Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are both based on open-source web browser engines (although Google Chrome is not entirely open source) but there are some significant differences between them, as there are similarities.

Comparison chart

Firefox versus Google Chrome comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartFirefoxGoogle Chrome
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FirefoxGoogle Chrome
License MPL 2.0 Free under Google Chrome Terms of Service
Written in C/C++, JavaScript, CSS, XUL, XBL Python, C++
Default search engine Google Google
Initial release September 23, 2002 September 2, 2008
Open source Yes No (but based on the open source Chromium browser)
Tab Groups Yes Yes
Supports custom extensions Yes Yes
Tabbed browsing Yes Yes
Operating Systems Windows, OS X, GNU/Linux, Android, iOS, Firefox OS (Unofficial ports to BSDs, Solaris, OpenSolaris, illumos, IBM AIX, HP-UX, UnixWare) Windows, OS X, GNU/Linux, Android, iOS
Auto update Yes Yes
Print preview Yes Yes
Type Web browser, Feed reader, Mobile web browser Web browser, Feed reader, Mobile web browser
Developed by Mozilla Google
Full screen mode Supported Supported
PDF viewer PDF viewer natively supported (without plugin); more features than Google Chrome such as thumbnails, page numbers, page navigation Integrated PDF reader
Omnibox (search from URL bar) Yes Yes
Freeware Yes Yes
Latest release 74.0.1 2020-3-10 65.0.3325.181 2018-3-21
Flash player Plugin available; not built-in Plugin is built-in; can be disabled
Inspect element option Yes Yes
Developer Mozilla Foundation and the open source community Google Inc. and open source contributors to Chromium
Newest version 74.0 94
Related software Firefox OS Chrome OS
Founder/Creator Blake Ross Jeff Nelson
CSS animated gradients in HTML Supported Supported
Media codecs supported WebM, Ogg Theora Vorbis, Ogg Opus, MPEG H.264 (AAC or MP3), WAVE PCM Vorbis, WebM, Theora, AAC, MP3, H.264
Available in 79 languages 79 languages
Standard(s) HTML5, CSS3, RSS, Atom, ES6 HTML5, CSS3, ES6
Layout Engine Gecko, SpiderMonkey, WebKit (on iOS only) Blink (an open-source fork of WebKit)

History of Firefox vs. Chrome

Dave Hyatt and Blake Ross began working on the Firefox project as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape's sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser. To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite's software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite. On April 3, 2003, the Mozilla Organization announced that they planned to change their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird.

Google launched the Chrome browser on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 after making the announcement on Labor Day - September 1, 2008 through a series of comic strips about Google Chrome illustrated by Scott McCloud.

Differences in Chrome vs. Firefox User Interface

Differences in Firefox and Chrome Tabs

Omnibox Address Bar

Not only is the address bar (called Omnibox) under the tab in Chrome, it also highlights the main domain of the website. For example, is displayed as (with the domain name highlighted).

Differences in menu

The Firefox menus - File, Edit, View, History, Bookmarks, Tools and Help - are absent in Google Chrome. Instead, on the top right and under the buttons to resize the application window, there are 2 icons -

Web Applications in Chrome

In Google Chrome, web applications can be launched in their own streamlined window without the Omnibox URL box and browser toolbar. This limits the browser chrome so as not to "interrupt anything the user is trying to do", allowing web applications to run alongside local software.

Handling of File Not Found (404) errors in Firefox and Chrome

While Firefox displays a simple Not Found message when a 404 error is encountered, Chrome:

Address bar (URL box) in Chrome vs. Firefox

Differences in browser home page

While Firefox allows the user to open a blank page, a homepage or a set of URLs on browser startup, Google Chrome follows a different approach that is closer to Opera's approach. Chrome shows the user thumbnails for the 9 most visited pages by the user. In addition, on the right the browser has a text box to search history and a list of recent bookmarks.

Incognito mode in Chrome

Google Chrome has an "incognito" mode where the user's activity is not recorded in history. Firefox has a similar mode, it's under tools then choose "Start Private Browsing".

Security features of Google Chrome vs. Firefox

Firefox and Chrome both have an anti-malware tool that warns users when they visit a web site that is known to install viruses, spyware and other malicious code. This tool also protects against known "phishing" sites. In addition, each Google tab is a separate process that uses (and frees up) its own memory. These processes are stripped of all rights to write files to the user's hard drive or read files from "sensitive areas like documents or desktop". This security feature does not, however, cover plugins. Since plugins may need a higer level of security access to run, some amount of protection is ensured by having them run in a separate process.

An early criticism of Google Chrome is the lack of a "Master Password" feature that Firefox supports. In the absence of such a feature, anyone who uses the browser will have access to the stored passwords. Both Firefox and Google Chrome allow users to view the stored passwords in plain text. However, Firefox's Master Password feature prevents unauthorized users to use this feature.

JavaScript engine in Firefox vs. Chrome

The JavaScript engine developed for the Chrome browser is called V8. It is an open source engine developed by Google engineers in Denmark and is a significant differentiator from other browsers such as Firefox. Google claims that their tests have shown V8 to be faster than Firefox and Safari. Google Chrome's V8 engine also has features such as hidden class transitions, dynamic code generation, and precise garbage collection.

The V8 JavaScript engine is a standalone component that can be used by other web browsers also. Internet industry experts believe that V8 is the key in Google's competition with Microsoft. Microsoft is strong in the desktop application space and Google is competing with Microsoft by offering SaaS (Software as a Service) i.e. software over the Internet. While Microsoft's software runs on the computer's Operating System, Google's applications run on the browser platform (as do web applications from other companies). The browsers that provide this platform were not designed with applications in mind. Rather, they were designed for displaying web pages with some dynamic content. Therefore, the browser vs. Operating System platform is an inherent disadvantage for web applications like Google's. In order to make web applications more compelling for the users, Google has invested in developing a much faster, better JavaScript engine that enhances the browser platform.

Extensibility of Firefox vs. Google Chrome

Firefox is a flexible, open source browser with thousands of extensions that help users customize their browsing experience. Firefox extensions are the reason it is so popular. Since Google Chrome is also an open source browser, it is expected that several Firefox extensions will be ported to the Chrome platform and be made available for both browsers. However, this will depend upon the success of the browser with the user community as well as the extensibility of its architecture.

Market share of Firefox vs. Chrome browsers

In June 2012, the browser market share of Firefox and Google Chrome relative to other browsers was as follows[1]:

Desktop browser usage share for June 2011
Source Google Chrome Internet
Firefox Safari Opera
StatCounter 32.76 % 32.31% 24.56 % 7.00 % 1.77 %
W3Counter 28.1% 29.9% 23.1% 6.5% 2.4%
Wikimedia 33.24% 29.4% 24.16% 5.89 % 3.99%
Median value 32.76% 29.9% 24.16% 6.5% 2.4% (includes mobile) 23.4% 27.2% 17.6% 21.6% 2.5%

In June 2010, Firefox share was around 31% and Chrome was around 8%. In August 2011, Chrome's share was 19.6% and Firefox was around 23.6%. This shows the tremendous gains Chrome has made, mostly at the expense of Internet Explorer and Firefox.


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