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Enterprise Software veteran, with over twenty years' experience on every side of of business, from user and buyer to VP, CEO and Board Member roles; from Procter & Gamble to Oracle, SAP and OQO. Founder of the OracAlumni Network.
Aactively tracks the trends and strategies of the enterprise software world, shares his news digest and analysis at Next Gen Enterprise.

40 responses to “Firefox MASSIVE FAIL – frequent, incompatible upgrades and instability”

  1. Yaroslav Buzko

    Agree with most everything, however there are 2 things that make me stay with Firefox:

    1) It is substantially less RAM-hungry in “LOTS of tabs” scenario (50+);
    2) It has tree-style vertical tab bar capability (via addon).

    So for my use case, Chrome unfortunately just doesn’t cut it…

    1. Dennis Moore

      I was surprised to see this when I tested yesterday. Firefox was using about a quarter of the memory used by Chrome! Right up to the point where it crashed … 🙁 I miss the good old days of Firefox, before their nonsensical upgrade strategy combining rapid updates with poor upwards compatibility.

  2. Zoli Erdos

    Dennis,

    Absolutely agree, had very similar experience ages ago, around Firefox 3.0, I aired my frustration here and here. Back then Chrome did not support Extensions, so I waited till they did, and switched – haven’t looked back yet.

    Incidentally, 42% of our readers at this site use Chrome, while 15% use Firefox.

  3. Neal

    I think you are too old to purposely to the word “fail.”

  4. Chromesucks

    More like you’re retarded and a massive FAIL.

    Firefox blows away overrated Chrome botnet garbage.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/chrome-27-firefox-21-opera-next,3534-12.html

    “With no apparent weaknesses and generally strong finishes all-around, combined with near-native start times, greatly-improved hardware acceleration scores, and almost-perfect reliability, the latest version of Firefox soundly wins this installment of the Web Browser Grand Prix.”

    Just write at the start of your articles, “I’m a Chrome fanboy” so we can ignore your articles.

    1. Zoli Erdos

      @Chromesucks, ad hominem attacks are not tolerated here. The only reason your comment did not get deleted is that Dennis actually took the time to respond.

      1. Dennis Moore

        Zoli – Thanks, though I guess I can handle it 😉 I *really* want Firefox to go back to a sane update cadence. Can you imagine a corporate IT shop trying to certify every version of Firefox? 🙁

  5. Bob

    With the latest upgrade, Firefox crashed frequently. I had access to its usage from anywhere from a few seconds to no more than a couple of minutes. I tried reverting to the previous version without success. I finally deleted Firefox completely.

    1. Dennis Moore

      It’s sad but true that Firefox does not appear to be getting more stable – in fact, as you suggest, my experience is that Firefox is getting far less stable with its accelerated release schedule.

  6. paris

    I’m surprised to find that your firefox becomes unresponsive at times. For me, it doesn’t do that often (v23).

    I too hate the constant upgrades.
    I have added & deleted so many different addons for my firefox that it’s become really bulky.
    I hear that Chrome secretely sends stuff to Google and even my unborn child already has a thick folder in their database. Hey, I don’t want them to know my SSN or credit card # unless they hire me!

  7. Dennis Moore

    @paris –

    I am sure that my Firefox instabilities are the result of the many add-ons I have installed, but that is also the crux of my argument – the add-ons ecosystem is broken.

    You may be right about Google, but that is probably already true from my use of Gmail, Google Calendar, Android, Google Maps/Navigation, and Google Search …

    Thanks for the comment!

  8. Jo Reven

    Has anybody here heard of Firefox’s ESR release? It only gets upgraded once a year while getting the same kind of updates that Firefox 2 and 3.x got:

    http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/

    Also, Firefox 24 is getting lazy bytecode generation, which cuts down on compiling scripts that end up not running, which is IMO a substantial improvement because of sites including stuff like jQuery, and that’s also going to be the base of the next ESR version.

  9. xhtml

    Dennis, if you don’t like the frequecy and/or quality of upgrades, why bother upgrading at all? Stick with a version you’re happy with – no one’s forcing you to stay current (unlike Chrome).
    And when you decide to try a later version, test it first before committing. In the enterprise, changing software versions without adequate testing is perilous at best.

  10. Leaving FF

    I found this page because FF 23 doesn’t display Google maps and was looking for a solution.
    Also when i open another page, it suddenly switches back to the previous one.
    And all the other problems mentioned.
    Couldn’t find any solutions.
    I don’t like chrome but I am forced to leave FF after a decade or so.

    Hopefully FF monitors this page.

  11. Storm Cunningham

    I agree. I’m also switching to Chrome, even though I’ve been a Mozilla user since it was called Netscape. The straw that broke this camel’s back is that Firefox 23, 24, and the beta of 25 are all incompatible with Twitter. Clicking on another Twitter user is supposed to bring up a profile summary, but this no longer works in Firefox. Goodbye, Mozilla: it was nice while it lasted.

  12. SGnPinoy

    I too have a long term user of Firefox and had abandoned IE for a long time, except for some sites (like company Webmail) which runs properly only in IE. But in the last 2 months, Firefox had become so painfully slow and usable in the office, while IE got better with later versions. I had initially thought our MIS had done some blocking and they finally created for me me a special proxy server that has nor firewall blocking (and added only a few users on this server) but the same Firefox problems exist, while IE actually become faster (I guess to to he minimal users on the Proxy). Interestingly, I do not have the same problem at home and Firefox ran fine as he always had.

    Also, I only had a few add-ons which I have tried disabling in the office but to no avail. There must be something that caused Firefox to have “clashes” with my office network system and our MIS had not made any changes.So what has changed in Firefox (starting form version 21)? If things don;t get better soon, I will have to start using Chrome (seldom used it and had not even installed on my new Dell 4700 Notebook) or maybe I should just use my instead of avoiding it when I can use Firefox.

  13. cranialnerve

    I had more or less the same experiences, with some added disgust at the way they hid the simple functions like undo (I frequently have to rely on the one-hand-mouse-click method)… I rarely use more than 6-8 tabs at a time but he program hangs and I sometimes have to kill the process.
    Restarted, it frequently doesn’t show though already running, there are strange miniaturization effects lately (the Guardian.co.uk start page shows up as one long picture, impossible to read – that may be their fault, but it doesn’t happen in either IE or Chrome),
    java scripts freeze… it’s not good at all.
    I am rather successful on Google+ though I am really a Google hater and I only use Chrome for comparison reasons – just to make that clear. I had gotten used to Firefox over the years so I would really like to stick with it, but I man using IE a lot lately. IE isn’t exactly fast either, but it is much less buggy by now. I think Mozilla should do a complete redesign as the monthly hole-filling obviously isn’t doing the job. Interestingly, I can’t see any Disqus forums since two days – what the hell ?
    So, another brick in the wall and another point for IE… though Adblock may be the culprit,
    there was no access to G+ about a month ago – “only” for users with Adblock installed.
    The problem went away but was exchanged for different ones.
    Hail Microsoft – here I come.

  14. Unhappy Customer

    Also unhappy with these constant updates that really don’t update anything noticeable. I used to be able to keep upwards of 20 windows open, each with multiple tabs. (I’m a heavy surfer!) Now it crashes whenever I top 10 windows or so. There are problems opening PDFs in the browser as well as with leaving comments at certain sites where that wasn’t previously an issue.

    I’m very disappointed, but I don’t want to go back to IE, which is too bloated for my liking, or Chrome, which I understand communicates way more personal data to Google than I feel comfortable with. I’m ready for something new.

  15. A. perna

    I like Firefox very much … now for the, ‘however,” … “Firefox update,” translates to me as, “now which of my add-ons will be incompatible.” Update announcements are also almost always accompanied by a rolling of the eyes and glance at the clock so I know which hour of the day I will have to waste if I choose to update at that moment.

  16. Fedora Linux User

    I have been using Firefox on a Toshiba Notebook running Fedora Linux for several years and since Firefix ticked over to the “20’s” it has become noticeably slower and slower.

    Under my configuration I think part of the problem is any sites that use Flash (which seems to be most).

    I’ve monitored the system and that damn plug-in container hogs the system.
    I kill the container process and in the time the container process takes to start itself up again, Firefox runs fast for those few seconds.

    Setting the preference dom.ipc.plugins.enabled to either false or true makes no difference.

    See this post on the Mozilla Support Forum – https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/949629

  17. Elmer

    Dennis thanks for you information. I too have been a Firefox users for years, and when memory was an issue on my older Single Core 1GB RAM machine I was not impressed with Chrome’s loading all the add-on’s into memory, but now that I have 8 cores and 32GB of RAM I favor the Chrome Product. I initially thought the issue was my configuration with Linux, but it ran okay on a single core with 1 GB RAM as it did in Windows XP with 1 GB RAM, so i was concerned about maybe the multitasking of the 8 cores in this version of Linux, but since it seems a lot of people are having issues I can see I need to waste no more time with Firefox. I would never be as presumptuous as the person/troll above to think just one perspective is the right one, but it would appear many are having issues, and since I do use a lot of add-on’s I appreciate your sharing your perspective. I was just concerned something was wrong with my new hardware, but since it only seems to happen on Firefox I feel much better seeing everyone’s support.

    Elmer

  18. stormearthnfire

    I agree with the author 110%.
    I recently had a “discussion” with fine folks over at r/firefox subreddit wherein I tried to explain to them these exact same things – the real power of Firefox are the addons. And what’s the first thing that the rapid release philosophy hurt? Addons. Damn it, Mozilla devs!

  19. stormearthnfire

    Also, here is a techcrunch article where I shared my thoughts about the recent development of Firefox (it’s a long read), my comment is the Sep 11. 2013 one, I posted as greendestiny there.

  20. Rich

    I have been using FireFox for the duration. I have always had Updates turned OFF. In the early versions, I could see what the updates were and select to update or not ( Help-About page ) Now, that button is an “Update Now” action ..

    An older version ( around 13 ) added the option for not loading tabs until selected – nice. I keep several tabs, but have found in recent version ( 24 ) that if I “activate” more than a few tabs, the memory usage rockets and sluggishness ensues…

    I use no add-ons, so I cannot speak to that. I keep the shockWave flash plugin disabled – seems to slow sites and increase CPU when used – until I hit a site where I need it.

    You can control when/which updates by using the “let me choose” or “never” update options. I check out an update every 3 months or so — and have an install for an older version available as needed …

    For me, it comes down to the old .. If it has no new benefits ( ie, works the same as the one I have ), why update? Security holes, sure, but not as frequently as they have it ….

    1. Allwynd

      If you are referring to using Firefox 3.6, you can use it, for now… but after a few years when web standards change and HTML5 kicks in, Firefox won’t be able to handle websites, probably important ones, by big companies like Google, Microsoft… websites like Bing, Google search, YouTube… you won’t be able to view them properly.

  21. Allwynd

    I’ve been using Firefox since 2007 or 2008, I can’t remember. But I’ve always loved it.

    When Chrome came out, it was so fast and responsive, that I didn’t care that there were no extensions for it, I still used it.

    But later Chrome became slow and bloated. On a brand new installation of Windows, I install Chrome and after a few hours of usage, when I open new URLs, the tabs stay blank for 5-6 seconds before the pages start loading.

    This was really frustrating and I started jumping between browsers. Noting satisfied me like Firefox and Chrome did. Then later, when Firefox 4 came out, I started using it, and I used it till soon, because no matter how I optimized it, it would still be slow at loading pages, irresponsive and freezing.

    Right now I’m still jumping back and forth between browsers and I’m really frustrated, because I’ve found a music application (foobar2000), a torrent application (qBittorrent) and many other applications for my needs that are just perfect, but when it comes to choosing a browser they all have turn offs for me.

  22. Geoff

    I also switched to Chrome this year on my computer at work. Mostly because Firefox crashes all the time (up to 10 times a day). It’s especially bad ’cause I have a slow computer. I often have a lot of stuff open in different tabs, sometimes with formulas half filled (I manage the content on our websites.) One page crashing in firefox crashes all tabs, it is so infuriating. So I switched to Chrome; chrome keeps each tab in a separate process so one tab crashing is less dramatic. Also I was experiencing weird CPU guzzling of firefox when working with drupal sites, and since most of our sites are drupal-based, I couldn’t work like this.

    This is all too bad, because I generally prefer firefox’s interface. Chrome’s handling of bookmarks is abysmal at best, but I don’t have much of a choice, compared to firefox’s instability and abysmal performance… And Opera doesn’t do it for me anymore.

  23. Long time FF-fanboy

    I’ve been a firefox user since FF1.5. I still use it, and because I have 8GB of ram, it seems to work well enough, but…

    I have to shut down FF every so often, because I’ll look, and it will be using up to 2Gb of memory!! I can see it running significantly slowly at this point.

    I would switch to Chrome, but there are a few specific FF extensions that I rely on, that I still haven’t been able to find on Chrome. Once those are released, there is a good chance I will change.

    What bothers me the most about these new FF rapid release updates is that they are made purely for the developers, not for the users. And the user should be first, no matter what. After all, without users, FF just becomes another Opera (though in all honesty, Opera runs a lot better than FF these days).

    The other thing these rapid updates lose out on is the hype that goes with a new release. Anyone remember the releases of FF3 and FF4? They were huge – people campaigning around them, lots of hype, most downloads ever in 24 hours. Now I don’t even know when the updates happen, or what has changed. And I can’t be bothered to look it up every so often, because when I finally check there have been like 4 updates that I never saw.

    Firefox has become a victim of its own success. The organization behind it let the success go to their head, so that they have decided they know what’s best, without looking at what’s best for the users. It’s sad, I used to recommend it to so many people. Now I tell them to use Chrome or Opera.

  24. BikeHelmet

    Over time Mozilla has removed features from Firefox that I used… so I re-added them with addons. Perhaps I am rare in that I considered FF2-3 to be nearly perfect. Reverting all the changes is a hefty ordeal – close to 30 addons to fix/undo all the broken behaviour. What results is a browser that leaks so bad, if you open 10-15 pages and wait an hour, it will have leaked past 1GB of usage.

    At that point the interface goes nearly unresponsive – I believe that is what ‘Long time FF-fanboy’ is talking about… it can take up to 10 seconds for it to respond to clicks. Due to that, I added another addon to Firefox… a restart button.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/memory-restart/

    This is all on incredibly powerful hardware – 5ghz, 32GB RAM, 512GB Crucial M4, etc. – the browser is honestly the single slowest/heaviest piece of software on my computer… and that includes all my games.

    I really don’t care how much RAM chrome uses – I have 32GB, and chrome doesn’t slow down. That’s big. It scales properly with capable hardware. I’m slowly moving over frequently performed tasks to chrome, but it’s slow going considering how long I’ve been using Firefox, and how much I’ve added to it and had stored in it. (Thousands of bookmarks, for example, and all the cookies/logins that relate.)

  25. Andy_P

    I agree wholeheartedly. The “update” frequency has become ridiculous for no apparent improvement in speed or stability, but almost every time one of my carefully chosen add-ons gets broken.
    I have wasted many hours researching alternatives,sometimes without success, or have had to get used to reduced functionality or a worse user experience.

    I’m particularly annoyed at how, if you opt to make an update, Firefox does not make any effort to tell you if any add-ons are going to get broken until AFTER the new version has installed, and gives you no way to back out of the install process. Even the “Cancel” button on that screen just goes ahead and gives you the new version.

    Mozilla does have an archive of previous versions, but deliberately makes it a confusing experience to find out how to actually find and install the version you want (eg the UK English versions are hidden inside crypticallly named folders)

    Well, Version 26 was the last straw, when it broke “Download Statusbar”. The only alternative I can find is simply not as good, so I will make the effort to go back to v25 and will later find some time to go back even further to see if I can get other add-ons working again, such as the particular improvements I had found for the frankly pathetic standard Bookmarks drop-downs.

  26. Jeff

    Upgraded to Version 26 and now Firefox is totally unusable. Every site I try to access it blocks saying the credentials are invalid.

  27. Hurding Katz

    Amen to (almost) all of the above. The rapid revisions are generally incremental changes (and LOTS of fixes) that shouldn’t turn the full version number. There is no sin in taking some time to think things through (to see if a good idea is actually a good idea), then test, test, test, and then take all of your stakeholders (extension builders, end users) along with you. Today’s Firefox seems to be all about an insiders’ designer/programmer/coder club. The end user is an afterthought. I come of this opinion after reading responses to end-user complaints and suggestions on various Mozilla sites. The responses are usually in the vein of “you don’t understand that this is an IMPROVEMENT, so just be quiet and take what we give you.” Such a shame, really. And now I hear they’re killing the Add-on bar (which inadequately replaced the Status bar). Sigh.

  28. Malba

    Since the writing of this article 11 updates of Firefox have been released…. enough said.