eWEEK Labs tests of Firefox 2.0 Release Candidate 1 show that the new browser will be a worthwhile upgrade—with welcome usability enhancements and improved security controls—but anyone hoping that it would set the Web on fire with innovative new features will probably be a little disappointed.
With the release of Firefox 2.0 RC1, the Mozilla Foundation is providing a look at what will most likely be the shipping version of the popular open-source Web browser.
Firefox 2.0 RC1 has added a few new features and capabilities since our review of Beta 1. The most noticeable of these changes is a new default interface theme, which has tool bar icons that glow when the mouse hovers over them.
Firefox 2.0 RC1 also changes the way that the browser handles large numbers of open tabbed windows. In previous versions, the browser would squeeze all the tabs onto the screen. Now, the browser leaves the tabs sized normally and adds arrows to the left and right of the tabbed window bar; users can click on these arrows to see tabs that have moved off the screen. This model is much better when it comes to actually seeing whats in the tab, although we kind of miss being able to easily tell how many tabs we have open.
A smaller change in this release provides additional options when clicking on RSS feed links within the browser. Firefox 2.0 RC1 launches an informational screen about the feed and provides subscription options, allowing users to choose among adding the feed to a feed-reading service or a feed-reader application, or adding it as a Live Bookmark in Firefox.
Protection against fraudulent phishing Web sites has been enhanced in Firefox 2.0 RC1. The browser can now subscribe to a Google-based service that checks a site against a known list of phishing sites. Firefox 2.0 RC1 also can use a periodically updated list that is downloaded to the browser. We liked that the latter method is the default because the live Google service involves sending surfing information to Google—something that the browser smartly warns users about when the Google-based anti-phishing features are turned on.
While Firefox 2.0 RC1 is most likely very close to what will be the final version of the browser, it is still intended mainly for those testing the browser and is not considered suitable for everyday use. Those interested in testing out the browser can download it at www.mozilla.org.
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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