Firefox 4 Review Round-Up: The Critics Weigh In

Firefox 4 is finally here, and its reviews are rolling in. Mozilla's new browser is its slickest yet, and adds new features like Tab Groups and Do Not Track. But with the recent launches of Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome 10, do critics think the latest version of Firefox can handle the competition? Let's check out highlights of the reviews.

Tabs

Firefox 4 is loaded with features to help you manage tabs, the most impressive of which, according to Ars Technica's Ryan Paul, is "Tab Groups." This feature lets you group frequently used pages together by category, and then call them up at will. While most critics praised the feature, Paul found it impractical for everyday use. He writes:

"Although tab groups radically simplify tab management and significantly increase the scalability of tab interaction, the feature still has some fundamental failings that sabotage its usefulness. The single biggest weakness of tab groups is that you can't move them between windows ... The real deal-breaker for me, however, is the difficulty of finding misbehaving tabs ... In Chrome, I could have trivially solved the problem by cracking open the browser's built-in process manager and sorting by CPU usage."

Another new tab management feature is "Switch to Tab." When typing in a URL, this feature lets you jump to the website you're trying to reach if it's already open in another tab. Critics liked the idea but said it needs improvement. "Any search results that match open tabs get mixed in with your history list, previous searches and so on," Preston Gralla writes for Computerworld. "So it's difficult to see at a glance if your matches are in open tabs."

Add-Ons

Firefox 4 moves the add-on manager from a pop-up window to a browser tab. "This is much more easy on the eyes and makes finding and installing or removing add-ons and browser themes more fluid," Christina Warren writes for Mashable.

Warren says add-ons have been a blessing and a curse for Firefox, because while they've been largely responsible for the browser's popularity, they can also hurt performance and ding Firefox's reputation. Mozilla's trying to fix this by letting add-ons use lighter, more stable technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. "Still, at this stage, most major Firefox add-ons still use the traditional add-on API and require a browser restart when updated, installed or uninstalled," Warren writes.

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