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6/17/2008
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Firefox 3.0 Record Download Attempt Crashes Mozilla Servers

Mozilla hopes to successfully complete 5 million downloads of the Web browser in 24 hours and set a Guinness World Record.

Mozilla's record-breaking attempt to massively release Firefox 3.0, the latest version of the only Web browser to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, unfortunately broke some of its servers as well.

Mozilla said it aimed to set a world record with the official release out of beta Tuesday. The latest version offers additional features, faster speeds, and enhanced security.

Mozilla encouraged users to host download parties so it could set a Guinness World Record for the number of downloads in one day. Currently, Guinness does not hold recorded information on the number of downloads in a single day.

Nevertheless, Mozilla has generated plenty of excitement about the launch, with nearly 2 million people saying they would download the latest version. In fact, so many people tried to access the site that the servers appeared to crash. Attempts to reach the site for the latest version of Firefox were unsuccessful at least 20 minutes after the 1 p.m. Eastern time zone launch. Mozilla hopes to successfully complete 5 million downloads of the browser in 24 hours.

In a brief Twitter, Gina Trapani, editor of Lifehacker.com noted how badly the download was progressing. "Uh-oh, getfirefox.com taking forever to load already... this is like a scheduled, 24-hour DOS attack," she said. Similar posts were being filed throughout the blogosphere.

Mozilla promises speeds that are twice as fast for Web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office, as well as more efficient memory use. Finally, user bookmarks, histories, cookies and preferences are backed up on a secure database to prevent loss due to system crashes.

Firefox 3.0 reportedly has thousands of improvements, including an Awesome Bar, which can locate Web sites with regular words, rather than a URL. The bar locates sites based on recent visit and user browsing patterns. The bar can be disabled.

The latest version, under development for nearly three years, also warns users when sites they are about to visit have malware. Users can see who owns a Web site with one click and check to make sure their connections are protected from eavesdropping. Firefox automatically checks add-ons and plug-in versions, disabling older and insecure versions. The effective top-level domain service improves restriction of cookies. Anti-virus software has been integrated to coincide with downloads, and controls allow parents to disable downloads. And, Mozilla promises fewer cross-site JSON data leaks.

An information bar stores passwords after successful log-ins, replacing the dialog box. A revised download manager allows users to see and search the name of Web sites that delivered downloaded files and enables users to resume downloads after restarting browsers and resetting network connections, Mozilla said. Other conveniences include easier zooming, scrolling, podcast and videocast access, and text selection, among other features.

Mozilla said it has also improved Windows integration with better icons, interface widgets, and Web forms. For Macs, Firefox contains OS X widgets and it supports Growl for notification of downloads and updates. For Linux, Firefox offers default icons and styles based on the GTK theme.

The browsing experience will be more personal, with search results based on individual patterns, and Web-based protocol handlers allow users to access webmail more easily than from desktop applications.

For developers, the enhanced platform improves color management, graphics and fonts, and offline support, Mozilla said.

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