Pale Moon 15: building a better browser

August 27, 2012 – 08:00 by in News Print Share No Comment

Moonchild Productions has released Pale Moon 15, the latest edition of its custom Firefox build, an important upgrade which sees the program take a new direction.

While previously the browser has focused very much on low-level JavaScript benchmarking as a measure of success, that’s now changed, the developer told us: “I’m going by (subjective) overall speed and smoothness as that is what really matters to end users.”

This doesn’t mean that JavaScript performance issues will be neglected, he explained. “But I’m currently only using benchmarks to spot major regressions and no longer letting them determine development direction.”

Pale Moon 15 isn't just fast - it aims to offer a better browsing experience, too

The new focus on the browsing experience is apparent when you look at what’s changed this time. Memory handling has been optimised to help make Pale Moon run a little more smoothly, for instance; the user interface should now be more responsive when the browser is busy; the Speed Dial page has been improved, the padlock returns for secure pages, and Pale Moon restores the Firefox 12-style interface, which may appeal if you don’t like the flat new controls in the latest builds.

And there are plenty of more general low-level optimisations in the new release: improved HTML5 support, performance improvements for the rendering engine, and an attempt to prevent add-in memory leaks, amongst others.

One potential problem here is that Pale Moon omits or disables some quite significant elements of the latest Firefox builds: Windows 8 Metro (oops, Modern UI) support, advanced web development tools and built-in PDF support, for instance. Most users will only benefit here as the tweaks help to keep the browser more lightweight and secure, but if you need one of the missing features then it’s going to be annoying.

For the most part, though, we think Pale Moon 15’s new focus on the subjective browsing experience is a smart move, and if you’d like to sample it for yourself then the build is available now.

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