waterfoxWarren writes:

Just curious to know if anyone has tried waterfox web browser. It’s for 64 bit systems and is from mozilla. Installed it a couple days ago and while I have no tools to benchmark it, seems faster than the others with no compatibility issues with any site. Not easy to find on mozilla’s site but maybe someone could give it a spin and see what they think. I downloaded it from scourceforge.

Waterfox is a 64-bit variant of the Mozilla Firefox browser. If you have a 64-bit CPU and are running a 64-bit OS (like Windows 7 64-bit), you can try it out if you like.

It is true that with modern 64-bit Flash and 64-bit Java, both of which work like they’re supposed to, using a 64-bit browser is something that will work just like a 32-bit browser these days.

However there are still a few important things to know.

Just because an app is 64-bit does not magically make it better

People see "64" instead of "32" and think that because the number is doubled, the app must be better. Most of the time this isn’t true.

Now if we’re talking about, say, a video editing suite that requires gobs and gobs of memory to crunch and render video data faster, then oh yes, 64-bit is better because that architecture can process and access everything quicker.

In a browser application, 64-bit at this point really hasn’t proven to be any better than the 32-bit flavors. You can benchmark-benchmark-benchmark all day long and spout out numbers-numbers-numbers, but the fact of the matter is that in practical use, you will notice little to no difference in performance compared to a 32-bit browser.

Think of it this way: Would you notice a difference between a 32-bit Microsoft Word and a 64-bit Microsoft Word? Nope. Document load time – especially over a network – would only be slightly faster on 64-bit (meaning you really wouldn’t notice any significant difference). Startup and shutdown would show no major difference in speed. You get the idea.

This is Firefox we’re talking about

Being that Waterfox is Firefox in 64-bit flavor, it still has the exact same memory-munching problem Firefox does. That’s not fixed, and that’s not Waterfox’s fault at all. The way the engine works just explodes in memory use by nature.

Yes, this does mean by having the three tabs open of webmail, Facebook and Netflix that Waterfox will explode up to half-a-gig of memory use just by sitting there just like Firefox does. Again, this is not Waterfox’s fault. It’s from the engine the browser uses.

Using unofficial builds of browsers is not exactly a good idea

Major browsers release security updates quickly should any problems be discovered, and the unofficial builds are always second in line for them. Whatever team is building the unofficial build receives a notice from the official provider, they compile a version, then release – but it’s always after that major provider releases it first. And sometimes this can take weeks or even months for this to happen. Why? Because unofficial builds of browsers are released by small teams that don’t have the resources the major providers have. In other words, they "get to it when they get to it". No, this is not an accusation of laziness whatsoever. Like I said, smaller teams of programmers just don’t have the time and resource larger teams do.

Should you use Waterfox?

I downloaded it and tried it out. It’s a good 64-bit browser, and the nice part is that it operates using the same profile as your existing Firefox installation as far as I can tell. Add-ons that work in regular Firefox seem to work in Waterfox with no issues, so that’s good.

However if you’re expecting the fact Waterfox is 64-bit to cure existing issues with Firefox primarily concerning performance and memory-munching, I seriously doubt anyone who uses it will notice any significant difference.

But don’t take my word for it. Try Waterfox for yourself and see if it works fro you.

Get it here: http://waterfoxproj.sourceforge.net/