I’ve been an avid fan of Firefox for many years and will happily admit to running some of the first milestone versions of the original Mozilla browser back when it looked something like this:
This is a screenshot of the Milestone 11 build – if you like this and want to spend a little time reminiscing, take a look at the excellent ‘A Visual Browser History, from Netscape 4 to Mozilla Firefox‘ by Andrew Turnbull.
So, I’m really excited to see that the latest version of the browser, version 3, is making good headway with the beta 3 release. There is a bunch of enhancements over version 2, including:
- Better memory management – opening lots of tabs still bloats the memory footprint, but several leaks have been addressed.
- New themes – there is a bunch of new themes for Windows and Linux, with the Mac OS X theme looking almost identical to Safari.
- Address bar – there are some really cool enhancements to the address bar (see the screenshot below) and bookmarks have been improved.
- Plugins / Addins – a new plugin manager has been introduced which allows you to search for new plugins directly from the browser, rather than being redirected to a web-page. Unfortunately, most of the Firefox 2 plugins (addins) are not yet supported (I’m already missing the fantastic Google Browser Sync plugin), however this should just be a matter of time before they are updated.
I’ve been running the build for the last few days and it feels really stable (even though its listed as a developer test build only). One of the new features I find most appealing is the new address bar which provides an excellent layout for address suggestions – something I’ve yet to see in any browser (mind you, I’ve not used Safari or Opera all that much and yes, that is the Mac version – life without a right-click is near impossible ;-) (click for a larger image):