Firefox 15 is out, brings less RAM usage and real silent updates

Back in July dotTech covered the features to expect in Firefox 15. Now Firefox 15 has been officially released and we know exactly what it brings with it. Let’s take a look.

Out of all the major changes to Firefox 15, the most significant changes for end users are the following:

  • Less RAM usage. As explained in June, Mozilla has been working hard at decreasing RAM used by Firefox and, to an extent, Mozilla has been successful at plugging Firefox memory leaks. Until now, however, Mozilla was not able to tackle memory leakage from Firefox add-ons. Firefox 15 changes that. Firefox 15 has improved add-on RAM usage management capabilities. In other words, if you use Firefox add-ons, you should see little to no memory leaks related to those add-ons.
  • Real silent updates. Mozilla has been touting silent updates for Firefox for a while. However, until now they haven’t truly been silent updates — users still receive some sort of prompt or notification of an update. Firefox 15 brings “real” silent updates, such as what you see in Chrome. You should no longer see Firefox update notifications or prompts — Firefox should update on its own (unless you disable automatic updates).
  • Native PDF reader. Mozilla is working on bundling Firefox with a native PDF reader meaning users will no longer have to download a third-party PDF program to view PDFs in Firefox. Take note, however, in Firefox 15 this native PDF reader is only in its beginning stages — it is not ready for public use yet. Firefox 15 sees the foundation laid for this PDF reader; expect it to appear in later versions.

Other changes in Firefox 15 you may or may not care about are:

  • WebGL enhancements
  • Localization in Maithili
  • New JavaScript debugger
  • New “Responsive Design View”
  • Native support for Opuc audio format
  • Ability to trigger “Page Inspector” on or off

If you want to learn more, you can hit up the official Firefox 15 release notes. If you don’t want to learn more and just want Firefox 15, you should see a Firefox 15 update pushed to you through Firefox’s automatic update or, if you don’t want to wait, you can hit up the link below to manually download Firefox 15.

Firefox 15 download page | Firefox 15 official release notes

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  • Horrabin

    I’ve been running Waterfox (a 64-bit variant of Firefox) for a long time. It’s currently at v15 just like its parent and I absolutely love it. I have a lot of add-ons (some which I rarely use but they’re there if I need them, such a some webmaster tools) and they all work fine. Flash (64-bit variant) crashes somewhat often, but a page reload fixes that. It deals with nearly every web tech out there that’s currently implemented, unlike IE (all versions), which flunks miserably. IE 9 & 10 have also broken the menu on the commercial site I run so I’m over hauling that this weekend. I believe this is due to a recent MS update but I’m not sure how recent. From what my customers say, at least a month or 2 but I just found out. Works fine in all other browsers & has for years until now. Between issues like these, and security problems, I refuse to use IE of any version except for site testing. Chrome’s quick but I don’t trust Google much (forced to on my Thrive tablet, but I let out as little info as possible on it, although Google probably knows what I’m having for supper tonight anyway).

  • sl0j0n

    Hello, “JonE”.
    Thanks for the input.
    I’m still using Firefox, too,
    mainly for the same reasons.
    I think Chrome’s good,
    but you need the DoNotTrack extension,
    and Private Browsing, 24/7.
    I know we’re all being tracked, online,
    all the time.
    I just don’t want to make it any easier,
    for those who disregard my privacy.
    I’ve tried a ‘few’ other browser options,
    most are not that much better.
    I.E. is out,
    as long as almost any other browser is available.
    Back in ’97-98, I had to reformat,
    thanks to a ‘drive-by’ infection with I.E.
    NEVER again, as long as another,
    more ‘secure’ browser is available.
    I’m typing this on Pale Moon,
    an ‘optimized-for-Windoz’ version of Firefox.
    When I finish, I’ll upgrade to v.15.
    I’ve already got Firefox 16,
    on the ‘beta update channel’.
    I can swap back and forth,
    as the PM lags Firefox somewhat.
    So far, its good on “silent updates”.
    I had to check,
    to see that Firefox is up to v.16.
    IF I see the need,
    I can ‘backtrack’ to an older version.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbor!

  • Josh

    I have no urgent need for any of the changes mentioned, therefore they do not inspire me enough to upgrade. I shall stay with what I have. At least I know all my add-ons and tweaks are working fine and I know where to find things. I am all for progress, but FF is progressing so rapidly that it has left me far behind in terms of newer versions. I have simply lost interest in keeping up with it. Until it reaches the stage where upgrading becomes essential or, at least, justifies the effort, I shall just keep a dim and distant eye on things.

    BTW, I have never liked automatic updates. They cause too many unforeseen problems and I prefer to be in control. Nice of them to allow an opt-out, but moving to silent mode puts me off, rather than enthuse me. The RAM issue seems to have become an obsession, but has never been serious enough to have been an issue for me.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I haven’t had RAM issues with FF in a long time; although I don’t use a lot of add-ons. I have played around with Opera, Chromium, Avant and some others, but none have wooed me away from Firefox.

  • JonE

    I have to side with Ashraf on this one. I’ve tested all the major browsers, the ones listed by Mags, plus many more, including many Chome and IE alternatives. I tested all of the browsers tested across the Internet and in each case each browser tested failed at some point. It would take way too long to list all my test notes and data, but suffice to say the Firefox was the only browser that performed without failing across the Internet. Admittedly, while Firefox may have been a bit slower than some browsers, for some tasks, it was the only browser tested that performed all tasks without failure.

    That and no browswer I tested has the flexibility Firefox offers; Period. There are quite a few good IE Alternatives out there, but with the “IE Tab 2” addon extension I can view any IE only page; IE Tab 2 has never failed me.

    I don’t want to have to have multiple browsers to be able perform different tasks. I will admit that I do have more than one Firefox Profile, but that’s another reason I use Firefox.

    I’m not going to say that I tested every browser out there, one thing I learned while doing testing is there are more browsers out there than I ever realized, but I did test quite a few. There was one other browser that I did end up leaving installed that I used solely for “facebook” when I was on “facebook” and that is “RockMelt”; a Chrome Alternative. RockMelt performed better on “facebook” than any other browser tested including Firefox. But that’s the only thing I used RockMelt for; facebook. I never liked the way “RockMelt” was always wanting me to log the browser into facebook; that I would not do.

    With all that said I have to tell you that I will not use IE or Google Chrome and that is because of privacy and security concerns across the board. Firefox regardless of version has always been the best all around browser I’ve ever tested or used.

    I’m not sure how all the FF3 users have survived the Internet without upgrading; I upgraded because there were things that FF3 simply could not do across the Net. I’m currently using version 9.0.1. And yes, I will admit that, like Ashraf, there have been some groaning and growing pains along the way. And I will admit that I grew tired of Mozilla’s shotgun approach to upgrading-updating, but still Firefox is the best all around browser I’ve tested of used; Period.

    I may give this version 15 a try; not sure yet; not sure I like this Silent Update thing.

  • Mags

    @Ashraf: I’m with Mike on this issue. I’m still using FF3, but have been looking at other browsers lately.

    I tried other versions of FF a couple of times but went back to V. 3.

    I’ll probably give V 15 a try, but at this point I think it is too late for me.

    I’m ready to switch, just not sure which browser to choose right now.

    How about a comparison of lesser known browsers vs IE, Chrome, FF, and Opera.

  • Ashraf

    @Mike: I’m still using Firefox despite the pain I’ve had to go through since FF3. It seems to have paid off, FF is getting better.

  • Mike

    I wonder if, for some of us, it’s just too little, too frustratingly late (especially the latter) . . . .