Firefox 2, Still (20th December 2008)

My main machine uses Firefox 2. After upgrading to and then, the Mozilla website says this is the last planned updates to Firefox 2. Yet I have no intention of using Firefox 3.x.

With the Winestripe theme, Fx2 is actually a much better fit for Windows XP than Fx3. Despite the Fx3 hype making a big song and dance about “OS integration”.

Parental Testing

I heard and read many good things about Firefox 3, especially the user experience stuff. So I put it on my parents’ PC and let them try migrating from Internet Explorer to Firefox with minimal help from me.

Sadly, it didn’t go well. Importing all IE settings wasn’t even something they considered needing to go into the menus for. They think eBay just “knows who I am” and have no concept of cookies, session storage, password management and so on. So I had to do this part for them.

But the sites they use didn’t know them. Or the sites knew them on the entry page but not when they went to do something in a different area. So I try the Log In link but, of course, my parents don’t know their passwords. So we use the websites to Reset Password, wait for the e-mail, they try using that. And it works.

Until a few days later.

Now, I’m sure some portion of blame goes to the fact that most websites are coded so terribly that it’s genuinely surprising they work at all. However, they work fine in IE. So, after a week of trying, I switched that PC back to using IE7 as the default browser. I uninstalled Firefox from it.

That was an unhappy day. At least it didn’t crash, though.

Common Experience

Casual users and expert users alike are reporting disappointment with Firefox 3. Frequent crashes are just about the worst thing a new release can be typified by. Always crashing on normal exiting? That’s a dire step backwards from the relative stability Firefox 2 enjoys.

From fans of GTA to fans of web standards, a trickle of users are returning to Firefox 2.

Firefox 3 is working fine for some people, sure. Perhaps some portion of it is due to faulty add-ons.

But I have 16 extensions installed in Firefox 2, one of which is over 2MB to download. The worst that happens is scrolling becomes very sluggish on sites with absurdly large and intricate Flash adverts running at silly framerates. Which is probably due to Flash being stupid, rather than the browser.

The last crash for me in Firefox 2 was months ago, iirc.

Good Times

While writing this message, I realised why this is so sad. It’s because the step from 0.x to 1.0 was good. The step from 1.0 to 1.5 was noticeably faster and more stable. The step from 1.5 to 2.0 was that much more again. So there were plenty of people at Mozilla who knew what to do. I can only assume they aren’t the ones calling the shots any more?