Firefox 57 Hits Beta, is Renamed to Firefox Quantum

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 21 Comments

The next major release of Firefox is such an improvement that Mozilla decided to change the name. So instead of going by the unimpressive moniker Firefox 57, this release will instead be called Firefox Quantum. And it is available in both Beta and Developer Edition versions today.

“Our engineering team has been relentless in their focus on making Firefox incredibly fast,” Mozilla’s Nick Nguyen explains. “Firefox Quantum is such a big leap forward that you’ll feel it instantly, just browsing your favorite websites.”

Firefox Quantum has one mission and one mission only: To take down the market leader, Google Chrome. And the best way to get there, Mozilla says, is to offer better performance and memory usage than Chrome.

I’m surprised to say I could notice the difference in an afternoon of testing the Beta version of Firefox Quantum: The browser really does feel quite snappy. Noticeably snappy.

Mozilla says that Firefox Quantum is “often perceivably faster” than Google Chrome, and it offers up a video (above) that demonstrates this prowess. The speed gains come from a variety of changes, including support for multiple CPU cores on both desktop and mobile, a new “super fast” CSS engine, giving priority to the currently-displayed tab, and a year’s worth of performance tuning.

Firefox Quantum also provides a sleek new user experience that Mozilla calls Photon.

“With the new design, Firefox leaps ahead with a new interface that reflects today’s reality of High DPI displays and users who are more task focused than they’ve ever been,” Nguyen writes. “Users will be impressed by the modern new design that puts their needs first. Photon doesn’t just look good, it’s also smarter. If you’re using Photon on a Windows PC with a touch display, the menus change size based on whether you click with a mouse or touch with a finger.”

The design is minimalist and, I think, attractive, with hard edges and square tabs. It looks more modern than Google Chrome, with its weird trapezoidal tabs, and is more akin, design-wise, to Microsoft Edge.

I like the look and speed of this browser, and of course the mobile sync stuff is huge. But like Microsoft Edge, it still lacks desktop integration for web apps, which makes it less than ideal (until Progressive Web Apps can be acquired through the Store in Windows 10, when all bets are off). But you may want to give it a shot: If you’ve not looked at Firefox in a while, this release may surprise you.

Firefox Quantum will ship publicly to all Firefox users to November 14. But you can test it now in both Beta and Developer Preview versions on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.


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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Firefox 57 Hits Beta, is Renamed to Firefox Quantum”

  1. Angusmatheson

    I hate when they give products meaningless cool sounding names. What does “Quantum” mean in a browser? And Apple with the stupid A11 Bionic. What does that mean? If your product is awesome, it will speak for itself. It is lame, no cool, space-age name save it.

  2. Kadren

    Mozilla is probably my last beloved browser creator. Quantum looks miles above anything that Google has done recently. Not to mention the laughable lack of innovation and improvement in High Sierra and Safari. It's alsmost sad seeing how the big companies loust touch with tech and times. Google and Apple are way to bloated and fat to do anything good. I hope Mozilla stays sharp, and Quantum blows my mind.

  3. Tony Barrett

    I hope it really improves Firefox's memory usage, because it's pretty poor at the moment. I regularly have >15 tabs open, and Firefox is consuming 4-5GB. Chrome's per-tab process sandboxing is better, and it makes it easier to locate resource hogging sites, but it's still not perfect.

    I honestly think browser memory usage has got progressively worse since sites starting loading up with ads. It slows down page loading, and uses huge amounts of resource.

  4. AlexKven

    Yay! Now Firefox is faster than Chrome sometimes but not other times. How impressive!

  5. zorb56

    I have always used Firefox, but I fear that it is headed down the road of a closed and uninteresting system. I've tried to switch to Edge in recent weeks exclusively for the additional Microsoft Rewards you get for browsing with it, but I always seem to need Firefox for something.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to zorb56:

      Firefox ESR will give you until next June to find something else. Looks like that may have to be Pale Moon unless Firefox 57 drives off so many users Mozilla is forced to relent. I wouldn't count on that.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    I tried it, and while it is faster, I think Chrome and Edge still feels faster than Firefox. But overall it's still a great improvement for Firefox.

  7. slerched

    I use every browser. Except IE.

    I've been using beta and dev builds of FF for years now.

    Losing LastPass has been a PITA but they assured me a compatible version would be available when FF moves to production.

    AdBlock still works which means once LP is compatible again, I'll be good.

    I use Opera to get around YouTube region restrictions. The VPN option they have is fast and free.

  8. bassoprofundo

    This is at the cost of jettisoning all of the "legacy" extensions...

    Any browser is going to run faster with no addons. :P

  9. NazmusLabs

    We NEED Firefox and Edge to succeed, for the sake of web standards. These are the only two major browsers that uses an engine that isn't remotely related to Blink and Webkit.

    Otherwise, we risk another IE6.

    • Win74ever

      In reply to NazmusLabs:

      Yep. But they didn't update IE6 for years and years. Chrome is always updated to new web standards.

    • skane2600

      In reply to NazmusLabs:

      The concern for web standards seems often to be idealistically motivated. From a business perspective, the smart thing to do back when IE was dominant was to make sure the site worked with that browser and then if time permitted, try to get them to work on the other browsers. But many developers at the time weren't really thinking about it from a business perspective.

  10. hrlngrv

    It's a gamble. Photon may be sleek, but it could also drive away a lot of long-time users who have so far been able to customize the Firefox UI far more comprehensively than any other browser allows. Photon will cut that off. In my case, I'll probably move to Opera.

    Also, Mozilla's current Australis rounded tabs are far weirder than Chrome's tabs, but Mozilla developers have never understood the aphorism about pots calling kettles black.

    As for desktop integration, it's not built into Firefox, but it can be hacked by adapting the Linux Ice utility to Windows.

  11. Martin Pelletier

    Ah, another incentive to Google to do better hehe.