Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 Is No Slam-Dunk

Labs' tests show 2.0 is a worthy upgrade, but competitors are inching ahead.

Firefox 2.0 beta 1 includes some welcome new features, catches up a bit with capabilities found in other Web browsers and adds some nice security enhancements.

However, while Firefox 2.0 is shaping up to be a good upgrade to Version 1.5 of the popular Web browser, it doesnt look like it will be the slam-dunk over the forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 that Firefox 1.5 has been to the current IE 6.x.

A welcome new feature eWeek Labs found in its tests of the Firefox 2.0 beta is an integrated spell-checker. Also well-implemented is the anti-phishing warning, which launched a very obvious pop-up when we surfed to a potentially malicious Web site (see screen).

Firefoxs search features have been beefed up: When we began entering a word in the integrated search box, Firefox 2.0 displayed a drop-down list of suggested search terms. Search engine management also is improved, and new search engines can be added from a list.

Probably one of the most noteworthy features in Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 is the addition of microsummaries for bookmarked Web sites. Microsummaries are essentially small updated headlines that sites can create that display in the bookmark sidebar in Firefox.

Firefox 2.0 now does a better job of handling both browser crashes and accidental tabbed window closures, and we really liked the Recently Closed Tabs section in the History menu, which made it simple to restore tabbed windows we had accidentally closed.

Feed management has improved through the addition of a preview page that provides information on an RSS feed when subscribing to it. The most surprising thing about this feature is that it marks the first time (at least as far as we can remember) that a feature appeared in IE before Firefox.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 also includes quite a bit of under-the-covers improvements and additional standards support; however, unlike Opera 9 and Safari (but like IE 7), it still will not pass the Acid2 Web standards test from webstandards.org.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com