Web developers can now download Firefox 3 Beta 1 to test more than 30 new features in the popular open-source browser released from Mozilla Nov. 19.
With Internet browsers, security, ease of use and performance typically top users wish lists.
To wit, Firefox 3 employs a button in the location bar that lets users see who owns the site. This is crucial at a time when bogus sites serve as pitfalls for unsuspecting Web users.
New malware protection warns users when they arrive at sites that are known to install viruses, spyware, Trojans or other bad code. Moreover, Firefox will inform anti-virus software when downloading executables.
The browser beta boasts clearer and stricter error pages when Firefox encounters an invalid SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. Extended validation SSL certificate information will be displayed in later versions.
Firefox also now automatically checks and disables older, unsecure software versions, and add-ons that are unsecure will be disabled. Also, Firefox now respects the Vista systemwide parental control setting for disabling file downloads.
Firefox 3 Beta 1, based on the Gecko 1.9 platform, has been under development for the past 27 months and includes nearly 2 million lines of code changes to remedy more than 11,000 issues.
The software, which rivals Microsofts Internet Explorer and Operas browsers, comes at a time when users are demanding secure, reliable browsers to access blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and other user-generated Web 2.0 technologies.
Read more here about browsers and SSL support.
Mozilla provided all due disclaimers for the beta, noting that add-ons from Firefox 2.0 will not work for Firefox 3.
"With this first beta, youll get a taste of whats coming in Firefox 3, but theres still more to come, and much of what youll see is still a bit rough around the edges," Mozilla said in a statement on its Web site Nov. 19.
For ease of use, Firefox 3 Beta 1 includes an information bar that replaces the old password dialog so users can now save passwords upon log-in. A revised download manager makes it easier to locate downloaded files, and users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting their network connection.
The pesky add-ons white list has been nixed, allowing users to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks.
In terms of navigability and views, the new software includes full-page zoom from the "view" menu and via keyboard shortcuts, and tabs that are easier to locate thanks to the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu. The "find" tool bar now opens with the current selection, and Firefox 3s menus display using Vistas native theme.
Performance upgrades are threefold: A move to the Cairo software library makes the browser speedier; users bookmarks, history, cookies and preferences are now stored in a secure database format to prevent data loss; and more than 300 memory leaks have been plugged.
Firefox 3 Beta 1 is available for testing on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X; users can download it here.
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