Apple throttling non-Apple software, unfortunate biproduct

Some of you may have noticed that the Firefox 3 nightly builds have felt a lot snappier since a few weeks ago. There’s an interesting story in that, one that I finally have time to write up. We’ve had a number of bugs on the Mac where people were complaining of bad performance compared to Firefox 2, usually involving a test where a page was scrolled by a small step 100 or so times, and the time from start to finish was recorded. In many of these tests, Fx3 was coming in at 50% to 500%+ slower. This was odd, because in theory the graphics layer (which is what scrolling is mostly exercising) in Firefox 3 should be faster, given that it’s talking almost directly to Quartz.

Slashdot seems to have picked up on this, and in typical style, has completely misunderstood the post. To be clear, I do not think that Apple is in any way trying to purposely “cripple” non-Apple software. I also do not think that undocumented APIs give Safari any kind of “significant performance advantage” (as Firefox 3 should show!). However, as I said, the undocumented functionality could be useful for Firefox and other apps to implement things in an simpler (and potentially more efficient) manner. I don’t think this is malicious, it’s just an unfortunate cutting of corners that is way too easy for a company that’s not fully open to do.(link)

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