Firefox 2.0 Balances Innovation with Ease of Use

Review: eWEEK Labs' tests show that the Mozilla Foundation has effectively integrated many significant new features in Firefox 2.0 while making the browser easier to use.

/zimages/6/152553.jpg When Firefox 1.0 was introduced two years ago, the goal of the Mozilla Foundation was clear: take all of the innovations and strong features from the Mozilla browser suite and streamline them into a stand-alone Web browser that could compete directly with Internet Explorer and chip away at Microsofts overwhelming browser market share. Looking back, Firefox 1.0 was an unqualified success.

Now, with the release of Firefox 2.0, the Mozilla Foundation is focusing on streamlining the Web browser even further while adding usability features that will make the popular open-source browser easy for even novice users to pick up.

At the same time, the Mozilla Foundation is working to keep Firefox extremely effective, innovative and, of course, poised to gain continual market share from IE.

And, based on our tests of Firefox 2.0, we have to say, at least when it comes to ease of use, mission accomplished.

eWEEK Labs found Firefox 2.0, which can be downloaded at, to have the greatest out-of-the-box usability of any Web browser that we have tested (and thats a lot of Web browsers).

From improvements in tabbed window management to built-in spell checking to integrated search aids, new features in Firefox 2.0 make it very easy for any user to take full advantage of modern Web browser capabilities.

Other new features in Firefox 2.0 include protections against phishing Web sites, better management of RSS feeds and the ability to restore previous browsing sessions after a crash.

And, of course, unlike the recently released Internet Explorer 7, which runs only on Windows XP Service Pack 2 and the upcoming Vista, Firefox 2.0 will run on the Linux, Unix and Mac OS X platforms, as well as on most versions of Windows.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about eWEEK Labs review of Internet Explorer 7.

However, while the Mozilla Foundation has greatly boosted the usability of Firefox, some configuration options have been removed from the main settings interface, forcing advanced users to rely more on extensions to the browser or on complicated changes through about:config.

These changes may lessen confusion for novice users, but they put Firefox even further behind the Opera Web browser when it comes to ease of configuration and breadth of configuration.

Next Page: Interface changes.