Since Firefox exploded onto the web-browsing scene in 2004, it has been downloaded an incredible 200 million times according to its developers, Mozilla. Since then, apart from some minor changes, visual teaks and security fixes, there haven’t been any radical changes – that is until now. Firefox 2.0 is finally here and brings fans a whole host of integrated functions that were previously either unavailable or needed plug-ins.
Note that many of the existing themes and extensions will not work with this beta release although you can try forcing them with the “Nightly” extension – at your own risk of course.
Amongst the security highlights of 2.0 are anti-phishing support which helps the browser discriminate between genuine websites and those intended to store and retrieve your personal information. Other goodies include enhanced tabbed browsing (each with their own close option finally), the ability to un-close tabs, search plug-in/add-on manager, and much, much more. One of the most useful features we found was a predictive search function within the Google toolbar that would suggest potential phrases and popular search terms as you typed. The automatic session retrieval option (previously available with the Tab Mix Plus plugin) is also a tonic when your system crashes or you’ve got too many tabs open and Firefox cripples under the strain.
The extension incompatibility issue is the main drawback although this will change as developers update their plugins over the coming weeks and months. The legendary memory leak also still doesn’t seem to have been fixed as Firefox continues to guzzle processing power. This resulted in frequent crashes, keyboard head-banging and violent swearing.
Whilst the recently released Internet Explorer 7 is only just introducing tabbed browsing, Firefox 2.0 is already taking internet surfing to a new level. Although many of the new features are available with plug-ins anyway, this is still a rip-roaring browser and consolidates Firefox’s position as the best browser on the market by miles.
- Security and stability update