Pale Moon 19 is a customised version of Firefox 19, which has been carefully optimised for speed and efficiency.
The program has been made more lightweight, for instance, by stripping out little-used components like the accessibility features, and the parental controls. The crash report has also been stripped out, as it's designed to work with server-side technology that isn't available on palemoon.org. And Pale Moon also drops support for Internet Explorer's ActiveX and ActiveX scripting technology, which also offers a security benefit as it means the browser can't be infected by malicious ActiveX controls.
Other optimisations are more technical. In particular, Firefox is compiled with the most conservative of settings, to ensure that it'll run on even ancient CPUs. Pale Moon, though, is optimised to take full advantage of modern processors, and this can give it a huge advantage over Firefox in some areas.
So how much faster can the browser be? That's a tricky question, as performance varies greatly depending on what's being tested.
And there are other tweaks, too. Pale Moon's developer reports that issues with native OpenGL rendering were "causing poor performance on a number of systems", and so Pale Moon's WebGL 3D will now use DirectX if possible instead, further improving speeds.
The browser does have one potential down side, in that it may be incompatible with some extensions. If they've assumed that the browser's program name is firefox.exe, say, or they're using components that Pale Moon has stripped out, like the Parental Controls, then you'll probably find they don't work.
This is rare, though - more extensions install and run just fine. Trying out Pale Moon also gets you access to useful extras, like the Language Packs (you can now run the program in more than 70 languages), a portable edition, and a 64-bit version. And as you can install and run both Pale Moon and Firefox together on the same system, the program is really easy to evaluate. So if any of this sounds right for you, then give Pale Moon a try, and see how much faster it might be on your system.
Pale Moon 20.0.1 is a major upgrade:
- Per-window Private Browsing.
- Panel-based download manager. See the detailed changelog for more information.
- Ability to close hanging plugins, without the browser hanging.
- Performance improvements related to common browser tasks.
- Pale Moon specific Cairo performance fix for scaling/panning/zooming of HTML5 drawing surfaces.
- Pale Moon specific fixes for performance of drawing elements (gradients, etc.).
- HTML5 canvas now supports blend modes.
- Various HTML5 audio and video improvements.
- Update of the Status Bar code to work with the new code base.
- ECMAScript for XML (E4X) is kept available for add-ons. Note that this will be removed in future versions as E4X is obsolete.
- Developer tools have been enabled by default, considering the code is practically impactless unless actually used.
- Theming has been worked on to provide better contrast on glass/dark themes and to work around styling issues present in v19.
- Updated fallback character sets to Windows-1252.
- Restored legacy function key handling (uplifted from Firefox 22).
- Fixed UNC path handling (Chemspill Firefox 20.0.1).
- Always enable the use of personas, also in Private Browsing mode.
- Experimental: support for H.264 videos (disabled by default)