm not concluding that it is, but i'm not doing a study when picking a browser. I just use it and stuff is slow, that's all I have time to try.

Such anecdotal evidence is invalid. Try the scientific method instead.

> there's a guy sitting on the passengers seat who keeps track of where I'm going at all times

You seem to be implying that Chrome tracks every site that you go to and shares it with Google. Care to cite a source on that?

It is called an "End User License Agreement", most users check the box without reading it. To give Goog some credit, they do tend to state their intent plainly(not legal jargon) in the first couple paragraphs. Of course, sometimes they have to edit/whitewash out the "creepy" aspects.

Edit: link


Perhaps this (under 'Browser History')?


Of course, this can be turned off, but it is very likely to be turned on if a user has set up an Android device (lots of prompts to do so).

This was the big part of why I dumped firefox. Others included pending depreciation of addon apis, screwy behavior with dark gtk themes and unreadable text, issues where video would straight on skip or freeze max headroom style, yahoo partnership, addon signing requirement, failure to add synced reading lists to desktop browser in favor of pushing pocket.

In short screw you too mozilla.

Same here. I read a bit about multi process having arrived, so I'm planning to give ff another try soon. But at least all the electrolysis pre release versions I tried ended up disappointing. It's a real shame, I'd love to switch away from chrome.

have you tried vivaldi ?

It's crowded, there are way too many things I don't need. I prefer getting the flavor of feature I need by choosing an extension.

Firefox nowadays feels every bit as fast as Chrome, if not faster.

Not for me and definitely not on Linux, see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1280523 for example.

Just run it in Wine (currently may not work).

Most people will just use Chrome instead.

Haven't tried it on Linux, just Windows.

The problem Firefox had for a long time was the terrible Flash plugin combined with a lack of per-tab processes. That meant that a single flash element on one page would slow down the entire browser. I removed the flash plugin completely a couple of years ago and havent looked back.

As a fellow Firefox user (writing this on Firefox, btw), I've heard people complain about performance issues all the time with Firefox vs. Chrome... and I've never understood the problem. Firefox with ~20 addons starts up like a charm for me, loads every page I need in moments, and has no problem doing anything I need it to do. Chrome, on the other hand, gums up my machine to the point that just opening a Chromium-based browser usually ends with my machine frozen like an iceberg, me pulling the battery, booting into safe-mode, and uninstalling the product completely.

Same here. I like the idea of Firefox. Every few months I reinstall it and try it for a day or two, and it's always just painfully slow compared to Chrome. In most other respects I actually prefer Firefox, but the other differences are just much less important to me.

Ohh, and the Chrome dev tools are just better. So that helps. But if Firefox weren't noticeably slow I'd use it without hesitation.

If you're willing to spend a bit of time on this, I'd really appreciate a list of at least some of the things that feel slow compared to Chrome when you try to use a current Firefox nightly. It's a lot easier to fix things we know about than things we don't know about. ;)

It must be something subjective or system-dependant then because I switched from Chrome to Firefox for that same reason.

It is totally subjective. Except for the cases where it's accumulated cruft and dubious extensions (adblock plus for example).

Performance is really good with the new multi threaded implementation.

You have forgotten a few, such as dropping alsa and making pulseaudio a hard dependency blaming alsa when actually it was their own implementation that was falling behind and they did not want to fix it.

But the issue here is that mozilla do not listen to user feedback and just push whatever they feel like pushing with an attitude and some hostility towards unhappy users. or as pointed out in the mozillazine forums: they're " making far-reaching and very short-sighted decisions in a vacuum. "

It seems inside mozilla they're convinced that firefox is great and answers users' needs, while users feels that firefox is not that good and getting worse. There's quite a gap between mozilla marketing and the reality, which shows that firefox fails to deliver on its promises.

I'm a Firefox user and quit Chrome for the same reason I stopped using Windows after Windows 7: to keep a bare minimum of privacy when using the internet. Here are a few additions to that list: * Firefox Extensions now must be signed, and there is no workaround, not even one for users willing to delve deeply into settings x,y,z. The rationale for making it difficult to add unsigned extensions is sound, but there is none for making it impossible. * Firefox claims to be privacy-friendly, but they use an identifier when calling home that, along with other data, uniquely identifies the user. Firefox claims that this communication is encrypted, but this is not enough for state actors, and likely not for others. * There are about 20 default settings in Firefox that call home to Google behind the scenes. * All of these settings are incredibly confusing and there is no standard documentation on how any of it works, so even for a technically inclined person it is near-impossible to simply use the browser without spewing your data all over the place- and that's _before_ actually calling up e.g. the NY Times and its 50 trackers, data-miners, beacons, ad networks, social networks, etc. * The shameful treatment of Brendan Eich (creator of JavaScript and co-founder(!)) still rankles.

All that said, it's the least-worst in the browser world, for now. It seems pretty clear that they have some technically brilliant people as well.

Edit: seems that I need to learn how to write lists...

> seems that I need to learn how to write lists...

insert an empty line between each bullet point.

First without an empty line:

* bullet point without empty line between each other * bullet point without empty line between each other

then with an empty line inserted in between:

* bullet point with an empty line between each other

* bullet point with an empty line between each other

Yup, FF has just missed the mark on so many points that Chrome just blows past them. Any JS-heavy web applications (YouTube, HBO Go, Netflix) run like garbage in FF. Switch over to Chrome and they are buttery-smooth. Sucks to say this too as someone who's used FF since its beta.

For me Chrome and Firefox feel the same performance-wise. Are you sure you don't have some add-ons or other changes in your Firefox profile?

Try again from a brand new user account, chances are this issue will go away.

Performance is a big one for me. The Firefox UI feels slower, and every so often it hangs, which is frustrating to no end. When I used Chrome I took speed for granted - something I no longer can with Firefox.

Thank you! As soon as Pocket was "included" and the response to everyone complaining was a politely worded "fuck you" then I removed FF and haven't looked back.

It's understandable they have to find ways to make money, but those experiments alienated users. Once you've started down that path, there's no returning in a lot of users eyes, mine included.

So true. The Mozilla corp lost touch with their users. All early Netscape employees left, now it's official a non-profit but acts like big corp.

Firefox become unusable - shut down Firebug replaced by half-assed new DevTools, removed XUL based API, multi-process support that's still not working like Chrome1+/IE8+, still dog slow, can't handle more than a few tabs, Addons-website got useless as most addons aren't working anymore.

Sad, but Chrome is so much better, and Firefox is digging in a bigger rabbit hole with every new release. Would be great if we keep another open source competing browser around. Servo based browser could be a fresh start, but they need to focus now, in a year it can be too late.

People switch because Chrome is a superior product, just like Internet Explorer was a superior product to Netscape at one time. That's not a concern. The concern is using market position to engage in anti-competitive behavior, like bundling.

People begin to use more IE, becasue lazines and that IE was bundled with Windows. Netscape always was better that IE.

Netscape always was better that IE.

No, it wasn't. Were you there when NS4 came out?

Depends what sites you used.

Compared NN4 and IE4, NN4 was better. Compared to later IEs, IE were better.

Except for IE5 for Mac. That one was weird, it's CSS implementation was best from all the available browsers. But when you opened Slashdot (or another table heavy site), boy, you quickly switched back to Netscape.

Netscape 4 versus IE5 or 6 was pretty bad. They got stalled a few years while rewriting their browser. Firefox was better than IE almost from the very first alpha tests.

Netscape 4 was facing IE4 not IE5 or 6.

firefox was initially named phoenix and it was made as a workaround the performances issue of mozilla suite by removing everything unneeded to run a browser. Except mozilla suite fixed its performance issues way before phoenix was ready for prime time.

True about IE6, but IE5 was already out before Netscape 6 came out. Funny that the real 1.0 for Firefox came years later.

Netscape 6 was the "new one", with Gecko, XUL and stuff.

Firefox itself used to be an alternative - the main browser was Seamonkey, that included mail client, chat client and kitchen sink, just like the original Netscape did. Firefox started later as a lightweight alternative, just the browser.

This is so wrong. People used I.E. because it came bundled with their computer. Source: I was there.

You may have, but that's not why people who used and were fans of Netscape switched to IE voluntarily. While IE was adding CSS support and other consumer friendly features, Netscape was more interested in Communicator, the enterprise suite.

I don't remember fans of netscape switching to IE, though I do remember AOL buying netscape and making a mess of it with netscape 4 development stopped and netscape 5 abandoned.

AOL buying Netscape happened much later, after the war was over.

You're probably right, by the time AOL bought netscape it was a background news to me as I had moved from netscape for a while.

Ah the Mariner debacle.

Those are tech-y reasons that might have repelled tech-y users like us on Hacker News, but the bulk of the market are laymen who don't know the difference between a browser and a search engine on whom marketing is very efficient.

Yea, I've always been a huge fan of (and donor to) Mozilla, but in the last few years, I've been losing some respect for them. Getting embroiled in absurd political snafus, head-in-the-sand analysis of their situation which ignores product quality, etc.

I switched to Chrome a lot later than most of my friends, and actively try to switch to Firefox every once in a while, for literally the last 7 or 8 years. There has yet to be a single time where a couple days of usage didn't reveal the browser as far inferior, in ways that affect my day-to-day life materailly (multiprocess support being the biggest, most basic issue for a long time). I spend a LOT of my time in the browser, and I'm a very heavy user (usually about 100 Chrome tabs open total at any given time, with fairly high turnover). The performance and quality penalty I pay when using Firefox just isn't worth it.

I don't disagree with the article's claim that Google's advertising is having a big effect on a drop in FF usage; it's just bizarre for them to act like this is the only possible reason why people are switching.

> * Frequent breakage of extensions when first switching to the more rapid release schedule.

That's why I switched. It broke most of my extensions every time it upgraded. After the 3rd or 4th time it wasn't worth dealing with anymore. I switched to Chromium and I don't remember it breaking an extension.

I just skipped upgrading firefox, it's broken under debian anyway.

This is my list, all of which Chrome does better than Firefox (roughly related bug reports included):

* Restore the old settings. They copied Chrome's settings-as-a-tab with the UI just being HTML. But in Chrome I can at least search the settings. Why did Mozilla waste their time on copying the HTML-settings without also implemented the most useful feature? It was just a huge regression, because the UI is now non-native, many things aren't resizeable anymore and some other minor bugs where introduced, without any apparent benefit. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1325286

* When you start Firefox two times in a row, the dialog "Firefox is already running, please close the running instance" or something like this pops up. Chrome doesn't have this problem, maybe just because its startup time is SO much better. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=489981

* On Linux: Integrate the tabs into the titlebar like Chrome does. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=513159

* Way too easy to quit the whole browser with Ctrl+Q (Chrome uses Ctrl+Shift+Q) https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=52821

* Encrypt passwords with the keyring (like Chrome does) https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=309807 (btw: that's the second most voted bug of the "Toolkit" product according to https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/page.cgi?id=productdashboard.ht... )

* No hardware acceleration on Linux (playing HD YouTube videos lags for me in Firefox out-of-the-box, perfectly fine in Chrome) https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1280523

* Speed and responsiveness of the UI in general are much better in Chrome. (no bug report link, sorry)

Notice how that there's no complain about the look of the main UI, still Mozilla decides to redo it yet again with project Photon ... Did I miss the bug report with lots of votes for that?

And regarding the bug reports (most of them reported years ago): There was a comment on Reddit a while ago where a GNOME (!) developer said something along the lines "We're not Mozilla, we're actually reading and answering our bug reports". That says something.

> When you start Firefox two times in a row, the dialog "Firefox is already running, please close the running instance" or something like this pops up.

This is actually due to shutdown (rather than startup) being too slow. Your profile is still in use from the instance of Firefox taking too long to shut down, so when you start a new instance it hits this error. This should be a little better with multiprocess, because web pages are run in a separate process, and we kill that process more quickly, so shutdown should be faster.

Also happens on startup for me and others. See for example this comment from the bug report:

I simply double-clicked the Firefox icon twice quicker than I ever normally would, and the Close Firefox error appears: "Firefox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system."

Indeed. This in particular when launching Firefox in response to opening urls from external sources.

Hit two of those quickly and hello dialog...

> When you start Firefox two times in a row, the dialog "Firefox is already running, please close the running instance" or something like this pops up.

On Windows, this only happens if the second instance starts with a specific command-line option (the name escapes me at the moment). Otherwise, the existing instance just opens a new window.

> Speed and responsiveness of the UI in general are much better in Chrome. (no bug report link, sorry)

> Notice how that there's no complain about the look of the main UI, still Mozilla decides to redo it yet again with project Photon ...

Are you seriously askong that?

Firefox is doing Photon (like they were doing Australis) because they're replacing their entire UI framework with a faster one.

Australis was the move from native GTK2 to XUL, Photon is a move from XUL to HTML5 for UI.

Firefox has never had a "native GTK2" UI. Australis was not a move from such a UI.

Photon is not a wholesale move away from XUL either.

While I do agree with a lot of the points:

> * Way too easy to quit the whole browser with Ctrl+Q (Chrome uses Ctrl+Shift+Q)

Saying that it's nitpicky to include this in your list would be huge understatement, it's straight out ridiculous. I have always found Firefox to be more responsive and less resource heavy than Chrome, so I don't know why you had problems with that.

But yes, you are right when you imply that Firefox seems to have prioritization problems, lots of them imo. However, it is understandable to me, making the UI looking prettier is for marketing, not usability. Most of these things you listed are not addressing a lot of users, on the other hand, having a flashier UI would address and (potentially) attract more users. But their management still needs to improve, and as a company, they should have better direction.

> Saying that it's nitpicky to include this in your list would be huge understatement, it's straight out ridiculous.

There's a bug report about it with lots of duplicates and 71 votes. I use Ctrl+W to close tabs, so losing work in other tabs is just one key away. For me, it isn't nitpicky.

> having a flashier UI would address and (potentially) attract more users.

You don't know that though. You think it will attract more users.

You'll need some kind of metric to know what people really want. "Gets often repeated in discussions" is one, "which bug reports get voted on" is another.

I agree although ctrl+shift+q is still suboptimal because ctrl+shift+tab is right next to it.

I don't get why closing the whole window need a shortcut at all.. Doesn't most OSes have a generic hotkey for that?

Edit: I see now that jhasse answered most of this already but I think mine adds some details so I'll leave it here.

I think alt-f4 closes the window while ctrl-q closes down Firefox entirely (in my KDE setup at least.)

On Windows ctrl-q doesn't work for me though.

As for why I sometimes use it it is because I can then do a restore session after restarting Firefox and get back everything.

(On Windows I have to find the now hidden menu and select Quit Firefox or something like that.)

It actually closes all Firefox windows. The generic hotkey for closing one window would be Alt+F4.

I definitely think that this should be handled by the OS though.

Nah, "Disable Ctrl+Q"[1] is one of the three extensions I require to browse the web, alongside uBlock Origin and NoScript. I have no idea what the Firefox devs are thinking with that shortcut.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/disable-ctrl-...

Probably that ctrl+q is the historical cross-platform standard for quitting. Also you may have missed that not all keyboard layout are QWERTY.

QWERTZ also has Q next to W.

I should know, I'm using a QWERTZ keyboard. But those are not all keyboard layouts: QÜERTY, ÄWERTY, QZERTY, DVORAK, BÉPO, JCUKEN, WORKMAN, ŪGJRMV, MALTRON, etc.

Then there are the asian and middle east that do not even use the same alphabet. Though those may use the QWERTY as an underlying layout for compatibility.

At least on the Mac, I resolve this for browsers and other tools with the Keyboard pane of System Preferences (very powerful, if you've never dug through it). For that matter, I also tweak other things I don't want to easily hit using the keyboard, such as making it harder to Minimize.

You seriously think that removing the ability to disable javascript (well, not really, you still can - just not as easily) is in any way a factor? Which other browser makes this easier?

Pocket? Hello? Really?

Firefox memory usage has for years used less memory; basically since its inception. Apparently it's no different now: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/03/whos-winning-the-browser-...

e10s? Come on, give me a break. I bet the vast majority of users have never heard of it, and of the others, most don't know what it's about to any useful degree, and of those that understand this feature, most probably wouldn't know the details of how the various multiprocess implementations actually compare. A vanishingly small proportion of the user base know of this feature, understand it enough, can compare this to other browsers, and then have a strong enough opinion to affect browser choice (and frankly, it's not obvious multiprocess is actually that great of an idea in the first place if you really do know what you're talking about - not one of the browsers actually separates every tab into a separate browser - for a reason!)

As to OS support - firefox still is the last browser to support XP, so I'm not sure what you're referring to. Version 52 was the last one; but that's on an extended support cycle until june 2018, which AFAICT is more than two years later than chrome's last v50. Microsoft hasn't "supported" XP with any reasonable browser... well, not ever (the highest IE version was 9!), and it hasn't supported the OS at all even with security patches for years (with certain notable exceptions).

As to disruptions caused by signed extensions - so that's why the appstore has failed and nobody is using windows anymore? I get it's annoying, but this is a pattern that's recurring all over the industry, and has for many years before FF made this step. If anything, I think it's more plausible FF is being punished because it was too slow to ban unsigned extensions! Because poor experiences based on bad or even malicious extensions do reflect on FF. And for that matter, signing isn't the real issue, it's add-on sandboxing/threading. Chrome got this "more" right, in that it's less likely for an novice extension author to accidentally bring chrome to a grinding halt. But precisely this feature is still causing lots of addon breakage because FF has not yet completely dumped the old, problematic add-on API, presumably because users really hate losing their cherished extensions (and for a reason). I've witnessed several addons that have chrome+FF equivalents where perf issues occured only in FF - which may have been the addon author's "fault" - but that's a really poor excuse.

Poor perf, and the expectation of poor perf sound like more reasonable guesses, but even there I'm not convinced this actually matters as much as you'd hope. Still, that's at least something. But then, the number of people you see working with unworkably slow setups for all kinds of reasons that apparently don't care enough to switch products suggests that even abominable perf isn't necessarily very impactful. Maybe this matters indirectly; in that power users that care influence others in their choices.

I think that many of the changes that Mozilla has made to Firefox that people in this thread are complaining about may not have directly driven away a large number of users, but, they indicate a serious problem with decision making within Mozilla.

It is clear that the only reason many changes were made, and features removed, was solely because Chrome did it. And Google has very different motivations and goals than Mozilla. Google wants to make money, and use Chrome as a pillar in their platform. So, by emulating Chrome so closely, not just does it indicate that the developers are making bad decisions, it also means that the browser will not be as good.

EXAMPLE: They proposed removing FTP support from Firefox, and the justification was just a link to an announcement that Chrome was doing it. [1] It makes sense for Chrome to do it from a business perspective, but it does not make sense for Firefox.

Or, better yet, I remember that there was talk of having Chrome switch back to using a native pdf renderer back from the javascript one. This sacrifices portability and arguably security for speed.

Or sometimes there are design decisions in Chrome that are outright hostile to the user, to help Google's partners, such as removing the "save as" option for html5 video. It is only a matter of time until Firefox makes it harder to download video, solely because Chrome is doing it. When Google does this, I at least understand that their sabotaging this functionality is part of their larger strategy. Mozilla doing it is just baffling.

I mean, the original Firebird went in the opposite direction as Internet Explorer 6. If Mozilla had the same culture back then, they would have put all of their resources into making an inferior clone of Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer was a better user experience in a lot of ways, especially for the first few years. But people started moving to Firefox because it was worth it. The security, control, and flexibility was worth it. I specifically remember turning people onto Firefox because they were sick of ads, and there were special add-ons that they wanted.

If Mozilla wants Firefox to work, it needs to do what Chrome wont let you do. It needs to integrate aggressive ad-blocking. Let you have control over the content you view. I think that people would happily use Firefox if it empowered them.

1: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1174462

I think you misundertood the justification of the "remove FTP" bug.

That bug was filed by the person who wrote most of the FTP implementation in Firefox and was one of the few people who maintained it. The reasons to consider removal were that it was a maintenance burden, extra security attack surface, and not really relevant to users nowadays. The posted link only spoke to that last point: that other widely used browsers were removing it and it wasn't being a problem for their users, apparently.

The first two reasons for removal were not clearly explained in the bug report initially, because they were obvious to both the bug filer and his intended audience: the networking module owners and peers.

See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1174462#c23 for more details.

Would the summary being "consider removing FTP support" more accurately reflect intent? Probably. Did the actual engineers involved know what the bug was about? Yes.

> Or, better yet, I remember that there was talk of having Chrome switch back to using a native pdf renderer back from the javascript one.

I assume you mean Firefox? Speed was part of that discussion, but so were the various features pdf.js lacks but the proposed replacement supports.

> It is only a matter of time until Firefox makes it harder to download video, solely because Chrome is doing it.

If you assume that Mozilla is just aping Google. But if, on the other hand, you just have that as a preconceived notion and try to make all decisions fit that theory no matter what the actual reasons for them are... then you might just guess wrong on this.

I agree with you on the broad point that Firefox needs to do things Chrome can't or won't do. The worry with your "aggressive ad-blocking" suggestion (much as I would like that personally!) is that a likely outcome is a large enough number of sites blocking Firefox altogether that users stop being able to use it at all for normal browsing. If Firefox had a monopoly position in the market it _might_ be able to get away with that sort of move, but it doesn't have that position.

> I agree with you on the broad point that Firefox needs to do things Chrome can't or won't do.

Actually the point was that mozilla should stop removing features that are not in chrome first, if there are any left. The point is firefox should differentiate from chrome instead of being more and more similar because being similar to chrome just remove the appeal firefox had.

> If Firefox had a monopoly position in the market it _might_ be able to get away with that sort of move, but it doesn't have that position.

But when they had the better share of the market they were adamant not to do any adblocking and this may be related to the fact that 98% of their revenue came from advertising through google. Then again how would a website block firefox ? Using user-agent ?

> I think that many of the changes that Mozilla has made to Firefox that people in this thread are complaining about may not have directly driven away a large number of users, but, they indicate a serious problem with decision making within Mozilla.

Of course they have, I'm such an individual but I'm responsible for about one to two thousands installations of firefox over the last decade or so. Carefully replacing any sneaky install of bundled chrome each time I faced one, and so on.

It's been 2 or 3 years since I've gradually stopped doing this. I have no reason to keep helping a corp that keeps disappointing and not caring about users, selling an image through marketing (giving power and freedom to users) while doing the opposite in reality (removing power and freedom from users). I've barely made any new firefox installation and stopped replacing sneaky chrome/IE unless expressly asked.

Just with one individual they've lost I'd say about a few hundreds users over 3 years. Although a few hundred users is not even a blip on their radar, I'm not alone in this situation and numbers quickly add up to a significant amount. Though maybe not significant enough for mozilla's devs to care.

The point is, a limited number of individual users played a role (possibly significant) in firefox success, the same people now play a role in its demise. It seems mozilla does not understand this fact despite building a large church of evangelist fanboys.

Either Mozilla is infested by an me-too syndrome or they employ managers who do their current employer (Mozilla) a disservice (and their former employer a service). A big problem anyway.

I wouldn't care for a pdf viewer in the browser. What is the usecase for having this in-build?

Do you mean a native pdf viewer or any pdf viewer including the javascript one? It's very convinient to open pdf:s in the same tab and not having to download a file and open it in an external viewer.

I don't find it convenient at all, given that my native PDF viewer clearly outperforms the in-browser viewers, specially in large PDF files.

Change it to "open in external application" is one of my first changes after a fresh install.

But for small pdfs, the in-browser pdf viewer is typically faster. I use lots of PDFs and while I read most in adobe reader, I still appreciate the in-browser rendering: it's often good enough, and stuff like smooth scrolling and tabbed browsing actually works better, and the UI is less in-your-face. The windows PDF reader has (IMNSHO) ugly fonts, and no upside I can find whatsoever.

Turns out to display the document you have to download the pdf anyway. I had so many issues with this PDF in browser thing reported to me by users... And disabling it can be a hassle with firefox sometimes ignoring the setting or simply not offering the option. I don't know what purpose it is supposed to have but it only gave me more support requests.

Have it updated and sandboxed.

Useful for system without a package manager.

> Microsoft hasn't "supported" XP with any reasonable browser... well, not ever (the highest IE version was 9!)

Actually IE9 requires Vista, so XP is stuck with IE8.

You are, of course, completely right - I clearly misremembered that!

Removing the option the ability to disable javascript was a deal breaker for me. Luckily I could sort of restore this much needed feature through extensions.

The other browser that got it and offered a quick menu to disable/enable javascript was opera with the f12 or quick preferences menu, not sure if this option survived opera selling out and becoming a chrome skin.

Pocket was another thing not needed to disable in firefox, it was proprietary and had vulnerabilites when a better opensource alternative existed, mozilla got a lot of flak for this. Then they bought it for millions of $ to leverage the users to get into mobile.

Hello was again another unneeded thing to disable right away (yay more extensions!), it leaked the local IP and added vulnerability.It was such a popular feature that it got removed a few versions later.

Those 3 really infuriated me and a portion of the firefox users community.

I can't tell about the memory usage, I've bought a 16GB RAM laptop a few years ago to free myself from firefox memory issues, I do know that once in a while I have to quit firefox because it's consuming too much memory and cpu while idle.

by the time e10s arrived, there was no "vast majority of users" anymore for firefox. Having not heard of it means mozilla communication sucks. Anyways e10s is disabled in my firefox, I do not remember why.

I'm not sure what you mean by firefox being the last browser to support xp, 6 months ago I tried to install firefox on windows xp and installer denied to install telling me it does not support xp anymore. I think I installed pale moon instead and opera so maybe firefox is not the last one to support xp.

Signed extensions caused an uproar and some people left firefox over this because it's removing freedom from user and giving more power/control to firefox. I had to drop a couple extensions that refused to comply with mozilla demands or were not updated.

And there are other things like this, and when all this happens while bug report dating of years or decades are still waiting to be dealt with or closed as WONTFIX because you do not matter enough, well...

But isn't that exactly what extensions are for - to enable power users or simply niche use cases to flourish without bogging down the UI and codebase for everyone else?

I would have liked Hello (or really, any decent chat application that's not just some vehicle for the dreams of vendor lock-in by a large company) to succeed, but you're right, it flopped.

Firefox 52 was supported on XP service pack 2 (or later). Version 53 was released April 19, 2017. If you couldn't install FF on XP six months ago, you either were using a really really out of date XP (SP2 was released 2004!), or you misremembered, or you were using some beta or otherwise nonstandard FF.

I mean - I don't really disagree with you; heck I share some of the same frustrations. But what the heck is the alternative? Most of what you're mentioning is worse on every other browser.

What remains is perf and extensions; but I feel that those two issues are intertwined. FF extension APIs were, unfortunately, misdesigned. Not through malice or even incompetence, but because this turns out to be tricky. And so it was really easy to bog FF down with benign-looking extensions, and furthermore, it was difficult for FF to modernize with such low encapsulation. They should have bitten the bullet much earlier - instead, the problem kept festering.

When you say FF was a hog on a 16GB laptop, then it's almost certainly down to extensions - those very extensions you're frustrated they're forcibly modernizing. I don't think there's any good solution here.

IIRC extensions were the excuse for not adding features in firefox because it was supposed to be the most basic possible to avoid performance issues.

Thing is there is no need to bog down the UI for people who don't need certain advanced features (of which an adblocker is not), you can be smart about it. Once again look at opera did it. For example mouse gestures were disabled until you first tried to use them and at this point it would spawn a window asking you if you wanted to enable them.

I have no idea what the reasoning for adding hello into a web browser. Opera did it with an IRC client a couple decades ago and it stopped being relevant at some distant point in the past. There are enough chat applications around, no need to push an additional in the browser, especially when on the other hand you remove or do not add features on the pretense that you lack resources.

I do not misremember at all (well it was probably more than 6 months ago as this took place at the end of last year). I remember perfectly being sorry for cleaning up my archives of older version install files for firefox because the oldest I had was version 49 and this version had already dropped windows xp support for this hardware (and IIANM firefox dropped linux support with version 52 or 53). Faced with replacing fully functional CPU/ motherboard/RAM or dropping firefox, guess what was the chosen solution.

Even pale moon that's based on older firefox versions has dropped window xp support[1].

I wish there was alternatives, but AFAIK the only alternative is to rely on older releases. Next time I have such an xp machine between my hands I'll do more research and tests to hopefully find something that will fill the gap.

Windows xp sp2 has been released in 2004 but we still fill containers of such computers to ship to Africa through humanitarian programs. We have a container leaving in september of this year. Most technology oriented people from rich western world tend to overlook that the rest of the world has not the same privileges they have.

I agree that it is not difficult to have poorly coded extensions or misdeisgned API causing a drain on resources, but this a strong design choice by mozilla who consistently refused to add those features to their browser even if incredibly popular (heck they even remove them at times). So even if the extension is the reason for the performance issue, the responsibility still lies with mozilla.

I don't mind modernizing, what I mind is that said modernizing means removing a good 70% of what I had to add to firefox to turn it into a modern browser and make it useful to me. When they tout freedom and user power but remove control and power from my hands while ignoring user feedback or even knowingly messing users because well they're not a high percentage in their skewed metric.

I may badly expressed myself here, I didn't mean that firefox is a hog all the time, but that with my use case of couple hundred tabs open over weeks or months it happens once in a while that I have to close it to clear an unexplained CPU or RAM hogging. On the other hand it is common to have 35-75% CPU usage of one core for just being opened and idle which is something I don't understand. When this happened in opera a simple F12 / disable javascript was enough to stop this nonsense. My take is that it's not as much an issue with the browser than with those stupid js heavy websites, the shortcoming from mozilla is to have removed the ability to disable scripts.

It's probably extensions in most cases, but I have replicated the behaviour with a brand new user profile and a vanilla firefox without any extensions, it actually happens faster and more often without extensions (lack of ublock origin and noscript plays a significant role here I guess).

Anyways I'm disgruntled, frustrated and fed up with this mozilla bs over the years. I sincerely hope they disappear sooner than later or that people in charge are replaced by competent people and that a user centric browser emerges from this mess.

[1]: https://www.palemoon.org/PM_end_of_WinXP_support.shtml

The visual drops in data shows only one of the things you mentioned had a sizeable impact, and that was discussed in the article.

Almost everything you list are things that happen around a certain time and we don't see those events manifest in the graph.

The reason of course being that the vast majority of Firefox users are not expert and don't care or know about those advance features.

Maybe if you can link to a user satisfaction report...

I try firefox usually once a year to find out nothing changed about freezing, crashing, slow reactions and bad rendering on machine with 2GB RAM.

Meanwhile Chrome just works. It's even worse on Android, they don't have in FF even pull down to refresh and it's the slowest browser I tried.

> Firefox’s decline is not an engineering problem. Its a market disruption (Desktop to Mobile shift) and monopoly problem. There are no engineering solutions to these market problems. The only way to escape this is to pivot to a different market [...]

Privacy is the one problem that Mozilla/Firefox can address, which Google and Microsoft will be fundamentally conflicted about addressing. It is also a growing market; that is the market Firefox should be aiming for!

It seems to me that Mozilla/Firefox folks don't appreciate this at a deep level. They are eroding user trust in the attempt to gather data for engineering better features. Eg. see the recent controversy regarding Firefox's usage of Google Analytics: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14753546 .

I made some comments on that thread, on how Mozilla/Firefox could try to win the privacy market. I don't want to repeat those comments, so I'll just link to them: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14754672

Pretty much this drives my Firefox usage... I use it on mobile because I can still use various adblock/privacy extensions without trouble. Use it on the desktop, too, because Google being deeply linked into my browser creeps me out.

Excellent point about privacy. This is why Firefox is (still?) the top browser in Germany (think history, GDR and before). There is actually a huge majority of people who want to have control over their own data. Firefox should make this a real priority, in actions, not just in words. This really matters, especially to a lot of tech people who understand the issues, and who will translate this to regular users if Firefox makes a real effort (which they have not done to date).

Note that Mozilla is working more closely with the Tor project with an eye towards making it easier for more people to get the privacy enhancing benefits of browsing over the Tor network.

Just as a thought, would it be impossible for Firefox to render the Tor browser bundle unnecessary, by making every release of Firefox feature Tor functions (and other privacy controls) by default?

Here are some Tor privacy controls that might be a bit hard to ship by default:

1) Various navigator.* APIs all claim you're on Windows. Some people on non-Windows platforms may have issues with this.

2) Various window-sizing APIs lie about sizing, so pages that use them will end up making windows too small for their content.

3) Geolocation is disabled altogether.

4) The performance API is effectively disabled (claims pretty much everything took 0 time).

5) Media queries on the device pixel ratio lie and claim it's 1, no matter what it actually is.

6) All timing functions are clamped to the nearest 100ms. That means Date.now(), performance.now(), etc. If nothing else, shipping this by default will make all benchmark results _very_ weird.

There's also various other functionality that gets disabled (gamepad API, orientation API, etc, etc). These are generally not used much yet, so might be ok to remove, if people think these should actually not exist as web APIs.

1) So make a request that Tor-like functions tell servers that our OS is Ubuntu. Perhaps I'm obtuse here, but who gives a darn if it's a matter of privacy - isn't the issue to hide under the most common OS?

2) So we send (through a Tor-backed PGP/GPG-encrypted message) a message saying "hey dev.dork, your minimuum window size is unrealistic".

3) Yay!

4) Yay!

5) And...? maybe it'd be wise to declare 4:3, but otherwise I see no issue.

6) Well, obviously we should have a button of "This page is requesting private data - Share for this page load? Y/N"

And I really, really don't mind if literally everything called an "API" were to go out the bloody window. Sure, it's throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but there's too much bathwater and the baby's a squalling jerkface anyhow.

> Perhaps I'm obtuse here, but who gives a darn if it's a matter of privacy

Some sites actually work incorrectly (e.g. keep giving you an .exe to download instead of something you can actually use) if they think you're on Windows when you actually aren't. I'm not saying this is good practice, just that people do it.

> So we send

Normal users don't do that. Remember, we're not talking about a "privacy mode you can enable", but a "privacy mode that is shipped by default out of the box". Obviously for an opt-in mode things are simpler.

> 3) Yay!

Turns out some sites break without geolocation. Again, not saying it's a good idea, but it is what it is.

> 4) Yay!

Just so you understand, the next likely step is Facebook blocking your browser.

> 5) And...? maybe it'd be wise to declare 4:3, but otherwise I see no issue.

Um... I don't think you understand what device pixel ratio is. This is the ratio of CSS to device pixels. Aka "is this a high-dpi screen", aka "which images should actually be used to look nice?

> 6) Well, obviously we should have a button of "This page is requesting private data - Share for this page load? Y/N"

So every page that uses performance.now() (hint: pretty much everything) would have this thing appear? Again, remember that we're talking about a default mode here. Do you really think this is the experience most users are looking for?

I really think you're talking about a quite different situation (opt-in privacy mode) than the one I was responding to...

I'd be happier with a more private experience, at whatever cost it takes. As far as device pixel ratio, when I think of pixel ratio, I think of 4:3, 16:10, etc. Frankly, loading larger images means more data sent and received, which in turn gives the website longer to attempt to inject tracking data through EXIF or whatnot. Frankly, disabling off-page CSS wouldn't bother me either unless somehow we'd be able to show different "user instances" to the server when we request the CSS sheet from one part of the server compared to the one where we render the page we actually want.

If sites break because people control their web experience, then one of two things will happen:

1) People who are not security-focused will switch to Chrome, which is what's already happened. So focus on a specific group and push the edge-case agenda with both the browser product and an ongoing marketing budget.

2) People will become aware of what webpages are demanding by default and just how little respect these groups have for their privacy - and have a means to fight back through browser selection.

I'm willing to accept that there will be the need for certain opt-out options because some people are going to actually want to give up private data, for purposes of online shopping, online banking, etc.. I want it default closed down, but again, I accept that most people aren't focused on it.

> People who are not security-focused will switch to Chrome, which is what's already happened

No, it hasn't. And I think explaining to people exactly why a web page expecting Date.now() to work is somehow demanding something and invading their privacy is a pretty tough job. Like "requires reading academic papers to understand why it could be a problem" tough.

So what you're basically suggesting is that Firefox resign itself to being an extremely niche browser. I don't think that really aligns with Mozilla's goals, for what it's worth.

> Privacy is the one problem that Mozilla/Firefox can address

could address, unfortunately Firefox default settings are no better than Chrome nowadays - what a shame. Every time the Firefox settings dialog gets changed, privacy related settings get less, and default options changed for the worse. One has to dig through the about:config mess, and even there the settings get renamed. It feels like their new devs learned their work at Microsoft, with Win10 as shameful disrespectful highlight of user hostile behavior.

Mozilla have recently released Firefox Focus, which is a stripped down, privacy enhanced version of the browser. So it seems they are somewhat aware that they need to be targeting privacy conscious users.

No reason to do so when world clearly shows all one need to do is to stick "private", "secure", "end-to-end encrypted", "anonymous" etc labels (and keep buzzwords up-to-date with current year's trends) and just don't do something too obviously contradicting that.

That's really sad but seem to be true. Too many examples out there.

Some crappy companies such as Eurostar currently experience issues in their website when using Firefox (e.g. impossibility of using vouchers in some cases), and when you contact customer support, they clearly state that "Chrome is recommended" for better results, and that "there are known issues with Firefox". I initially thought it was due to some Firefox add-ons, but even with all of them disabled, things do work better in Chrome.

I've also seen other (somewhat badly-designed) websites where using Chrome leads to less issues, probably because its developers are only testing with it and using non-standard or legacy features/plug-ins. Because of those issues, I am forced to recommend family members to try Chrome when things seem broken, to the point that some have now switched to it by default. I really hope this will not become another IE-like situation...

I have heard designer friends say that Firefox is the new IE for them: so many rendering problems that they always need to do special Firefox-specific workarounds.

Now the next remark tends to be that Chrome is pretty awful as well with very weird rendering errors happening all too often - for example HTML comments can shift paragraphs up or down (lots of fun with React inserting those everywhere), or toggling a class from JS making things disappear completely.

Safari seems to be a designer-favourite with a very strong focus on things designers need. I don't think I've heard any complaints about Edge either.

To developers and designers "rendering issues" equate to anything "not the same as my primary browser". Obviously bugs can be to blame but they could be due to different interpretations of a vague standard or somebody decided to do what they felt was right instead of what the standard says.

Safari is the worst for me. Everything works as it should in Firefox/Chrome, and it's always Safari with the weird issues, like not doing flex-box properly.

experienced problems with Safari and flex-box as well. And when you don't own a Mac to run Safari on it, it's difficult to do tests! You have to annoy friends/colleagues with Macbooks.

> I have heard designer friends say that Firefox is the new IE for them

> Safari seems to be a designer-favourite with a very strong focus on things designers need.

I have the completely different experience. If anything Safari is the new IE6 here.

It has bizarre JavaScript behaviour mismatches from other browsers because it doesn't conform to the standard and does its own thing instead. However, some of these problems are only present on iOS/macOS because they're related to the underlying libraries used/provided by those operating systems. It also has "edge-case" (I'd call them quite common, actually) rendering issues that haven't been fixed for at least a few years now (their flexbox model is still broken). Sometimes they even don't really treat these as bugs either but instead assume a high ground and claim their way is the best way. Sounds familiar?

Both Chrome and Firefox have some issues where things don't work properly, or deviate from the standard, and these are treated as bugs, and there's much fewer of those.

In my experience Firefox in general has more of these issues than Chrome and it usually requires a bit of added fluff to get it to work as the documentation claims it should work, but they're usually fixed quickly since there's usually already a bug report for them.

Chrome on the other hand has some subtle issues with rendering, and ironically a lot of them seem to be with the table model—which you'd think should be robust given its age, and some of them have not been fixed for ages, simply because people are moving away from the table model and interest in these bugs is dropping.

The table model has technical design issues to begin with, anyway.

> I have heard designer friends say that Firefox is the new IE for them

Please tell them to report those issues? Either tweets to @bz_moz or email to bzbarsky at mit dot edu or just bug reports in Bugzilla if they're up for it and a cc; I'll make sure things get routed to the right place.

I don't know what your friend is telling you but safari is absolutely not designer friendly, it doesn't follow the specs at all.

It just seems like your friend is making things for safari only, then is for some reason trying to remake it properly for other browsers once he's done.


But you seem to point, that it already is an IE-like situation.

It's not just marketing. It's also Google websites that only work with Chrome.

For example, Hangout. I can no longer use Hangout using Firefox.

Or I think Gmail Inbox, which also came out only working on Chrome initially.

It's the sum of all these things that look very much like "best viewed with internet explorer" type stuff. I don't ever want to go back to such a world.

Google Inbox initially did not support Firefox because "Firefox was too slow" [1]. Inbox hit a performance problem with Firefox's Array slice() implementation, but Google didn't report the problem to Mozilla. Chrome's slice() was fast, in part because it was not handling some corner cases correctly. Once Mozilla engineers were made aware of the performance problem, they fixed it in one day [2].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8495498

[2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1087963

Yes, cross-browser support seems to be a low prio for Google nowadays. And the bad thing is that it does not hurt them but helps them to succeed.

I wished that instead of switching to Chrome, people would instead move away from Google Services like Hangout (Skype, WhatsApp, https://meet.jit.si/) or Gmail (posteo, mailbox.org) whenever they see a "This works even better in Chrome" notice…

Yes! It's really frustrating that Hangout / Meet don't work on Firefox. This isn't just Google's fault I think. Firefox changed how plugins work and I think that broke Google's Hangout implementation.

Also I can only use my U2F security key for Google when on Chrome. Firefox doesn't support it.

> Firefox changed how plugins work and I think that broke Google's Hangout implementation.

IIRC, there was s public notice by Firefox about the API change more than a year in advance. Google does not have the resources for implementation? Firefox support is just low prio for Google. I think it's a deliberate (non)-action because instead of switching away from Hangout, people rather start using Chrome... So not-browser-compat seems to help Google :-/ (see also my other comment)

Google Hangouts switched from the NPAPI plugin to WebRTC in Chrome back in 2014 [1], but still used plugins (NPAPI or ActiveX) for other browsers. Hangouts depends on non-standard WebRTC functionality in Chrome [2].

Google has had three years to adapt to other browsers' standard WebRTC stacks, but it was apparently not a priority for the company as long as the legacy Hangouts plugins still worked in other browsers. Mozilla announced in 2015 [3] that it would remove NPAPI plugin support in 2017, so Google had plenty of notice that the Hangouts plugin would stop working in Firefox. Google's new "Hangouts Meet" service is supposed to work with standard WebRTC in Firefox and Edge, but Hangouts Meet is still in beta and its system requirements page still only lists Chrome.

[1] https://plus.google.com/103171586947853434456/posts/39TCW3Pc...

[2] https://webrtchacks.com/hangout-analysis-philipp-hancke/

[3] https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2015/10/08/npapi-plu...

I have Meet enabled on my GSuite account at work. It most definitely does not work in Firefox. If you go a Meet link you get "Meet doesn't work on your browser yet To join the video meeting, you can install the current version of Google Chrome"

It's certainly unfortunate that Google hasn't updated their software but Firefox didn't need to remove NPAPI. They chose to do that and when they did they broke software for lots of companies, not just Google. That's a trade off and decision that Firefox made and I'm suffering for it. They had their reasons for making that decision but that decision had costs and downsides for me.

There is no actual standard for U2F on the web yet, for what it's worth. Chrome implemented and shipped something, and ever since have been talking about how it's terrible and needs to be replaced with a sane API instead. That's being worked on.

U2F is a standard for the web. The Universal 2 Factor standard is published by the FIDO Alliance and it's documented and clear and implementable. The javascript APIs needed are covered. You can get it here https://fidoalliance.org/download/

Maybe you mean that there isn't a W3C standard and that's true as far as I can tell. I don't think that should be a blocker to Firefox adoption but maybe there is a reason it is.

> and it's documented and clear and implementable

As someone who has actually looked at implementing it... no, it's not, by the standards of modern web specs. That's part of the problem with it. The other problem is that its creators ignored a whole bunch of best practices for web API design...

Anyway, the FIDO thing (or an approximation of it, which was the best they could do given the quality of the spec) is what Chrome shipped and what they've been trying to backpedal from since.

If you want the gory details as far as Firefox is concerned, see https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/mozilla.dev.platf... for the discussion about whether to implement FIDO U2F in Firefox. Note that it's about 6 pages of posts, at least the way google groups shows it to me... The posts from Ryan Sleevi (representing Chrome) are particularly interesting.

I don't know anyone who use Hangout anymore so that doesn't bother me. Basic gMail, Docs, Sheets work pretty well in Firefox. They feel faster in Chrome (actually I use Chromium) but are not perfect. Right now I'm having a problem where deleting a document in Drive causes an "Aww, Snap" crash.

Overall I think it's a tossup. Google makes sure their stuff works decently in Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox (probably in that order).

> For example, Hangout. I can no longer use Hangout using Firefox.

Is that different from Hangouts[0]? That's worked and continues to work in Firefox AFAICT.

[0] https://hangouts.google.com/

Video calls tell you to install chrome

There was a time when web developers went to great length to make their site compatible with every browser. Now they just make it work on Chrome.

YouTube's new preview on thumbnail hover doesn't work on Firefox as well.

Graceful degradation working though.

Side note. From Andreas's post:

> looks like the site requires a login now. It used to be available publicly for years and was public until a few days ago

I'm no longer a Mozillian, but stuff like this is really, really weird. I'm referring in general to things being hidden or locked up—Mozilla as an organization operated more openly than anything else I can think of, which is part of what used to make it so beautiful (and successful)—but specifically, I'm talking about sign ins.

I stopped touching stuff on developer.mozilla.org 5+ years ago (or even consulting it, really), but I was reading some docs on the site last week and saw something that was so outright wrong that I felt it had to be fixed. I tried to, and it turns out that you have to use GitHub to sign in. The idea of requiring a social media sign in for a Mozilla web property is one of the most un-Mozilla things possible and really blew me away.

Interestingly there is a pretty salty comment bellow his post addressing this and complaining that he is publishing/commenting publicly available data. The "how dare you publish facts! The Mozilla Politburo does not approve of this!" tone is so stereotypical of zealots I initially thought it was a sarcastic comment.

Seems like a long term project contributor, if the nickname is for real.

I wonder why it is that i seem to bump into an upsurge of near religious FOSS devs from Europe these days...

https://www.arewestableyet.com/ is for internal tracking and rather hard to make sense of externally. It's cluttered with jargon and abbreviations and raw numbers. (I can tell because I just logged in. I work for Mozilla.) For example, this is how the rows are labeled in one table: usage_khours, Main (M), M + Content (M+C), C - Content Shutdown (C-S), M + C - S, NPAPI + GMP Plugin Crashes (P), GPU.

It's easy to see how exposing this site to the world might not be a good idea, especially when it's referenced from a blog post appearing on the hacker news front page and people start drawing all kinds of uninformed conclusions.

Locking out people because they might be confused by data seems... quite patronizing.

I'm not saying I am entitled to mozilla's data, but if that were the reason behind closing data that was once open I would feel a little insulted.

Lack of openness also makes participation more difficult. For example I occasionally see links by mozilla developers posted on IRC (some telemetry, google spreadsheets) that require login, which makes it more difficult to follow what's going on.

Dunno, can you make sense of the jargon I pasted? This site really isn't useful to the outside and probably shouldn't have been public in the first place. It would _never_ have been public at Apple or Microsoft or Google. But Mozilla is open by default, so people often don't think twice before making something public.

Also, (unpaid) Mozilla contributors do get access to this stuff.

> Dunno, can you make sense of the jargon I pasted?

yes, the crash stats site shows similar categories

One could argue that if it's for internal tracking, it doesn't need its own domain name.

GitHub isn't social media, dude.

Then what else is it? There's a strong focus on community building (i.e. push/pull requests) (social), and those people create the bulk of the site's content (media), which in turn draws in outside users and encourages them to sign up and through a combination of sharing content (i.e. forks/clones) and new content (i.e. new projects). Of course it's social media. The difference is literally only in terms of what the media in question is.

GitHub Is The Next Big Social Network, Powered By What You Do, Not Who You Know https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2012/07/15/github...

Google definitely has been a (major) contributor to the decline of Firefox, both with all the google site notices suggesting users switch to Chrome and the works-on-chrome-first features of Gmail, Drive, etc. That last issue is years old, but I would bet it got a lot of people to first try Chrome.

Another factor could have been Mozilla's defaulting to Yahoo for search (and the difficulty some people had with changing and keeping the change to another search provider). For quite a few years Yahoo has not been very good at search, and Mozilla's insistence on teaming up with them probably brought Mozilla's name down.

The change over to yahoo as the default search, as well as the ui changes a few years ago which made it a hassle to change search engines has, I would wager, done more harm to mozilla than whatever monetary benefit they gained from the switch. The fact that they made it difficult to change search engines is probably the worse offense. It's just blatantly anti user. i like firefox, but they needlessly erode people's goodwill toward them.

Firefox's primary advantage was that it was pro-user. At some point, it started consciously herding users by intentionally making certain choices that they didn't like which users made more difficult or impossible to find in the UI. That's a distinct philosophical break, and an open user antagonism. That didn't make it worse than other browsers; that made it the same as other browsers. The only criteria you're left to choose on are distinct features, and Firefox started methodically eliminating theirs. After the ending of the old extensions API, Firefox has finally reached its goal of having absolutely no advantages compared to any other browser, with the bonus of not working as well with google properties as the google-owned browser.

For the Mozillans around here:

This is sadly almost what I feel.

Then again I'll stick with FF for now since Google has managed to annoy me with their Chrome campaign and since FF is slightly better for my use cases and uses less resources AFAIK.

We are in quite a sad state regardless of which browser we use...

... the popups requesting your email address or that you turn off your ad blocker, the auto-playing videos (that relocate themselves as you try to scroll away from them!), the javascript hijacked page scrolling, and so on.

So really it doesn't matter which browser you use. Your browser is going to feel slow, and it's going to use a ton of resources.

You can disable auto-playing video in Firefox about:config.

I still believe that Mozilla biggest mistake with mobile was not Firefox OS, it was that they started on Android too late. They should have been on Android from day one, but they weren't, and when they did build Fennec, it was really bad. They eventually fixed it, but by that point Chrome for Android was already out.

And then they pivoted to Firefox OS. At a time when WebOS had already failed, Nokia had already failed, and the writing was on the wall for Blackberry and Windows Phone. It was already well known that the market couldn't support another mobile OS, and that was the moment they decided to build one, totally bizarre.

I firmly believe that if Mozilla had gone all-in on Firefox for Android at the time when Android's browser was just atrociously bad, they could have been the hip option there, and had a leg-up on Chrome for Android.

To everyone that says "people don't install 3rd party browsers on mobile", that's 100% wrong. Chrome for Android was a 3rd party browser for several years and was popular.

What has been going on with Mozilla as of late, as well as Gnome and various other FOSS projects, is a overton distraction on "social". This in the form of "helping" the third world etc. Mostly all this ends up doing is adding to some execs ladder climbing scorecard, and draining the project of focus and manhours.

> They eventually fixed it

And then broke it down, step by step. It used to be perfect but over the years gradually got changed/removed features that I loved, with no about:config option to get them back. Things like no menu button[1] (my device has a physical menu button), text reflow when zooming was removed, double tap to zoom to a paragraph now (sometimes?!) selects text instead of zooming, the tab you have open is no longer on the bottom side of the tab menu (it would slide open fast, as soon as your finger touched it and would feel super snappy; now there's some fancy animation)... etc.

It got to the point where I started looking for other browsers, but there just are no good options. Chromium sometimes bugs and uses 100% CPU for hours until I notice, and most other things are closed source. So I'm stuck with a mix of Firefox and Habit browser.

Habit seems to be what Firefox used to be: configure it any way you like (and it does a fantastic job at that). The trouble is that it's closed source and it has an inferior rendering engine, so I don't dare using it for things with a login that are valuable and it doesn't work for some websites.

Edit: by the way, the desktop story is completely different. I could never go without Firefox on non-mobile for various features (besides the privacy matter).

[1] What does that matter: Well, space (now there's two buttons next to the already-small address bar) and usability. I used to be able to hit the tab button without really looking. It was on the side of the screen, I'd just finger along that edge and I'd open my tab menu. Now I need to tap somewhere specific, and if I accidentally hit the menu button, I need to either reach over to the other side of the screen (on a 5.5" phone, that's a stretch for my thumb) or hit the back button (which would require shifting my phone, then touching it, then shifting back, all balancing it in one hand, oftentimes at least). How friggin' difficult is it to make an about:config setting to hide a button?

I can't help feel that what is going on with Firefox is also going on with a bunch of other big name FOSS projects.

There seems to be a generation of devs taking over that is less about making sure things work and more about padding their CV with the latest bling tech.

End result is that unless you manage to keep up with their bleeding edge web dev mentality of moving fast and breaking things, the stuff you depend on for whatever you are doing will be mothballed or tossed out in short order.

The redesigned Firefox for Android was roundly praised as the best Android browser for a while. (It's still very good!) It gained very little market share. Unfortunately it's very hard to compete with defaults these days without paying for distribution deals like Google is doing with Chrome.

It was too late. Chrome for Android was not the default for about 3 years iirc and had good market share.

Maybe this is a good opportunity for Firefox to abandon its "forced mediocrity" model.

The vanilla installation of Firefox lacks basic UI components (mouse gestures for example), lacks session management, and the bookmark and history interfaces look like they were made in 1995.

When you click an old entry in History I don't understand why it's so difficult for the selection to stay near the formerly clicked item, instead of it selecting the top most entry forcing you to scroll all the way down again if you want to open another entry that's near the previously clicked entry.

Why can't Bookmarks employ a simple logistic classifier? OK I've stopped using Firefox's bookmark system a long time ago (because its so shitty) but if I were to be still using it I would expect the browser to be smart enough to figure out that if all my bookmarks from a certain site are in a specific bookmark folder that most likely means this new bookmark from that same site should go there and should be offered as the 1st choice.

Now, yes, of course you can add all these features in a slow JavaScript-based addon which will eat your memory and cpu time and allow the Firefox team to blame the addons when something goes wrong with Firefox, but at some point you have to reconsider if this is such a good idea.

Sure very few people use mouse gestures in Firefox and adding them out of the box could be interpreted as bloat, but maybe if more users even knew what mouse gestures were and how useful they are, they would start considering them a fundamental aspect of a browser's interface and not just a fancy knick-knack.

I miss the old Opera so much :(

What are your thoughts on Vivaldi?

I try it occasionally and I'm enjoying it. Most tools come out of the box, like Adblock, screenshot, window tiling, and mouse gestures. Not sure if the Adblock is as good as uBlock origin, though. Some new features like an improved history (haven't used thoroughly yet) and tab stacking.

It still is a bit buggy for me on Ubuntu 16.04. Sometimes when playing videos the window flickers.

I've been slogging along with FF Bookmarks, but breaking the XUL-dependent "Show Parent Folder" extension may be the last straw:

History of bookmark SNAFU goes back 9 years:


The article's ADI charts do not account for Mozilla moving Windows XP and Vista users from the Firefox release channel to the ESR (Extended Support Release) channel in March 2017 [1]. New versions of Firefox do not support XP or Vista, but XP and Vista users will continue to receive ESR security updates at least through 2018 Q1. You can see a similar "drop" in Mozilla's Firefox Hardware Report [2].

[1] https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2016/12/23/firefox-s...

[2] https://hardware.metrics.mozilla.com/

A comment said the same and I added a note to the text. If you have concrete data happy to update charts. Pull request welcome :) All code and data for charts on github.

It is indeed a monopoly problem. Google should be required to give browser choice in such ads, same as MS were.

What I worry about, is the increasing situation of "best viewed in Chrome" and sites starting to break in Firefox. That's going to be very bad.

We're already at that point IMHO.

Yeah, I mean it will only get worse. And it is highly annoying, since I have no interest in using Chrome.

I can't pay my phone bill with Firefox, for example, and have to use Chromium for that. It's a redirection problem between the company's website and the external payment service they use, been going on for years. Similar annoyances all over the place from all sorts of major corporations that all seem to invest the bare minimum in cross-platform QA.

While Firefox on mobile is virtually nonexistent, what this post asserts just doesn't look true to me. He's basically asserting that Chrome is where Internet Explorer was in the late 90's, but when I see what browser people are using for presentations, or when I am pair-programming or otherwise able to see directly what people are using, I see Firefox commonly. Outside the U.S., I don't have much visibility, but the StatCounter data (https://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qpr...) which shows Firefox on the increase in the last year, looks a lot more like what I am witnessing.

Just the fact you're on HN means that you're in a small percentage of users, and anyone doing pair programming or many related activities will also fit into a small subset of overall Firefox users. The vast majority of users will start with IE (now with Edge) or Safari, and will be exposed to Chrome when they go to Google for a search or because they have an Android phone and got directed there.

I'd say that the best thing that could happen for Firefox would be Google banning ad blockers, but in my experience with end users in office environments most users don't realize they even exist. Similarly they could partner with Facebook or some major destination sites, but that would have its own issues and complications.

Firefox is being squeezed out of the browser market for the same reason Opera was. They have no monster platform/s to leverage.

IE/Edge has Windows.

Chrome has Android and Google services broadly.

Safari has iOS & Mac.

Firefox has... nothing.

Unless Chrome suddenly gets a lot worse, it's pretty clear what's going to happen to Firefox. Even IE/Edge is finding it difficult to hold market share against Chrome on the PC (where Microsoft still has an effective monopoly), Firefox doesn't stand a chance by comparison.

I was one of those few who used Firefox on mobile because I could install ublock origin on it, so I preferred it over Chrome because of that.

However, at the time (about a year ago), I didn't think Firefox was as fast as Chrome. So I eventually switched to the Chromium-based Brave (run by Mozilla's former CEO) due to its speed and (Chromium) security architecture (and of course ad-blocking).

I would use Brave on the desktop, too, if not for the awful UI decisions there (on mobile it's more like a Chrome clone). They really need to replace their UI guy, because I feel like he (or she) has been getting it wrong since day one. Too much UI fluff getting in the way and controls being hidden from you.

Hi, which controls do you want that are hidden from you on desktop Brave? Thanks.

I'm not that guy, but I'd like to see a dark chrome in Brave, I dislike bright colors.

Got it, on our todo list.

On that note, Opera Mobile have built in Adblocking as well these days.

I believe they were saying Ff on ios is non-existant. However on Android it is decent and growing. I exclusively use it on android. I even have Chrome disabled.

Well FF on iOS is basically a wrapper around the iOS browser that provides bookmark sync with Firefox on desktop.

I love Firefox Focus on iOS. It's a stripped-down browser that has ad-blocking built-in and forgets your history with every new session.

It's perfect for doing web searches that you don't want associated with your device. If you're on your home wifi, you can probably still be tracked, but if you're on cellular I imagine it's pretty anon.

In the first version you were stuck with Yahoo! search (which is surprisingly bad), but now you can use Google.

Partial sync, or whatever you'd call it. You can't add or edit the desktop bookmarks and bookmarks added in Firefox for iOS won't show up on the desktop.

The samae with Chrome for iOS

I've been saying this for years, that Chrome's market share is mostly caused by Google's aggressive advertisement. Many users don't even know exactly what a browser is, they just clicked that button at some point because the text next to it told them to do so.

I don't buy it.

Chrome for years and years was sold as lightning fast and secure from malware - and it delivered.

That was why I switched back in the day.

Even today, it has a reputation for being lightning fast, and having a fast pace of development.

In my (admittedly mostly/predominantly) technical circle - I don't know many who switched to ads. In fact, those people are the least likely to click on ads.

Most of them switched because Chrome is fast, and lightweight - or for the non-technical people, because their technical friends told them to.

Yes, it's fast in many aspects, but totally not lightweight. It eats memory like there's no tomorrow, and spams the OS with processes. But to be fair, that's not super relevant for most users.

I've seen technical people switch because of performance, and I occasionally use it for certain tasks too for that reason.

But almost every time I see it on a non-techie computer and ask them something like, "ah, you're using Chrome?", they look at me like I'm speaking a different language. So I suppose they were not aware when they installed it.

Our of curiosity - how many tabs do you have open?

I have many tabs open, and did notice high memory usage.

I'll reference my comment elsewhere here - tl;dr - they/we aggressively throttle background tasks now:

> Chrome recently introduced some changes to background tabs (to a bit of grumbling from sites that wanted to use background resources/service workers): > https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/03/background.... > And also - they're aggressively throttling background tabs: > http://blog.strml.net/2017/01/chrome-56-now-aggressively-thr.... > https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13471543 > I'm on Chrome Canary - and there's been noticeable improvements in memory/responsive wise for a few months now. > I have around 320+ tabs open, spread over 2 Chrome profiles (around 160 per profile).

With every new version, i give firefox another try and it always just feels sluggish compared to chrome. The UI is not as responsive and the pages don't seem to load as quickly. I don't know if there's any actual data or measurements to back this up and i haven't tried to measure any speed differences, but for me the reason I use chrome instead of firefox is absolutely an engineering problem and not a marketing one.

I'd much rather use a Mozilla product than a Google one, but chrome is simply a better browser.

I am running Firefox 56 (Nightly) and it is very fast due to project Quantum. Even faster than Firefox 54 which also got a big boost due to e10s.


If Firefox 54 is still slow for you, I would be interested if multiprocess is enabled (look at about:support). Also, what does about:performance say?

If still slow you might want to do a Refresh: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/refresh-firefox-reset-a...

For me things only got worse since they started that multiprocess thing. It's great that tabs hang instead of the browser, but previously it would just never hang. Now tabs hang randomly, even when they're not doing anything. I guess because it's all still beta and testing.

Anyway, still not annoying enough to switch away. It'd take a lot for me to switch away again.

Edit: Ironically, that about:performance page you linked reports everything runs fine, except the about:performance page!

At least for me, since the e10s updates, firefox has been quite snappy even compared to chrome. Ive been enjoying the experience.

My experience exactly. Every time people told me it's getting better I downloaded and just felt differently...to the point I'm too tired to try it anymore.

Lots of haters on here! :) Like most of you, I use all browsers to test sites and applications. But Firefox is my main browser on all platforms for a bunch of reasons and I have no issues with performance. It has all the add-ins I need. I like the way it looks compared to the alternatives. The test pilot add-ins have been great. https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments And last but not least, by using it I'm supporting the open web and not feeding a monopoly.

Don't forget to mention privacy. Why would I use a browser which is spying on me if there is an alternative that doesn't? Same goes for other software.

Could you substantiate this claim?

Because it sounds like FUD at this stage, until somebody provides a shred of evidence.

No I can't since it's closed source software. But why would they not read your personal data in the browser, if they did (do?) with other products like Gmail? Give me one reason why I should trust them?

There are people who care more about their private data and others that care less. If you find Chrome trustworthy, go with it. For me a closed source browser is not an option.

I'm sorry - but this just comes across as wild paranoia - you're basically saying they could read your data - so they must?

That's like saying your school could install cameras in the toilets - so they must have?

Or that your landlord is secretly going through your stuff, because he has keys?

Actually - the Chromium browser project is open source:


It's what Google Chrome is built on - you could just compile that if you wanted. (You lose out on a bunch of integrations - but it sounds like that might be what you want, anyhow).

> Or that your landlord is secretly going through your stuff, because he has keys?

If he is known for doing such things, yes, I have to expect him doing so.

> Actually - the Chromium browser project is open source.

I know and Chrome is not.

And what evidence do you have for it ever having happened?

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I see a lot of conjecture and wild paranoia - but not much factual reporting.


I really must be a wild paranoid if I would ever think that a big corp or gov would read the private data that I throw into their cloud.

You think it's paranoid to expect it, I think it's naive to not expect it.

Yeah, lets swing the "hater" label around just to be on the safe side.

Why is it that anyone that question the decisions regarding a project are instantly tarred as "haters"?

I think half the problem with Firefox is that it has a marketing problem. Most folks today just trust Google and so Chrome is a product that has trustworthiness that will stand out for folks especially on the matter of speed/reliability. If Mozilla wants to do anything to save their project then they have to start re/building their brand recognition and trustworthiness among COMMON USERS (technical users tend to inform themselves so it's really not an issue IMO beyond actually talking to us). It'll be an uphill battle all the way but I think they'll find it's worth it.

I disagree with the article. When Firefox first got popular the default was internet explorer which was already installed on your computer. However because Firefox was so far ahead word spread and people took the time to install it.

These however there is no really big advantage to using Firefox over chrome, and when the difference is that close marketing and convenience will win. In other words if Firefox would've been on or with internet explorer years ago it would never have gained the market share it did in the first place.

It's not just a marketing issue but a combination of a marketing and engineering issue.

> no really big advantage

No _user perceived advantage_ but they are important: Privacy, freedom and avoiding the monoculture of a single web engine. The amount of websites that don't quite work well or outright has bugs on firefox is increasing.

The average user is going to care more about whether or not websites work than about privacy, freedom, and avoiding the monoculture of a single web engine.

Web standards are supposed to work everywhere the same. The result of having a vast majority with a single rendering engine is having pages use quirks of this engine and not following standards. (edit: also a security risk when a vulnerability affects most people)

The average user does not care but it should care. People like us should inform them since we can.

I was expecting a bit more than blaming google... The reason I stopped using firefox is because it became nothing more than a 'meh' chrome clone and slowly killed its ecosystem.

I find it pretty amusing that nobody is going to acknowledge the idea that maybe, just maybe, there's also a component of the fact that Firefox has simply fallen behind Chrome in many aspects, losing the preference of many developers and power users. They are far from the majority, but there are without a doubt cascading effects. Google's marketing is probably only getting more aggressive because there's going to be diminishing returns the further they go.

If you read the thread, you'll see that many people are discussing points on which it fell behind, sometimes on specific platforms and sometimes in general.

(Then again, your comment is 6 hours old, maybe it wasn't discussed yet back then.)

They argue they're privacy minded and then remove control from the user.

Everyone who doesn't care about control is just going to use chrome, edge or IE so going after that market is probably not a good use of resources.

I don't quite get the whole performance thing, chrome eats memory constantly and trashes the machine which is something firefox doesn't do. It's single threaded though so shitty pages will hang it.

I really don't think the author backed up their hypothesis here. I'd place a lot more of that blame on Mozilla's poor decision-making (detailed elsewhere in this thread) than any amount of google.com popups.

If I were to boil it all down, (and I say this with zero snark), I'd say that they have little to no differentiation with Chrome. It looks like Chrome, it will soon be no more powerful than Chrome, it's developed ignoring community input like Chrome, and the kiss of death: it performs worse than Chrome.

With all that in mind, why not just use Chrome like those popups suggest I should, and get a speed boost while I'm at it? (Note: open source politics do not factor into this)

I really want to like Firefox Android (addons are awesome!) and try it out every now and then, but every time I just end up uninstalling and reverting to Chrome.

The number one reason is that scroll seems to work differently to every single other app I have installed. It's "sticky" and doesn't feel native. It also takes a noticeable amount of time to render the page when scrolling quickly, which is not something I've ever noticed with Chrome. What gives?

I use Firefox on Android exclusively - because it has uBlock, and thanks to my country's carriers, I have very limited mobile data budget, that I can't afford to spend on ads.

The most annoying thing is that Firefox's tabs don't integrate with the normal Android mechanism of switching windows.

To be fair, neither does Chrome. Not for the past year or so at least.

That's probably because you can't do it without using special Google-only API - I don't know of any other Android app that could do it.

So this is a monopoly problem again.

It's true, Recents showing Task instances isn't the same as the integrated tabs feature

It is literally the same thing. You can download a third party browser called Chromer that opens every link as a separate task and see it for yourself.

It's based on Chrome custom tabs, which is a pluggable protocol. Firefox is working on support for it as well [1]. There doesn't seem to be any ongoing work to support per-tab tasks in Firefox for Android itself right now [2].

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1208655

[2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1098543

Chrome custom tabs have nothing at all to do with the Tasks from the activity model. Chromer doesn't do what the tabs in recent option does.

Supporting being a provider for Custom Tabs has nothing to do with being able to have your tabs show up in Recents. Are you an Android Dev?

> Chromer doesn't do what the tabs in recent option does.

Yes, it does. Which part do you not understand?

> Supporting being a provider for Custom Tabs has nothing to do with being able to have your tabs show up in Recents.

No, but if Firefox supported Custom Tabs, you could use it with Chromer.

I'm not asking if you're an Android dev to disparage you, I'm asking because the two features are outwardly very similar, but have internal differences. And you can use one to get a result that looks similar, but is not the same, as the other.

> I'm asking because the two features are outwardly very similar, but have internal differences.

Prove it, then. What are these "internal differences"?

Let me reiterate: there is literally nothing that relies on a proprietary or private API in the former Chrome merged apps and tabs implementation. Any app can do the same thing using completely public API's.

I've already linked the API's required to do this. I've linked a third party app that provides the exact same functionality. Which part is unclear to you?

Its quite surprising that Google has avoided anti-trust scrutiny for as long as it has.

EU seems more on top there than USA. And frankly USA seems unwilling to engage any kind of antitrust against tech companies since the anemic slap on the wrist Microsoft got.

I've been a firm Firefox on Android user for years, but I recently switched to Brave. While Desktop performance is acceptable, Android cold-launch performance is very bad, and Chromium-based browser beat it to the punch. And the native (implemented in C++) adblocking means better performance than uBlock Origin.

Too bad, I really liked Firefox Sync, it was such a superior solution (for privacy, at least).

Yeah i have noticed this cold launch issue myself.

So not true. I try Firefox once in a while, but Chrome still is more responsive and has the better UI -> better UX.

Basically i am waiting for a Servo-based browser which will hopefully change the UX in favor of Mozilla again.

Oh, and PLEASE Mozilla. Unify that f* search toolbar into the adress bar, already. It's stupid.

You can remove the search bar, as the address already acts as a search bar. (the "customize" menu)

edit: but sometimes the separate search bar is useful eg. when searching wikipedia instead of google? maybe it's just not your use case, I know it's not mine, I just append "wiki" to my searches, but we have to consider many different users.

I used Firefox since it was called Phoenix in 2002. Fifteen years. None of my friends or acquaintances used Firefox. I was the last man standing.

I switched to Vivaldi last month due to webextensions breaking fully functional mouse gestures in the Firegestures addon. They finally forced me away. Thankfully Vivaldi exists!

I'm using firefox 50 until it's not safe to do so. When the time comes, it's going to be hard to choose from bad & worse.

Firefox is the only browser out there that supports text-only page zooming! And until recently, the only browser that supported these total-conversion extensions like Vimperator.

There are chrome extensions (which also work in Vivaldi) to do text-only zoom. I haven't tried them and can't vouch for them, though.

Before Vivaldi added customizable mouse gestures, my plan was to stick to a Firefox fork that will still support XUL addons, like Pale Moon. That's my suggestion, if the text zoom addon doesn't work and your use-case really needs that.

Pale Moon might be my refuge too. Currently it looks like a minor hassle but if/when Firefox does south...

I don't use Firefox that much because I'm mostly on macOS, but every time I use Windows and I open Firefox it seems more snappy again. I am making sure nobody in my family uses Chrome because it's a resource hog and effectively helps the same kind of monopoly we had with Internet Explorer.

I love the chart that goes from -7% to -22%

it cuts off exactly where you would think there's ten times fewer Firefox users

Extensions are tipping in favor of Chrome. Many of the extensions I use are Chrome only.

Long term FF user here. I still use it as I stand behind the independence, but ... I have found FF speed and stability gradually lacking. What was once a fast and lean browser has turned into a behemoth. Of course, part of it is beyond their control as it seems more and more publishers only QA on Chrome nowadays leaving FF behavior in the 'hope and pray' category of UX. I'll stick with it for now, but saying I'm at the verge of switching wouldn't be far from the truth. If it were not for the ideological, I would have switched to Chrome long time ago.

For me, the compelling feature of Firefox over chrome is that using Firefox portable, I can avoid company policy and configure proxy to bypass bluecoat filter.

> This explains why the market share decline of Firefox has accelerated so dramatically the last 12 months despite Firefox getting much better during the same time window.

(this quote is from the article, in reference to Google aggressively advertising Chrome)

I'm pretty sure that all the ads mentioned in the article have been around for far longer than 12 months. What else might have happened 12 months ago to influence the decline?

The reality is that for a while, Chrome was simply a better browser. Extensions "just worked", it silently auto-updated (huge for non technical users), was very secure (anti-phishing), it came with Flash, sandboxing from day 1, etc...

I installed Chrome on the PCs of family members and it was trouble free for them. No need to update Flash separately, no random crashes, the anti-phishing is great, too.

I really wish Google's Chrome spam wasn't "working" because I am so tired of it (and anything like it). This is a variation of the "Here's what's new in the app that you didn't know you updated!" dialogs that developers seem to like now.

If I could have software and services not totally derail what I was trying to do, that would be greaaaaaat.

Since my 10AM EST blog post comment has not been approved . I'll paste it here:

"...the “falling off the cliff” is just the snowball effect of bad management and decisions made many years ago. Its to late now to stop the bleeding as-is. The solution is right there, although obvious, its probably to much for Mozilla to undertake at this point."

Well maybe if they updated their shitty UI, I would be inclined to install it. Why can’t firefox combine the search and address bar like every other major browser? Why can’t Firefox ditch their slow animations, buttons, menus, and do with less skeumorphisms? They need a serious refresh if I were to ever start using it again.

> Why can’t firefox combine the search and address bar like every other major browser?

Because they don't want to send all your keystrokes in the URL to your search provider just so you can get autosuggest. So there is one bar that does autosuggest and a different bar where you can put things that your search provider should not see.

Obviously Chrome doesn't have that problem, since they _want_ your search provider to see all the URLs you visit.

You can combine them and then turn off search autocomplete. Seems like the best option for me.

Except users actually want search autocomplete.

If you personally don't, then you can combine them yourself in Firefox right away: just remove the search bar entirely via the normal UI customization mechanism, and use only the URL bar, which doesn't do search autocomplete.

Note that the URL bar does search autocomplete now (new in 55 maybe?).

Hmm. It doesn't seem to in 54, but you're right that it does in a 55 beta. If that's the case, then there's really no point to two separate bars. Looks like https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1344928 is where the behavior change happened.

Based on the diffs there, looks like the 55 feature can at least be turned off by setting the "browser.urlbar.suggest.searches" preference to false... (That preference doesn't affect the search bar.) Also looks like there's preferences UI for this (the "Show search suggestions in location bar results" checkbox).

There's also a dropdown showing up the first time you use the url bar. Depending on the value set for browser.urlbar.suggest.searches on that first run, the dropdown will either tell you about suggestions with a button leading to the prefs where you can disable them, or ask you whether you want to enable or disable them.

I think there were talks about not presenting the search box for new profiles, too, but it looks like that hasn't happened yet.

> Why can’t firefox combine the search and address bar like every other major browser?

They have. Try typing "test test" in the address bar and hit enter. If you mind the separate field, hit menu -> customize -> drag the field away -> hit done. Then have a beer.

> Why can’t Firefox ditch their slow animations

On mobile? No idea. On desktop? Which ones? Might it be a Windows thing that I don't notice on Debian?

> buttons

Wait what? You mean the, like, five buttons that are left in the interface by default (menu button, new tab button, and some in the toolbar)? I added extra ones myself for things like enabling/disabling flash, user agent switcher, etc. but besides that, I don't think Chromium does any better on that.

> menus

There is one menu... I don't know what you're talking about.

Their buttons and menus are slow, and clicking the three bar button at the very right usually results in a stuttery menu.

For me it appears instantly with no animation. I'm using Debian Stretch on some sluggish (though recent) Intel i5 CPU.

Check back in November. Literally all of those things are in progress and scheduled for Firefox 57.

I think the new UI looks quite good, here is a screenshot from an install of nightly with the dark theme http://i.imgur.com/LVZSyTS.png.

I know how much better Chrome is yet i stick with Firefox all because of the idea of a free web.

It is slow. the ui sucks. it looks dated. it crashes far too often and eats up loads of mem. Don't blame Google for its ads, the problems are homegrown. Its sad to say this but i guess i will turn my back on it too if things dont change.

One of the issues I see with Firefox is that they did some stupid stuff like Pocket, Hello and this awful Australis UI that as a result alienated a lot of power users.

Power users are Firefox's best chance at regaining market share, and some of those users are now gone as a result of Mozilla's stupid decisions.

For me at least Firefox have been burning bridges like crazy.

The change in UI to Australis i could deal with, as it could be mitigated with extensions.

But "recently" they changed to GTK3 on *nix, and are now in the process of making extensions less potent.

All this makes it harder to continue using Firefox where it used to be the flagship browser.

Here is a view of browser market share with detectable bot traffic removed.


Firefox is dropping, but not collapsing. And my opinion as to the primary reason why is the Yahoo default search.

It strikes me that the reason Firefox rose to prominence in the first place was because of the same thing: web sites all over put banners on the top of their pages (for IE users), saying something like "You should upgrade to a modern browser".

The difference is that in those days, it was the developers of many different web sites doing it. I did it on many sites I worked on. We were sick of working in IE and wanted a browser that followed web standards we could all use.

I don't think Chrome's dominance is a bad thing. Because if Chrome ever breaks the web for developers, we'll just do it all over again (or force Chrome to follow us, as we did with NaCL vs. WebAssembly).

Maybe Firefox is slow on Linux but on Windows I don't notice a difference between it and Chrome. If anything FF starts faster on my Win10 box. The UI is just as snappy and I vastly prefer FFs settings dialogs to the kid gloves one in Chrome.

Also can't remember the last time FF crashed on me (and I usually have hundreds of tabs open for weeks/months on end).

Dev tools are a toss up but I tend to use the ones in FF more than Chrome, probably simply out of habit.

Once servo becomes mainline (and assuming it delivers on its promise) I can't see why anyone would choose anything other than FF.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ works for me

Edit: I'm not big on extensions but do have a few installed: session manager, foxyproxy, one tab and fireshot.

> Maybe Firefox is slow on Linux but on Windows I don't notice a difference between it and Chrome.

I really think this is a big part of the discrepancy in opinions of performance here. In my own experience, Firefox on Linux just has sluggish responsiveness. It doesn't happen everywhere, and sometimes the effect feels cumulative (depending on how long the process has been running). I've also found the occasional website (usually forums) where the text input box is painfully sluggish in Firefox (for no good reason), while its just fine and dandy in Chrome.

Now I've also run Firefox on Windows, where it seems quite snappy and I don't really have any performance complaints.

(Of course there's also the part where "hip web designers" are now treating Chrome like the modern MSIE6, which probably affects "internal" sites more than public-facing ones. But that's a topic for rants elsewhere in this thread.)

Do wonder if it has anything to do with their switch of GTK version "recently"...

FF is great on Windows but slow on OS X. I really wanted to use it but it was maybe 10x slower for heavy JS pages. The whole browser would hang all the time from JS.

I still use it on Windows but had to switch back to Chrome on my MacBook.

Chrome has other advantages as well.

If you buy into the Google Suite then you get synched profiles. Firefox has the same but the account is only useful for keeping Firefox in sync whereas Google's also give you access to all their other products, plus oauth to third party services.

Google Chrome exists inside of an ecosystem, which means that is stays simple. On the other hand, Mozilla has a tendency of treating the browser as a goal in itself, which is understandable but creates things like the Pocket extension and other UX complexities.

Android's unremovable Google search doesn't open the default browser but presents the result in a Chrome WebViewer.

> If you buy into the Google Suite then you get synched profiles. Firefox has the same but the account is only useful for keeping Firefox in sync whereas Google's also give you access to all their other products, plus oauth to third party services.

That's the exact reason some of us avoid Chrome :)

Especially as Google have locked whole accounts because it was found to violate the TOS for one of their services...

I was a firefox fan until recently. I guess it was firefox 51 or so and I switched to chromium purely for usability and performance sake. The page loading and bookmarks management was horrible at that point. Not sure how it is now.

Returning to a browser monoculture would be a loss for the web and its users.

> Firefox’s decline is not an engineering problem

possibly. however for me, technical problems are why i avoid it in general.

i still use it a bit, as i'm lazy about switching between user accounts with various services and separate browsers makes this easy.

sadly, nearly every day firefox will crash, often when i'm not even using it. it happens so often i don't even get annoyed anymore... it's just normal. my system is a fairly new build and nothing else crashes (or at least, so infrequently i don't recall anything).

Came here to quote the same sentence and post a similar reply. I've been using Firefox forever, esp. b/c of some of the extensions, but it just isn't stable, reliable, or performance-oriented anymore. Chrome is more stable, snappier, and smoother.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Firefox, but the reality is that Firefox's engineering is inferior when compared to Chrome or Safari IMO. To deny this is perhaps illustrative of why Mozilla's browser is suffering. It crashes, it leaks, it sputters, it freezes. It's shameful and embarrassing.

Do you mind looking in about:crashes and pointing to some of the crash reports involved? I normally have multi-week uptimes in Firefox before I remember to restart just so I can get an update... I would really like to try to figure out why you're seeing so many crashes.

> ...Firefox Desktop is probably headed for extinction over the next couple years,...

Yikes! I hope that was an exaggeration! I'm a long-time Firefox user on desktop and mobile, and I certainly don't want to see it die on the desktop.

I prefer FF both because of the motivations behind the browser, and because on Android it supports extensions, making it much more useful to me.

I do wish they'd release an iOS version that had the ad blocking of Firefox Focus, and the tabs and Sync and such from regular Firefox.

It is really a shame as Firefox is really great to use these days. I've noticed that when switching back from safari and chrome. I now use it both on macOS, Linux and on my iOS devices, where I mostly use Firefox Klar for privacy. I find the the sync feature is very useful (bookmarks, history, passwords) and I trust Mozilla more than I do google. Those notices though, when I do use google services are frustrating and annoying, not to say off putting.

Google has been pushing chrome on their sites for years. Firefox's drop in desktop is recent. So just marketing can't be the explanation.

It's way more aggressive now. I have also dismissed the convert to 'youtube red' popup like 20 times now and the damn thing keeps coming up on the phone. I never expected my phone to be infested with marketing and ad popups like this :/

Some Google services don't work properly on Firefox or show annoying banners. It is just a pain. I just moved to chromium.

I've been a loyal Firefox user since the earliest couple versions. Something like 12-13 years or whatever. I like the interface more than Chrome, among a few other things about how it operates.

I can't leave Firefox open on even simple pages, without it consuming ~5% or more of the processor with one tab doing nothing. If I open numerous tabs, forget about it, Firefox will eat the processor (brand new machine, i5-7400, new Firefox install). I can leave Chrome running almost perpetually without problems with tons of tabs open. Right now I've got seven tabs open in Firefox, and it's consuming 706mb of ram, for a few stackoverflow pages and HN. I've had that resource abuse problem with Firefox essentially since the beginning, across a lot of varied PC systems.

Over the last year I've gradually stopped using Firefox because I can't stand its horrible performance any longer.

This is exactly the opposite of what I experience; Chrome eats up 6GB of memory with a couple dozen tabs open, but I can have as many and more active in Firefox on 2GB (and over 1000 tabs open but inactive – leftovers from when tab groups were removed… that was a shame). Firefox just also feels faster in general.

I am using the developer edition instead of stable, though, and there have been a lot of somewhat recent improvements; maybe that accounts for the difference.

I originally switched to Chrome soon after it came out because it was fast.

I still use it today because usability wise it's just better for me.

I can't for the life of me get used to a separate search box. The "omnibar" is simply fantastic. Coupled with turning off "search suggestions" in the Settings, you have a wiki on hand pretty much. Anything you type will match a personal bookmark, or a personal search. Or title of a page visited earlier. This means I don't need to make bookmark in many cases. I can also manage omnibar to give optimal results by making random, useless searches in a private window, which again, is so easy to use in Google Chrome (Ctrl Shift N). And then if a search match is inconvenient for speed or just not useful anymore, just shift+del to remove it.

Firefox completelty lost me when I looked back and it was like version "52" instead of the version 14 or something I was one, just a year or two later. I was like "what the hell??" "WOW what are all these amazings updates they made?" Only to realize barely anything changed at all.

And lately they just lost me completely as a developer. They wanted to integrate the Firebug extension, arguably the most useful aspect of Firefox for developers. I kept using Firefox for firebug for years, while Chrome was my main browser. But since they integrated it, it just performs worse. It's so damn slow and unusable, meanwhile Google console just gets better and better.

Dear Mozilla team, I for a change think Chrome is better browser than Firefox.

I am not talking about the performance of JavaScript, compliance with standards or developer tools, no, I am talking about Firefox's outdated UI and inconsistent user experience. Chrome is slick and fast while FF often lags, wastes space in the tabs and address bar and confuses me with additional search bar.

I've seen people frequently say that they don't use Firefox because Chrome is faster, and despite being a Firefox user myself, it's close to what I've noticed. In Chrome (on GNU/Linux and mobile at least), pages seem to load instantly. I don't know why that is, but apparently it's not just me who has noticed this. Meanwhile, the most frequent complaint about Chrome is RAM usage, and only when using many tabs. Most people don't use many tabs.

It's a shame that Chrome which appears to be on track to become the most popular browser by a considerable margin is proprietary software. And before I get a reply telling me that Chromium exists, I know that - but I also know that it's not Chromium that's popular.

I think it is also a shame for two more reasons: Mozilla wants to make Firefox look like Chrome, probably to replicate features which seem to draw users in, by changing the extensions API to make it less powerful, by supporting standardised DRM in the browser (though this is a different issue) etc. Secondly, we may see a world in which only Webkit matters, and standards no longer rule, similar to the situation with Internet Explorer years ago. This will also put pressure on Mozilla and other "third party" browser authors to support features just because Webkit supports them, or even to break standard features so that they render like they do in Webkit.

I'd probably get shouted at for thinking it would become a "monopoly", but that's exactly what it is, just not in the legal sense.

[Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla, but I'm not involved in Firefox decision making]

> Mozilla wants to make Firefox look like Chrome, probably to replicate features which seem to draw users in

This is false IMO

> by changing the extensions API to make it less powerful

This is not about copying Chrome. This is about moving off of an API which was effectively "our entire codebase is your public API, here, have fun", which is horrible for making it easy to evolve the codebase. We had this problem with electrolysis (multiprocess firefox) already, lots of addons broke because of it. Additionally, the base of this API is XUL, which is a technology many want to phase out.

Firefox is using the same base extension API as Chrome. It's a sensible choice -- if you're going to design an extensions API from scratch, why not standardize the base so that many extensions become interoperable. The base manifest format and most of the normal APIs from Chrome are the same, however the new system has many other APIs which chrome doesn't have, and the intent is to continue adding these so that most of the former very powerful extensions are still possible. But I'm already using extensions that won't work in Chrome because Chrome doesn't expose that functionality.

> by supporting standardised DRM in the browser

If Netflix didn't work in the browser Firefox would not have any users left.

Mozilla fought this battle, and lost.

> > by changing the extensions API to make it less powerful

> This is not about copying Chrome. This is about moving off of an API which was effectively "our entire codebase is your public API, here, have fun"

But at the same time it also breaks access to non-mozilla things, i.e. external libraries and the operating system (e.v. via js-ctypes). Which means it becomes more difficult to interact with native, which turns the browser more into a non-interoperating silo.

It also prevents valid use-cases such as modifying the UI, download management, implementing novel network protocols (think ipfs) and integrating it with the internal network request APIs.

While the arguments for webextensions are clear to me the no-compromise approach is not. There are no escape hatches that are conceptually comparable to sudo, rust's unsafe blocks, phone unlocking or whatever.

Mozilla was fairly loudly warned by developers that this will hurt specific addons and exclude entire categories of addon features and they went ahead anyway. In other words they did choose to make their addon system less useful. I don't think this can be argued away.

> I don't think this can be argued away.

I'm not arguing that away.

I'm saying that it doesn't imply firefox is copying Chrome.

There are tradeoffs here. The team weighed them and made a decision. It was not about copying Chrome.

> It also prevents valid use-cases such as modifying the UI, download management, implementing novel network protocols (think ipfs) and integrating it with the internal network request APIs.

Not necessarily, webextension APIs that provide better scoped hooks to this can be added. Except perhaps the novel network protocols one. But it depends.

> Not necessarily, webextension APIs that provide better scoped hooks to this can be added.

That mere possibility does not alter the fact that upon release of FF57 a long-tail set of features will unavailable at that given point, in other words there will be a decline and mozilla might work over time to win back some fraction of that decline.

The net effect compared to today is still a decline in features, which is what will be perceived.

Without escape hatches this system will always be inferior in its versatility. Which is why most runtimes do have escape hatches, they admit that any provided APIs will never be sufficient for all valid uses.

Escape hatches are provided by WebExtensions Experiments.


You can't bundle those with an extension and get it published on release.

They only function for prototyping things and hoping mozilla will bless them eventually.

Then what is the real story? I have the same impression as OP: FF seems to spend most of it's time playing "me too" with Chrome, while blatantly ignoring what the users are requesting.

It's frustrating because I really want FF to succeed, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot. If they aren't following with Chrome, they why do so many of their decisions end up mirroring Chrome after Chrome has made their decision?

Which decisions? The only one I can think of is Web Extensions, and like I said, the reason behind that is not to copy Chrome, but because the old system was _terrible_ and hindered progress, and since they needed something new anyway, basing it off of Chrome was a way to get a large set of new addons working on it off the bat.

In addition to web-extensions (which could have been handled waaaaay better IMO if that was their goal):

The general UI and their overall design philosophy

shelling out data to places that I don't approve of (pocket/ga)

rapid releases

toggle-able options

> The general UI and their overall design philosophy


> shelling out data to places that I don't approve of (pocket/ga)

Pocket was not shelling out data, Pocket was an addition of an add on by default, one which did nothing unless you tried to use it (and if you did you'd have to sign in to a 3rd party site -- it's all pretty obvious)

Mozilla has a deal with GA that restricts the data collected. https://github.com/mozilla/addons-frontend/issues/2785#issue...

The data collected is IIRC only aggregate numbers.

Neither of these are "copying Chrome", they're just "things you don't like"

> rapid releases

The web is evolving pretty fast too. This has become necessary over time.

> toggle-able options

no idea what you mean here

Just because they are making one change that isn't exactly like Chrome doesn't mean that they aren't generally copying Chrome . That very much looks like the general design philosophy that they are borrowing from Chrome.

I know you had to "turn on" pocket. That doesn't counter my argument.

I also don't care what agreement FF with Chrome. It's still shitty to do, especially if your selling point is privacy. Having a special agreement doesn't make doing shady things with your user's data OK.

But I don't see how they aren't "copying Chrome". One of them is using another product that is made by the same creator as Chrome, the other copying the "here's a feature that nobody wants that sends your data elsewhere" which, AFAIK, they didn't do before Chrome started doing it.

I strongly disagree that rapid releases are necessary. What issue came up that needed to be implemented within one FF release cycle?

toggle-able options were way back when FF used to have different settings in the options page where you could make changes to the UI, functionality, etc. Almost all of those are gone now for a "simplified" set of options.

>I know you had to "turn on" pocket. That doesn't counter my argument.

Kinda does, especially since Google never used pocket?

> they didn't do before Chrome started doing it.

Chrome uses GA for general telemetry IIRC, a feature which Firefox has basically always had. Firefox's telemetry is much more privacy conscious (it collects very basic numbers and nothing personally identifiable). I'm not sure why about:addons decided to use GA instead of Firefox, but this isn't "copying something Google did first".

These are decisions which you may not agree with, but you're reaching when you describe them as "copying Chrome".

> toggle-able options were way back when FF used to have different settings in the options page where you could make changes to the UI, functionality, etc. Almost all of those are gone now for a "simplified" set of options.

about:config still exists. Most options are still there under advanced in settings. The UI is even more configurable, because themes exist and you can drag-drop UI elements to other parts of the browser.

>> I know you had to "turn on" pocket. That doesn't counter my argument.

> Kinda does, especially since Google never used pocket?

Pocket also gave way to a new type of add-on that's impossible to remove and installs silently. They do show up in about:support, at least, but only as names [1]. I feel like that whole episode was treated very poorly by Mozilla, with a lot of misinformation [2] and reasonable documentation requests being ignored [3].

[1] what's even "presentation@mozilla.org"?

[2] https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mozilla.governance/2PYq2w8te...

[3] e.g. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1179699

IIRC that kind of addon always existed. Some kinds of browser functionality was implemented that way.

It doesn't exactly "install silently", it's there by default. Just like the code for the bookmarks toolbar is there by default. It uses the addons API, is all.

The Presentation addon IIRC handles some prompts for https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Presentatio...

I'm not sure why it's structured as an addon, but it's basically browser functionality.

I'm not sure how to read the Go Faster docs [1]. I undestand that they can get updated silently, but it doesn't say anything about pushing new ones. I assume that's also possible, as it totally makes sense, but I don't have any proof.

The Go Faster initiative seems to have started around June 2015 [2] with Pocket being one of the first users [3] [4].

> The Presentation addon IIRC handles some prompts

Thanks for the information.

[1] https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Go_Faster/When_To_Use_Syste...

[2] https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Go_Faster/Meetings

[3] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1215694

[4] This first comment in #1215694 has a nice Orwellian tinge: "We're moving pocket to a built-in addon. This will facilitate user choice [...]". We all know how that went.

> but it doesn't say anything about pushing new ones. I assume that's also possible, as it totally makes sense, but I don't have any proof.

I don't think they can be

> with Pocket being one of the first users [3] [4].

So were Hello/Loop. I think you've got the cause-effect backwards here. It seems to have started off as a way to add experimental features that needed a different update cycle (before Test Pilot existed). Now that Test Pilot exists all of these addons are basically for core browser functionality (e.g. the dev tools may move to this model at some point). So right now it's just a way of shipping code with a different release cycle, and being used for things that would otherwise be baked into the browser itself.

Anyway, this is super off topic.

> changing the extensions API to make it less powerful

Changing the extensions API to decouple it from the browser's internals, allowing long-needed refactoring, a move to multiple processes, sandboxing, etc.

And because the old extensions API must be completely scrapped (and ought to have been scrapped years ago), it makes more sense to replace it with a new thing that's compatible with other browsers rather than a new thing that only works with Firefox.

Firefox isn't simply aping Chrome, even visually. The next UI refresh is going to look more different, not more similar. https://www.primeinspiration.com/mozilla-firefox-getting-new... The extensions API is being changed to disengage addons from the guts of the browser, which will let the team make bigger changes to CPU- and RAM-hungry areas of the codebase. The new extensions API has had a huge amount of work put into it to expand it before the old-API cutoff around November. The point is to make the browser perform better, not to make it less capable.

Whether it's the point or not, making the browser less capable is exactly what is happening.

There was a point about 7 or 8 years ago where Firefox was my favorite browser. It was the scrappy upstart that was better than IE in every single way - and look, plugins!

I had a decent plugin load, including a bunch of stuff not in the store, could skin the UI (anyone remember "Classic Compact"?) to shrink down the more annoying UI elements, use vim key bindings, and a bunch of other stuff I can't even remember anymore. I had to scroll two or three pages to list them all.

Slowly, they started taking that power away from me.

Slowly, the UI started becoming more obnoxious.

Slowly, the performance got worse and worse.

The moment Chrome got a decent ad blocker, I left and never looked back. Firefox is basically turning itself into a Chrome clone, with a side of user hostility and ancient bugs.

And they have only themselves to blame.

Yeah, I have 15 extensions running right now. You can still get full themes (called "complete themes", not the skins they call "themes"), and there's even a "compact" category. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/complete-themes/com... Not having abilities like vimperator is a bug https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1320332 I can't deny that the new API doesn't have enough power, but that's temporary. Being Chrome-like and having weak extensions are not goals. There's even a meta-bug that tracks new proposed functions that Chrome doesn't have. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1215059

Thanks for the link to the themes page (I must have overlooked that and thought they blew up the theme system outright), and there are a couple of promising ones I'm looking at now.

That said, given the treatment of how some other bugs are handled, especially one particularly noxious one regarding dupe SSL certs that's been kicking around for nearly a decade now that renders Firefox unusable for technical enterprise users, the fact that it's filed in their tracker doesn't mean much, and their classification of that bug as "(REOPENED bug which will not be worked on by staff, but a patch will be accepted)" tells me that compatibility isn't that much of a priority internally.

Why not let it bake a little longer and then release it? Surely Firefox won't turn into a pumpkin if they fail to push it out the door by November?

> by supporting standardised DRM in the browser

Firefox is trying to avoid losing marketshare and you're complaining about a big usability win. In what way could causing every video service on the planet to start steering users towards Chrome/Edge/Safari help that?

(Yes, I realize we don't like DRM but normal people are far more concerned about not having to do anything other than click play on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/etc.)

"normal people" should learn not to use shitty services like Netflix and friends. Maybe by putting a big red warning when someone visits their page or something.

Do you think going all comic book guy is going to anything? Netflix has 100M subscribers so you might start by thinking about what so many people find worth paying for.

Learning the answer to that question will also show you why this attitude is completely ineffectual in the fight against DRM.

There's also a far bigger difference: Chrome looks native (with elements of Material Design mixed in) on every platform. Meanwhile, Firefox aims to have the same Firefoxy look on every platform. Users definitely notice this and choose accordingly.

Using your dominant position in one sector to push your products in others is the exact kind of behavior that gets you tagged as a monopoly in the legal sense of the term.

> Mozilla wants to make Firefox look like Chrome, probably to replicate features which seem to draw users in, by changing the extensions API to make it less powerful

The current Firefox marketshare is a predictable outcome of that strategy; by eliminating everything that made Firefox distinct from Chrome, they've made made going with the biggest, most well-funded version of Chrome the most reasonable choice. It has resulted in a Chrome monopoly, but there's really no way to prevent it: even when given a explicit choice between Chrome and mostly-Chrome, people will usually choose Chrome.

edit: After the elimination of the old-style extensions, I've run out of distinct features that justify sticking with Firefox, and am left with pure ideology. An ideology that I don't even think that Mozilla places any importance in anymore, so I might as well be using Chromium.

Indeed. The one thing that got a relative of mine to go Chrome was that the flash games on Facebook performed "better".

Now and again I'll try switching to Firefox but it's just incredibly sluggish compared to Chrome so I end up switching back.

Chrome is just a (much) better product. Combination of building a better product and a lot of advertising.

Not included in these numbers are installs of Trisquel's Abrowser and The Tor Project's TorBrowser. Both are rebadged Firefox and neither one is downloaded from or phones home to Mozilla. I don't suggest that this would make much difference to the numbers.

Are Chromium installs counted in the Chrome count as well?

I would be glad to use firefox on Windows, but there are installation problems, after install the browser crashes on any attempt to use it (on my Linux VM it works just fine).

The firefox people should take care of such details when they deal with the most widely used desktop OS.

I'm not sure that it's reasonable to blame Firefox for this issue. I use Firefox on Windows 7, 8 and 10 without issue; the installation went without a hitch.

O wonder, just tried again with firefox 54.0.1 and install worked fine on windows. Thanks.

I'm a firefox user for a very very long time - i do not remember using IE or Chrome for any serious time - i'm using mac for a decade now and not even safari ! Have never found firefox disturbing my dev work anyday. Will continue to use firefox.

I want to use firefox, I really do. But I can distinguish when it's running and when it's not by my macbook fan noise. And yes I've tried all kinds of clean ups. but it just sits there on the background consuming 40% of a cpu while doing nothing.

For an opposing anecdote, I do not have this problem at all. Firefox is always snappy and uses less memory than Chrome on my Macbook.

Is it a retina macbook? Because I think that's one of the problems.

Also: connecting a 4k monitor to your Macbook to run Firefox on and things will get hot real fast.

Shame really, I love Firefox but keep coming back to Safari because of the CPU usage.

about:performance can now help you figure out what's going on.

Forefox installation numbers maybe declining, but how does it compare with any browser install? Maybe desktop growth has stagnated, maybe with always updating OS and Firefox itself, people just don't need to "install" Firefox anymore?

Not sure why you're downvoted. This is a question I feel stupid for not thinking of myself.

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with breaking extensions once again.

I can only speak for myself but I didn't leave Firefox for Chrome because of advertising. I left because a year ago Firefox was painful to use. Sync was (might still be?) incomplete, setting up quick searches was annoying, font rendering was poor, HiDPI support was crap, overall performance was noticeably slower than Chrome and they announced killing off advanced XPCOM based extensions so I figured I would just change over now rather than later.

Firefox looses marketshare because they hired talentless GUI designers who made thing not better, but actually worse

> Mozilla publishes aggregated Firefox usage data in form of Active Daily Installs (ADIs) here (Update: looks like the site requires a login now. It used to be available publicly for years and was public until a few days ago). The site is a bit clumsy and you can look at individual days only so I wrote some code to fetch the data for the last 3 years so its easier to analyze (link).

These two things are probably related :)

I love you Firefox, but you're horrible on retina screens. Just scrolling takes 2 times as many CPU cycles when compared to Safari. It's troubling because I'm the biggest Firefox supporter I know and even I switch to Safari when I hear the CPU fan spinning.

I don't use Firefox because it's a power hog compared to Safari.

One thing the author didn't touch upon is the amount of manpower available on both sides. I am under the impression that Google has much less people involved in the construction of their browsers.

I didn't switch from Firefox to Chromium because Google puts the "Chrome" name all over the place. I did the switch because Chrome is 2x faster than Firefox.

Firefox: please lower the priority of the religious stuff (Rust, etc.), and increase the priority for actual work involving better user experience.

Prevent Javascript from running HTML5 videos and I will switch in a heartbeat.

But I guess Mozilla is just as corrupt as Google...

firefox is important.

don't let it fall

> monopoly position in Internet services such as Google Mail, Google Calendar and YouTube


Name one video site that has anywhere near the usage level of YouTube.

Twitch. Not for hours viewed but because they seemingly have a lock on their corner of the market. That Youtube has spent so much on game streaming, and still failing, is a sign that competition exists.

For live video, yes, but even a many twitch highlight reels still end up back on youtube.

I agree that YouTube is the strongest example of the three, but I don't see how to defend the idea of a Gmail or GCal monopoly. It's hard for me to take the author objectively after that.

Facebook. I don't know how close it is, and I'm sure YouTube is still substantially ahead, but Facebook must be significant in terms of # viewed. Certainly quite different video content, though.

NPR just reported last week that the ratio of hours watched on Youtube to Facebook is 10:1 right now.

That's "success", not "monopoly". To be the latter you need to show that the big player is preventing the entrance of new competitors to the market. The existence of a robust and competetive ecosystem alongside Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, (even smaller players like Imgur, Reddit, Gyfcat) etc... indicates that "video hosting" isn't really a monopoly.

Seriously, everyone who is anyone is streaking headlong into a play for video hosting. If Google has a monopoly here they're managing it extraordinarily badly.

> That's "success", not "monopoly". To be the latter you need to show that the big player is preventing the entrance of new competitors to the market.

No, what you're describing is monopoly abuse.

The tech industry is going to have to come to term that it's comprised of fundamentally winner-takes-all markets. The economies of scale the winner can get are tremendous, while the spending efforts are relatively low for software. So it's basically a monopoly machine. The only way this is countered is that new markets keep being created, so that helps new entrants.

If this is to change then someone needs to develop a method to request content by content and not by provider. If links to videos specified a particular video you wanted to show rather than the video on a particular provider, then providers could compete to deliver the best service to a particular set of customers.

You mean magnet links?

> The economies of scale the winner can get are tremendous

Once more, though: how do you take that frame and then explain the success of Instagram, which launched straight into the face of the unbreakable monopoly you posit?

Snapchat had temporary success as well. So much for that.

We never got to see what would have happened to Instagram, had Facebook gone on to compete with it over time with a cloned product (or perhaps some other purchased competitor that might have sprung up to take on Instagram).

One of the most critical powers of a monopoly (with the typical profits that go with such), is its ability to acquire the smaller competition - frequently at high prices - that threatens it. Which is why Facebook was willing to pay such a seemingly immense sum for WhatsApp (a product with essentially zero sales). And it's why they would have happily paid a lot more for Instagram (another product with no sales) if they had demonstrated continued growth.

Wait... how can Google and Facebook both be monopolies in the same market?

Again, you're saying that "big" competitors have advantages, which no one sane disagrees with. Nonetheless that's not what antitrust law is about, and whinging about "monopoly" as a synonym for "big" just leads to pointless arguments like this one.

Instagram is a new, focused product. Essentially a new market.

Also, I said that tech markets tend to reach (quickly) a monopoly situations. But even if it's very fast, it does not mean it's instant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr were all created in the same 10-year time span.

Windows was (is) considered a monopoly despite having a rock-solid competitor in macOS. Monopolies don't necessarily mean absolute control of the market, having the ability to significantly sway it (say 80% marketshare) is also considered a monopoly or at least monopolistic.

I think the legal term is antitrust. Bringing up the term monopoly seems to always make people assume something with 100% marketshare. The only thing needed to come under antitrust scrutiny is to be in a position that allows said entity to warp market behavior, be it by bundling, price fixing, or some other means.

Arguments about Apple's and Netscape's ability to compete were actually core to the windows antitrust case. It wasn't about market share.

Again: an argument that Google is exploiting a monopoly in video needs to be able to explain why Instagram et. al. were so successful in the face of it.


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