back to article Firefox hits version 50

The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox web browser has hit version 50.0 on Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android. Firefox debuted in November 2004 and has sometimes pushed its market share above 30 per cent. These days it's the world's second-most popular browser, with its 13.29 per cent market share according to StatCounter. Version …

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Android

Does anyone here use Firefox as a daily driver on Android? How does it compare to Chrome? I used it a few years ago when I first got a smartphone, but it was clunky and badly integrated at the time.Chrome "just works" now.

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Re: Android

I use it on Android all the time. It works great especially if you throw in an extension like uBlock to slash 3rd party scripts out of sites. Most Firefox extensions work in the mobile version.

Aside from having mature extension support it also means you get more privacy. Using a not-Google browser means it's harder for Google to see what you're up to.

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Re: Android

It started a bit bad, it got better, now it seems to be slowing down a bit for whatever reason.

Still, add-ons are good and it's not Chrome autologging you into Google's websites and targeted by the Android malware developers.

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gv

Re: Android

Use it daily and, apart from a very rare odd lockup, it works fine.

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Re: Android

Does it support text reflow yet? That was the deal breaker for me.

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Re: Android

Because Chrome uses undocumented Android API's

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Re: Android

Yes, all the time, because it is the only Android browser that supports Ad Block addons.

However, it does have a few bugs on Android. The main one for me is that quite often links stop working. Have to quit out of Firefox and re-start. (Android 7 on a Nexus 9).

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Re: Android

I use it on my phone and it's fairly stable, though slightly slower than Chrome. I like the features better than Chrome on any platform. On my Android tablet, unfortunately it's a bit flaky and likes to crash when I expand or move around the page.

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Re: Android

I use FF on Android - in fact it was a major factor in me returning to Android from BBos.

The main driver was both the FF sync between my Mac and the Android device, which I find useful, and the use of Ghostery. It does feel slower, than chrome, but I have more trust in FF so I am staying.

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Re: Android

> unfortunately it's a bit flaky and likes to crash when I expand or move around the page.

That's been my main experience with it, it's just regular enough to be annoying but not so regular that it's forced me back to Chrome.

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Re: Android

"Chrome uses undocumented Android API's"

Just like MS and Windows. The security risk was a good reason never to use MS applications when running Windows, and sounds like a good reason to use another browser (e.g., FF or Opera/Chromium) in Android.

Tabs, windows, history, bookmarks, export/import, cache, sessions, refresh, previous page, first page, last page, cloud bookmarks ... they're all facets of the same thing. I can't help but hope that one day we'll have a user-friendly interface that encompasses all of these concepts in a customizable but by default more straightforward way. Here's a tiny f'rinstance. Some sites don't have favicons, or historically they didn't have favicons. There was a FF extension that would help with favicons, but only in the Bookmarks list. The same favicons would not appear in the tab bar because of the way FF was organized. This went on for years. Not sure if it is still the case, but while it was a ffactor, it was eFFing annoying.

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Re: Android

That's been my main experience with it, it's just regular enough to be annoying but not so regular that it's forced me back to Chrome.

I've found it pretty solid over the last year or so even on websites like BBC Sport which really hammer the network and the CPU. And blockers (I use Ghostery are a must).

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Re: Android

Yes on my daily because er... that extension which in chrome requires root to achieve the same level of protection from vile underhand websites.

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Re: Android

my Partner uses FF on an HTC M8 and is very happy with it. It supports AdBlock and stuff. To my shame, I use Adblock Browser and let *it* do all the heavy lifting. Also no complaints. Stuff that doesn't render properly doesn't get a 2nd visit, and its cookie and script controls are pretty comprehensive.

Although it keeps asking me if I'd like search suggestions turned on if I search from the address bar.

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Chrome

Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?

Is it due to phones/tablets, Android?

Do people not care about privacy?

I'm puzzled. Firefox seems to work OK on my Android 5.1 tablet. I can't see what advantage Chrome has for laptop or PC, or am I missing something?

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Re: Chrome

I use Chromium on Debian in preference to Firefox although I have Firefox installed for use with sites that insist on using old flash technology (BBC for a while).

Can't say I'm too fussed about one vs the other. I rather like being able to choose though.

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@Mage

"Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?"

I assume the same reason as why so many people used FF back in the days: if you find something which works you usually stick with it. I'm quite pleased with Opera myself (build on Chromium, so comparable to Chrome I guess) and one of the reasons (in comparison to Firefox) is that the interface hardly ever changes.

Now, please note that the last time I've used FF was back in 2008 - 2009 or something, so my experience is dated, but the main thing which drove me away were the heavy release cycles combined with a seemingly constantly changing interface.

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Re: Chrome

"Do people not care about privacy?"

If they did Facebook wouldn't even exist.

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Re: @Mage

I use FF as my main browser just through laziness and a dislike of Google.

I rarely see FF installed at customer sites, but Chrome is often the browser of choice.

If it wasn't for Google, I'd be using Chrome. Hard to give any proper reasons, it just feels more professional.

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Re: constantly changing interface.

I use "Classic Theme Restorer" on Firefox on Windows and Linux. The GUI on Android isn't much different than the other mobile browsers.

Do Chromium usage figures get aggregated to Chrome stats in the article? They are very different on privacy.

I see in a another post: Chromium 0.17%

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WTF?

"Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?"

A better question: how are these stats being compiled? I literally don't know anyone who uses Chrome, at work or at home. I'm not even sure of the last time I saw a computer running it. Could it be that the numbers are coming from collated page browser checks, and Chrome is rating highly simply because it talks to everyone who asks while other browsers obfuscate?

(Serious question, by the way, this isn't just a Chrome bashing session.)

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Len
Unhappy

Re: Chrome

Simple: marketing.

Most people don't care which browser they use. Remember when that blue E logo was synonymous with "the internet"? Most people see a browser as a tool to use services and products.

If someone doesn't care which browser they use they can easily be persuaded to switch to something else. And that is exactly what Google did. They ran a malware-like campaign where people were tricked into downloading Chrome and making it the default browser. They pushed Chrome on all their assets and channels, just searching for "the best cake recipe" got you a big Chrome ad on Google.com. They made references to Chrome so ubiquitous that Chrome became synonymous with "the internet".

And no, sadly most people don't care about privacy.

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Re: @Mage

I believe Google paid a lot of devs money to auto install Chrome alongside their shovelware.

Given that majority of users don't even know what Browser they are using, this paid off nicely for Google.

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LDS
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Re: Chrome

A lot of people were told to use it, or feel the need because it became "fashionable", and they don't want to look "unfashionable".

These are the same people who keep on complaining about the unwanted marketing calls they receive (often I hear one cursing them in the office too...) and wonder why I never receive one...

Then there's also those who got it by installing/updating other software. My sister once got it updating Avast, IIRC, and asked me why her browser has changed suddenly....

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Re: Chrome

I would guess it's probably because every time you use google search they push Chrome in your face. Personally, I use FF on both windows and Android (well ... I actually use the Dev version Aurora on both - often with 200+ tabs open on windows at work) and they both work great.

Even have the missus using FF on her phone - she regularly has 50+ tabs open while she is browsing Amazon and such like with only very rare problems.

As others have mentioned, it's also good to install uBlock or similar.

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Re: "Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?"

Because it is the default browser in Android.

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Re: @Mage

"and one of the reasons (in comparison to Firefox) is that the interface hardly ever changes."

YES YES YES!

This is a BIG THING with ME. I *HATE* 2D flats, fat-finger-friendliness [at the expense of screen real estate on my *DESKTOP* computer], and that *HIDEOUS* *HAMBURGER* *MENU*.

Using Firefox 27-ish on my GNOME 2 DESKTOP at the moment, on a FreeBSD machine with ~2-year old 'ports' (built from source), with plugins *like* noscript [the MAIN reason for using Firefox at all]. If it needs a patch I can re-build it from source.

If it works, *WHY* *CHANGE* ??? Moving targets are HIGHLY overrated.

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Alert

200 tabs!

..How can you even keep track of what tab is what? I thought I was bad having 5-10 each IE and Firefox windows open at work, some with multiple tabs.

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Optional

Statcounter gets stats from people who don't care if they are being followed around the web. Which basically means any Chrome user.

Reg - can you release sample month stats on browser usage? Being as your audience is rather niche it would be very interesting to see compared to the general stat reports.

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Re: 200 tabs!

There are a couple of things to help with this - a drop down that appears on the right when the number of tabs exceeds the page width such that the tab bar scrolls that lists the tabs, plus the tab group "manage my tabs" which can display the tabs in a variety of different formats according to preference. I too use classic screen restorer - could not stand the dreadful Chrome-lookalike that FF adopted a few years back.

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Re: Chrome

"Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?"

Because almost everything you download from the Internet these days seems to include Google Chrome which is usually ticked to install by default and most people don't pay attention and just 'click through' without looking.

I've had a few people come to me and ask "what's this Google Chrome and how did I get it on my computer?" I've even had a couple who didn't know they had it installed (despite the obvious Google Chrome icon on their taskbar).

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Re: 200 tabs!

@ Unicornpiss @RichUK

I do indeed use plugins to help ... currently have seven tab groups, one is misc the rest are specific to a set of ongoing work. Every now and again I go through and sanitise it and might manage to get it down to a hundred or so. You'd be surprised how quickly you get used to it.

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Re: Chrome

Even my ASUS motherboard driver disc has Google Chrome and Google Toolbar ticked to install by default when you install the drivers.

Unbelievable... good thing you can untick them or all heck would have broken loose in the Carl household.

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Re: Chrome

I have both Firefox and Chromium installed on Mint. Chromium because of sites where an annoying "outdated Flash plugin" message appears in Firefox.

Barclays online banking hilariously refuses to run on Chromium because it thinks it's an obsolete browser.

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Re: Chrome

Is it like preinstalled IE on Windows?

Are they counting Chrome that comes preinstalled on probably every Android phone and Chromebook, etc.?

I have tried Chrome. Never impressed with it over FF and inherently distrustful of Google.

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Re: Chrome

If you have Firefox set to ask permission before enabling the Flash plugin, sites will still try to use it-- somehow they are still being told it's there. You have to set it to "never enable" to get sites to quit asking and use HTML5 sometimes, or else use an extension that hides the Flash plugin from the site even when the plugin is set to ask first.

Otherwise, you can just spoof your user-agent in cases like yours with the bank, since the preferred feature detection would return results equal to having Chrome, I presume.

I've never used any PC browser other than Firefox, Mozilla, or Netscape (except for brief testing and Windows updating in Win XP), going all the way back to 1995.

Well, that's not entirely true; I did use Lynx before that on a VAX/VMS shell account which I accessed from a terminal program on my PC, but Lynx was running on the VAX, not locally.

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Re: Chrome

"Why the high usage of Google's Chrome?" - many businesses give users 2 bad options. IE and Chrome. Guess which I've picked (and followed with number of "under the hood" tweaks). While Chrome has its privacy issues if far better than IE (especially on W10 when MS browsers relay users' activity to Sadya's team). FF caters more to its users' privacy than corporate-wide deployment (e.g. getting man in the middle proxy done proved too much in my place) and thus gets shafted. On the 2nd thought I'd rather have Mozilla keep it this way as it remains my preferred browser across all my personal systems (excluding the "walled garden" when Safari or lipstick on Safari is the only option).

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Re: Chrome

"Is it due to phones/tablets, Android?

Do people not care about privacy?"

I think you just answered your own question there.

I tried to get MS Office from Microsoft yesterday. 'Oh dear. You have 3rd party cookies disallowed. You'll need to enable these to continue.'

No explanation, just rip a hole in the side of your browser or we won't let you give us your money. The Chat rep suggested I could use Edge or IE, as that would work for me. I got it from a retailer instead.

As an aside, what's happened to Microsoft with their error messages recently? I had an error message last night which said (I shit you not):

"Oops! Something went wrong. We'll try to fix it for you. We'll let you know when we're done."

How about YOU tell ME what went wrong and I'll bloody well fix it myself?

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Any idea which browsers are in the "other" line that's quietly gaining ground? Edge, Vivaldi?

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You can go to the website and download the data as desired http://gs.statcounter.com/

For the first two weeks of November the top 20 browsers for Desktop, Tablet and Console were:

Chrome 59.19

Firefox 13.41

Safari 10.34

IE 8.83

Edge 2.89

Opera 1.84

Android 1.29

Yandex Browser 0.46

Coc Coc 0.35

UC Browser 0.28

Chromium 0.17

Maxthon 0.15

Sony PS4 0.13

Sogou Explorer 0.13

360 Safe Browser 0.1

QQ Browser 0.09

Mozilla 0.04

Phantom 0.04

Puffin 0.04

Pale Moon 0.03

Vivaldi was at 0.02% - so definitely more Edge and Opera rather than a Vivaldi ....

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Statcounter

How many people here block statcounter from their browser?

This along with a number of Google sites are on my hit list to block from slurping my browser use.

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360 Safe Browser 0.1

This is (I suspect), the latest Chinese knock-off of IE - stuffed with Chinese government spyware; their last version somehow ended up on SWMBOS PC (she being Chinese), and it was the devils own job to get rid of it, and the malware it allowed onto her system.

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Re: Statcounter

I think Steve Davies might be on to something there. It is quite likely a lot of the other browsers are under represented because the methods used to agregate the data is blocked in those browsers, but not in the vast majority of IE and Chrome users.

Personally I find it interesting that the decline of Firefox began right at the point they started converting from a sleek, fast, customizable browser to a "look at us looking like chrome and working like chrome and being slow as shit" piece of software that it is today. Maybe they could have something to do with one another?

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Re: Statcounter

@Imanidiot - spot on, instead of keeping something that was unique and worked both functionally and in terms of good UI design (which seems to be a dead science these days) they just went with being like everyone else.

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Re: Statcounter

I've heard that in some countries up to 10 % are using ad-blockers. Don't think it really matters that much. Akamai's data, which El Reg disappointingly fails to use, has Chrome (all versions) at around 50%:

https://www.akamai.com/us/en/solutions/intelligent-platform/visualizing-akamai/internet-observatory/internet-observatory-explore-data.jsp

Google must be particularly pleased in the uptake of Chrome Mobile because that's a fairly recent addition.

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Re: Statcounter

"I've heard that in some countries up to 10 % are using ad-blockers."

People whose computers I troubleshoot cannot believe how fast their browsing is after I install FF with an adblocker on their kit. I also instruct them in the use of noscript, needless to add.

Their vision has gone off the rails, though. Who needs all that sh*t?

Give us a fast, simple browser with no "chrome-crap ®".

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Re: Statcounter

That Akamai site is rubbish. Can we not have a breakdown on the 'Other'? Is Firefox Mobile wrapped up in 'other'? Baffled by the numbers. They don't tally at all with the usage stats on a couple of web projects I have worked on lately. Breakdown on version of each is also useful but not given.

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FAIL

Innovation?

I'm sure they've heard of it, but nothing much going on here.

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Mushroom

Re: Innovation?

"I'm sure they've heard of it, but nothing much going on here."

I agree in principle. CHANGE != INNOVATION especially when it's "change for the sake of change" or "change because millenials think it's 'cool'" or "change because Micro-shaft is doing it *THAT* way" or "change because we *FEEL* everyone needs {whatever}"

Let's not forget how long XP stayed THE SAME, and how it remained POPULAR the entire time.

Let's not forget the ~30 years of GUI being done "that way" and GROWING in scope and market from the mid/late 80's through now.

Let's not forget the *FAIL* of Windows "Ape", Win-10-nic, and the entire premise of "make your desktop look {read: be crippled} like a 'smart' phone".

And, unfortunately, FF's direction has been TOO MUCH like the above statement. FORTUNATELY you can turn the REGULAR MENU back on again, though it's not always easy to figure out the first time you go W.T.F. when you see NO MENU and a FORNICATING HAMBURGER ICON.

So this "every few weeks" release cycle is not only HIGHLY OVERRATED, it's HIGHLY UNNECESSARY.

I have a better idea: Just *FIX* *THE* *DAMN* *BUGS* (after putting the >2 year old user interface BACK, thank you, WITHOUT A DAMNED HAMBURGER ICON for non-touchy devices), and spend your ENTIRE development time cycling EVERY bit of code through ANAL RETENTIVE REVIEW, for efficiency, security, and size.

Oh, but that's not *FUN*, right? Too bad. REAL programmers know how to Q.A. their own schtuff. And they don't need rapidly increasing major version numbers, either.

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Re: Innovation?

Google the Firefox Extended Support Release. Much more sensible release schedules causing much less rage when things are "improved" in every version.

Firefox ESR has roughly a yearly update cycle, skipping about 7 releases of the consumer version of Firefox. If Mozilla didn't offer it, I'd have been off to anything else a long time ago.

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