Mozilla, it seems, have been following Chrome’s lead in some browser features. This is evidenced by the mock-ups for Firefox 3.7 and 4.0 where they consider moving tabs above the address bar as well certain additions to Firefox 3.5 (namely private browsing).
But what Firefox needs to be learning from Chrome is that browser startup speed is essential.
From my experience with Firefox and Chrome, Chrome loads extremely fast but Firefox tends to load somewhat slowly, even without comparing it to Chrome’s speed.
And why is this? By default, when you load Firefox it checks for updates for Firefox, your add-ons and search engines. The more add-ons you have, the slower Firefox will load. This is certainly not a good way to encourage people you use add-ons, or even use Firefox when Chrome is an alternative.
I do use a fair number of add-ons for Firefox and, while I appreciate that Firefox checks for updates, I do not believe that the load process is a good time to do so. I would rather have a faster load process and restart Firefox on the off chance there’s an update than sit around waiting for it to check for possible updates.
You can of course turn these updates off (Options > Advanced > Updates), but that means you have to manually check for updates.
Checking for updates wouldn’t be a problem if they ran in the background after Firefox has loaded. You could then be prompted to restart Firefox to complete the updates. This is how most other programs seem to handle updates – even Windows performs updates while it is loaded. The exceptions tend to be programs that need you to be running the same version as everyone else (e.g. MMORPGs). Perhaps this will happen once Firefox switches fully to multi-threading.
I would go as far as to speculate that when add-ons come to Chrome for the general public, Google will not let them dent it’s incredible startup speed by making the same mistake as Firefox.
Thanks to Octavian for reminding me about Google Updater. This is a background process that is added to your computer when you install any of Google’s products and is how they can load without an update check slowing them down. Google Updater runs all the time, continuously checking for updates for the Google software installed on your machine.
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