Firefox 3.6 may be just a point upgrade, but it does offer some welcome new capabilities and improvements over Version 3.5 that make it worthwhile. Most welcome are the new Personas feature and enhanced support for plug-in handling and for HTML5.
The newly released Firefox 3.6 may be just a point upgrade, but it does
offer some welcome new capabilities and improvements over Version 3.5 that make
The most noticeable new feature in the new Mozilla browser is Personas,
previously available only through an extension. Essentially simple themes for
the browser, Personas allow users to make changes to the look of the browser.
Ready-made Personas are available at www.getpersonas.com.
As I browsed through the gallery at the site, I could deploy and try out new
Personas for my Firefox browser with a single button-click. Once I had
downloaded different Personas, I could switch among them or uninstall them
using the Themes tab in the Add-ons management window. Personas also can be
easily developed by anyone with basic Web authoring and design skills.
For a look at Firefox 3.6's new features, click here.
With Firefox 3.6, Mozilla has also made a welcome improvement to the way in
which the browser handles classic plug-ins. Although it has been easy with
previous versions of Firefox to keep Extension add-ons up to date, the same
can't be said for classic plug-ins. With Version 3.6, Firefox now tracks
plug-ins, and users can view a Web page to see if their plug-ins are up-to-date
or need to be upgraded.
Firefox has been one of the leaders in supporting the emerging HTML5
standard, and Version 3.6 provides some new capabilities in the handling of
video. When viewing HTML5 video natively in the browser, users can now
right-click in the video window (so long as the site hasn't blocked access to
the video context window) and choose to view the video in full-screen mode. In
this mode, all browser user interface features are removed, with pop-up video
controls at the bottom of the screen.
However, as an open-source browser, Firefox does not support the proprietary
h.264 video codec. This means that Firefox does not currently work with the
recently announced YouTube
videos available through HTML5.
Firefox 3.6 also features improvements to the underlying engine and
performance of the Web browser. In initial tests, the speed of the browser-in
terms of both start-up time and site browsing performance-was good. In tests
performed with the Peacekeeper
Firefox 3.6 showed notable improvement over Version 3.5 of the
browser, and was very close in performance to Chrome 2.0 (though still a bit
behind Chrome 3.0).
As always, Firefox is available on most operating systems, including Linux,
Mac OS X and Windows. To download Firefox 3.6, go to www.mozilla.com.
Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.