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Firefox Friday - not such a great week for the Fox, but the future looks good

Hi there, Firefox fans. The esteemed Mr. Anthony is out this weekend, so I'm your host for today's Firefox Friday. Sad to say, things aren't looking too fantastic for Firefox at the moment.

Before he left, Sebastian ran a comparison of the hardware acceleration in modern browsers, and Mozilla's baby was lagging in last place. Browser growth was also stagnant for Firefox in August, according to this month's numbers.

There might be brighter times on the horizon for Firefox, though, considering the new beta features that Seb covered last week. Anyway, let's get down to it!

The Hardware Acceleration Battle

In a three-way test run by our own Sebastian Anthony earlier this week, Chrome 7 and IE9 both kicked the crud out of poor Firefox 4 at hardware-accelerated rendering. The good news for Firefox is that it used a smaller percentage of both the CPU and the GPU than the other two browsers. It looks like Firefox is the smart choice for machines with fewer cycles to spare.

To turn on hardware acceleration in the Fox, and start putting your GPU to work on those graphics-intensive sites, you'll needa recent nightly build, and then you'll just have to pop "about:config" into the address bar and add "gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled" -- it should be set to true.

The Stagnant Browser Share Numbers

August's browser numbers have been revealed, and Firefox hasn't lost or gained any ground. IE and Opera both slipped slightly, while the webkit duo of Chrome and Safari gained a little bit. Browser nerds know that this month's numbers don't mean much, especially with both Firefox and Chrome updating their betas at a fast clip. Look for Firefox to gain ground next month if Panorama (formerly Tab Candy) catches on with the early adopter set.

HTML5 Audio Demos

Some more positive news for the future of Firefox is that it's showing off some sexy HTML5 demos to keep pace with Chrome and Safari's HTML5 showcases. This week, we showed you some spiffy uses of the audio features of HTML5 in Firefox, and you even get to see Sebastian and his irresistible British accent on video again.

If Seb is right, volume normalization in browsers could be right around the corner (finally!). For right now, it's possible to imagine amazing audio editing software in HTML5. Check out the graphical equalizer in the video -- it's quite impressive!

About:Firefox 1-day Test Pilot Study

If you want to be part of the future of Firefox, you can become a Mozilla Test Pilot by downloading the Firefox 4 Beta and installing the Test Pilot extension. Currently, the Test Pilot program is running a 1-day study called "About:Firefox," which will track various browser data for 1 day. This is about your browser settings and configuration only, so sensitive info like your homepage and browsing history won't be collected. Basically, the Firefox team wants to know what settings people are using in Firefox to decide where to focus development.

... and that's all I've got for you on this fine Firefox Friday. We'll return you to the capable hands of my co-editor Sebastian next week!

Tags: browsers, features, ff4, firefox, firefox friday five, FirefoxFridayFive, mozilla, test pilot, TestPilot