Firefox 15: Memory Flaws Gone; Performance Improved

Dennis Faas's picture

The latest edition of Mozilla's popular web browser, Firefox 15, is getting solid early reviews. In addition to fixing a notorious memory problem, the new version offers better support for games and music, and eases the update process.

For many web users, Firefox is the world's best browser. It built that reputation by offering usability features not seen in other browsers. It has also suffered fewer security problems than rival browsers like Internet Explorer, from Microsoft.

Over time, however, Firefox has lost a lot of market share to a newer entry in the market: Google's Chrome.

One of the main weaknesses cited by people who have abandoned Firefox was its memory leaks. Using the browser for an extended period of time would often lead to sluggish computer performance. In some cases, people complained, their computer would freeze up and require a reboot.

Firefox 15 Tackles Add-On Memory Leaks

Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, says the issue was caused by add-ons, which are extra tools made for the browser by third-party developers. Each of these add-ons claim a chunk of the computer's memory.

In many cases, however, when the add-on was closed or no longer used it would fail to relinquish its memory allocation. After several of these failures, a significant proportion of the computer's memory would effectively be unavailable, and therefore wasted.

Firefox 15 is designed to eliminate this problem. It does a much better job of checking add-on code, looking for situations where the browser is still trying to access add-ons that are no longer active, and preventing it from doing so. (Source:

Browser Updates Run Smoother

The new Firefox browser also aims to remove another usability hassle by changing the way updates work. Users will no longer need to check through updates, confirm they want to install them, then wait for the process to complete.

Instead, all updates take place in the background, so users can continue surfing the web without waiting. It's a system already used by Google's Chrome, and will no doubt be welcomed by Firefox users.

Other additions to the browser include support for both 3D graphics and full-screen displays. This should enhance the visual appeal of web-based video games.

There's also support for Opus, an audio format offering better sound quality. (Source:

Unfortunately for Mozilla, the improvements won't necessarily help it regain users lost to other browsers. Most Internet users tend to be conservative about their choice of browser, switching only when they become very unhappy with their current choice.

Observers suggest that many of the people who ditched Firefox in the past won't be willing to give this newest version another try.

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