Firefox 57: Come for the Speed, Stay for the Text Rendering

Posted on November 14, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 64 Comments

Mozilla has released Firefox 57, the latest version of its open web browser. And for the first time in many years, this looks like a viable alternative to Chrome on Windows.

“Now, more than ever, people need tech options that are not only built to work well for the individual user but which also improve the overall tech landscape,” Mozilla’s Jascha Kaykas-Wolff writes. “That’s exactly what the new Firefox does. Twice as fast, and still committed to putting people over profit. We are fighting for a healthy internet and we want the Internet to be accessible and open to all. We are a community of committed individuals standing up for what we believe is right.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for Firefox, and I was a backer of the original version (my name is on the 2004 New York Times advertisement for it), after using Phoenix and its other predecessors before that. But with the fall of Microsoft’s web browser efforts, and the rise of Chrome, I’ve long since moved to the Google browser.

But Firefox 57—also called Firefox Quantum—makes a compelling case for rethinking this stance.

It starts with better performance and memory usage, two things that Chrome has struggled with for years on Windows. There’s also a slick new user experience, called Photon, that offers what I’d call a Microsoft Edge-like look and feel on Windows 10. Which is, of course, very nice.

But the reason I’m recommending that you at least look at Firefox 57 is the text rendering. If you think about the many times I’ve discussed Microsoft Edge, the one thing I’ve always really liked is the way it renders text and graphics. And for all of what’s right about Chrome, it just isn’t the same.

But looking at Firefox 57, I can see the same kind of text rendering quality that I see in Edge. And that is quite interesting to me. Interesting enough that I’ll be testing the browser this week to see if switching makes any sense.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and give it a shot too. Say what you will about Firefox, or Mozilla, but their heart is in the right place. And it looks like they’ve finally got a web browser with the performance, efficiency, looks, and text rendering acumen to back up the feels, too.

You can download Firefox 57 from the Firefox website.

 

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