Firefox Version 3
I just read that Firefox 3 is now available. What new features does it have, and should I upgrade now, or wait a while?
Firefox 3: Should You Upgrade?
Firefox 3 Beta 1 has been in the works for over two years, and has been re-architected for improved performance, stability, security and ease of use. Here's a rundown of some of the new features in Firefox Version 3, and a guide to deciding if you should download it now or wait a while:
New Ease of Use Features in Firefox 3
- Password management: An information bar prompts you to save passwords after a successful login.
- New Download Manager: Have you ever downloaded a file and then couldn't find it? The download manager has been spiffed up so it's easier to locate and open downloaded files.
- Resumable downloading: If your internet connection hiccups during a download, all is not lost. Now you can resume downloads after restarting the browser.
- Full page zoom: A nice feature for those struggling with small print, you can press Ctrl-Plus to magnify the text and images on a page. Ctrl-Minus goes the other way, Ctrl-0 resets to normal view. You can do the same thing by pressing Ctrl and using the scroll wheel on the mouse.
- Tab scrolling and quickmenu: tabs are easier to locate and navigate with the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu. Look for the little arrows at the left and right edges of the tab bar when you have lots of tabs open.
- Text selection improvements: If you're a power cut and paster, you'll love these: Hold Ctrl and then mark multiple text selections. Double-click and drag mouse cursor to select in "word-by-word" mode, or triple click to select a whole paragraph. I also noticed that Ctrl-Click will quickly mark an entire cell of a table.
- Find toolbar: Mark some text with the mouse, and press Ctrl-F. The Find toolbar will open with the marked text pre-filled.
Advanced, But Cool Features
- Star button: To add a new bookmark, click the Star button to the right of the location bar. Double-click to lets you file and add keywords tags to your bookmarks for easy sorting.
- Location bar auto-complete: Here's why tags are cool... start typing in the location bar, and a dropdown list appears with items that match any of your tags, bookmarks or URLs in history.
- Smart Places Folder: Click the Places folder to quickly find recently visited, frequently visited, bookmarked and tagged pages.
- Bookmarks and History Organizer: More powerful search for your history and bookmarks, with multiple views.
Improved Security in Firefox 3
- Malware Protection: Gives a warning when you visit sites which are known to install viruses or spyware. A database of rogue sites will be maintained to help identify the Evildoers.
- Web Forgery Protection: If you stumble into a "phishing" site, Firefox won't even show the page. I don't know why the nice folks at Mozilla felt it necessary to invent the new term "Web Forgery" when "phishing" has been in widespread use for years. But anyway, if you get fooled by a scammer and click an email link to something that's pretending to be eBay, PayPal, or your bank, Firefox will slam on the brakes for you.
- Vista Parental Controls: Windows Vista has a parental control setting that lets you disable file downloads. The new Firefox is aware of that setting and will not allow browser-based downloads when it's turned on.
- One click site info: This one is a little disappointing. Clicking the small icon (favicon) next to the URL in the address bar is supposed to show information about the site's owner. But it only works for secure (https) pages and even then, all it does it tell you whether the site has a security certificate. Using this feature on a regular non-secure page, even for a well-known site, will tell you "This website does not supply identify information." It would be MUCH more useful if Firefox displayed the site owner info from the WHOIS database.
Firefox 3 Performance and Reliability Improvements
- Speed: Extensive architectural changes to the Firefox code base has brought speed increases in Beta 1, and further gains are expected in future Beta releases.
- Reliability: All of your bookmarks, browsing history, cookies, and preferences are now stored in a secure database to prevent the loss of your settings and data, even if your system crashes.
- Memory usage: There have been many complaints about excessive memory use by Firefox, so it's good news that over 300 memory leaks have been plugged in Firefox 3. The programmers are continuing to look for ways to optimize memory use, so by the end of the Beta test, Firefox should be a mean, lean browsing machine.
If you enjoy trying new things, give Firefox 3 Beta 1 a test drive. You may even decide to stick with it. But be forewarned that this is beta-test software. So it may contain a few bugs and unexpected quirks. It seems very stable, but I wouldn't expect it to be perfect. There are known problems with Google Maps, Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Mail on Firefox 3 Beta 1. On Vista, you may be unable to launch Firefox if Parental controls are enabled. And some window focus issues have been noted on Mac OS X.
Also, some of your Firefox add-ons and plugins may not work with this version. I found that living without RoboForm and Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer was a big hit to my productivity, so I'm rolling back to Firefox V2 for now, but I plan to check out the Version 3 betas as they roll out. Feel free to comment below on your experience with Firefox 3.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Nov 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Firefox Version 3 (Posted: 20 Nov 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved