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Firefox Quantum: The New Face of Web Browsing Speed

Mozilla announced a brand new browser today called Firefox Quantum. Designed on a completely new web engine, Mozilla claims that its new browser will not only outpace Chrome, but crush it in terms of memory use.

Google’s Chrome browser is known for using up gobs of RAM, especially once you start to accumulate tabs. Firefox claims that Quantum will be able to handle an equal amount of punishment while using 30 percent less memory than Chrome—a joy for all the tab fiends out there.

Did you ditch Firefox a while ago after feeling that it was slowing down compared to rival browsers like Chrome? Mozilla is determined to win you back. As promised, the Firefox Quantum (aka Firefox 57) — and it promises to be much faster than you’re used to. The company claims its newest browser is over twice as fast as the version from 6 months ago thanks to both a new, multi-core CSS engine, tab prioritization and the elimination of bugs that were weighing the software down. Whether or not it’s actually faster depends on the sites you’re visiting, but it does appear snappy in some quick testing.

Aside from a smaller memory footprint, Quantum renders pages with lightning speed. Mozilla claims that Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox 52 in Speedometer 2.0, but doesn’t boast about Quantum’s speed against Chrome. In my quick test, Quantum seems to load pages on par with the latest Chrome 62—but that may be due to my insane internet connection.

One new useful feature in Quantum is its ability to quickly search using any search engine you want. As you type a query in the address bar, Quantum displays instant results, as well as show buttons for various engines. Google remains Quantum’s default search.

Thankfully, Quantum doesn’t lean exclusively on speed to draw you in. There’s a new interface that’s both more streamlined (a lot of the visual fluff has been stripped away) and should look sharp on very high-resolution displays. It should be better at scaling in the future, to boot. And if it wasn’t already clear that Mozilla owns Pocket, it is now. When you open a new tab, you’ll see Pocket’s story recommendations alongside shortcuts to your most visited sites.

The new version is available now for Linux, Mac and Windows users. Whether or not it moves the needle is another matter. Web browser usage share has remained relatively stable for a while, particularly for Firefox (about 13.1 percent as of October, according to NetMarketshare) and for Chrome (59.8 percent). In other words, browser habits are relatively entrenched — it might take a fundamental change in user perception for those numbers to shift in a significant way. Quantum is one of the biggest improvements to Firefox in recent times, though. And if nothing else, the speed boost and UI tweaks could help Mozilla keep users that would otherwise have jumped ship.

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