Firefox 5 goes live. But is it any better than Firefox 4?

Firefox 5 launched today, and it has received some flak from bloggers, who point out that Firefox 5 is only a minor hop ahead of Firefox 4.

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    Firefox 5 is now available for download. But is Firefox 5 all that better than Firefox 4?
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Firefox 5 is here. Mozilla says the newest version of its browser delivers over "1,000 improvements," including plenty of patches and fixes, and a "Do Not Track" feature to help bolster the privacy of users. Also on-board Firefox 5: The ability to play CSS animations, and the capability to instantly tinker with Firefox add-ons, without slowing down the show or shutting off the browser.

Still, Firefox 5 has generally greeted in the tech blogosphere with a collective shrug. And occasionally, with a teeth-rattling tirade. Over ZDNet, Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols chides Mozilla for presenting him with a new browser that isn't even that new – as in the case of Chrome, which Google updates pretty regularly, Firefox 5 gets only a few small improvements from the version before, Vaughn-Nichols argues.

"I’ve played with the beta and few hours I’ve been working with the final version, I have to say that what I find most annoying about Firefox – its lack of stability, especially on Linux, and continued hunger for memory – doesn’t seem to be improved much, if any," he writes. "Put it all together, though, is this enough to call this version of Firefox a major new release? No. It’s not even close."

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We understand his complaints, and the like-minded complaints of other bloggers. But it's worth noting here that Mozilla has begun constantly upgrading Firefox for a reason. As Google and Apple have repeatedly proven, the way to keep a product in the spotlight is to continually rejigger it, and hold major events every time a rejiggered version appears. This picks up buzz from bloggers – guilty – and draws attention back to the product in question.

Hence the annual iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, and now (probably) iPhone 5 refresh. Hence Firefox 5, which follows so closely on the heels of Firefox 4 – and which, incidentally, was received very well by critics. Firefox currently lags behind Internet Explorer but ahead of Google Chrome in terms of market share. By continually updating Firefox, Mozilla is keeping its horse smack dab in the middle of the race.

Mozilla also insures that it can respond quickly to complaints from users, and more easily transform the browser experience to meet consumer need. Or hey, maybe not. Share your thoughts in the comments section. We're listening.

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