I just started up Firefox and, once again, there was another whole-number version update waiting to interrupt my use and enjoyment of the world-wide web.
Didn't Firefox 12 come out about a month ago?
Once I applied the update and got running again, nothing was changed. Not a thing. Okay, well, a new tab homepage. But seriously? Showing me a few sites that I visit frequently? I know how to use browser bookmarks and history, thank you. But in addition to useless new “features,” Firefox 13 also screws stuff up.
The damn thing won't load new pages to about:blank now, even though I've tried to configure it to do so. The Firefox team also fucked with page scrolling, so that now instead of moving in discrete increments, they have some half-assed “smooth” scrolling that tears across screen refreshes on OS X.
These are just a few in a laundry list of many complaints about Firefox that I have compiled since Firefox developers think that wasting my time is some kind of design goal. Here's what doesn't work as of Firefox 13.
And speaking of wasting time, I thought this was rich. Check out the answers at the Firefox Plugin Check & Updates page's frequently asked questions section where it answers the question, “Why should I update my plugins?”
- Old plugins can interrupt browsing and waste your time.
- Old plugins increase your risk for attack by malware, viruses, and other security threats.
- Updated plugins have improvements that make the web better and safer for you.
Oh god, where to start? On top of wasting time with their inane, trivial updates, the Firefox plug-in architecture does anything but make the web “better and safer” That's because it's “unstable and outdated.” Firefox doesn't use multi-threading to delegate functionality into discrete, more-secure tasks that can't affect the rest of the browser negatively.
Safari's model, which is representative of most other modern web browsers, effectively manages disparate threads and shuffles content back and forth in a way that makes it look like it's all just Safari. But stops e-worms and internet viruses, in addition to shitty plug-ins, from taking the browser down.
So why doesn't Firefox do something like this? Because Firefox is written to run on as many platforms as possible, Firefox developers can't optimize for any single platform. Doing so would drag Firefox performance even further down the shitter. Firefox is effectively stuck years behind the present.
For one, it doesn't take advantage of new technologies available in mainstream operating systems. Apple has had a pervasive multi-threading API since 2009, and changes in the Windows 7 kernel, also released in 2009, gave a huge performance boost to multi-threaded apps. Does Firefox take advantage of either of these technologies? Nope.
Just check out the Firefox 13 system requirements. It's still using a programming model for Mac OS X Leopard, from 2007, even as Apple is just weeks away from releasing OS X Mountain Lion in 2012. Likewise, there is only experimental support for features unique to Windows Vista or Windows 7 in Firefox because Firefox 13 is optimized for Windows XP Service Pack 2.
When one Firefox developer suggested that the project be split between platform-agnostic and platform-specific pieces that could be better optimized and tied together later in the development process, he lost commit access. Someone also threw a brick through one of his windows, which he reported on support-firefox, though the incident was never officially connected with the Mozilla Foundation.
In addition to maintaining a dangerously out-of-date plug-in architecture, Firefox developers have complicated the very idea of what a web browser is. Instead of supporting just plug-ins, Firefox supports add-ons, extensions, and skins.
What's the difference? Aside from skins, which answer the fundamentally unimportant question of “How else am I supposed to give my web browser a Star Trek theme?” there isn't a clear-cut distinction between these haphazard pieces of Firefox functionality.
This mire of Firefox interface confusion, coupled with its archaic plug-in architecture and lack of modern operating system support, make each and every full-version upgrade a waste of time and security risk. Whatever the design goals that Firefox developers strive for, they don't seem to have anything to do with performance or modern computing technologies.
If you want a browser that works right, use the one that your operating system provider makes: Mac users, stick with Safari; Windows users, invest in Internet Explorer; KDE users, keep using Konqueror, etc.
That leaves Firefox out, but that's okay: it's a sub-par browser with an out-of-control development team reaming end-users out of a rich web experience. Firefox runs on everything, but runs on well on nothing. Firefox sucks.