Firefox 2.0: You'll Like It If It's The Kind Of Thing You Like - InformationWeek

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10/16/2006
03:38 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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Firefox 2.0: You'll Like It If It's The Kind Of Thing You Like

I've been using Firefox 2.0 since Release Candidate 1 came out a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. There are no major new capabilities to the browser, but there's a couple of nifty new minor features. Combine that with Firefox's improved stability, and that means existing Firefox users will want to upgrade right away, as soon as the version hits final release. However, because there are no big new capabilities, I don't think the new version will win Firefox much new market

I've been using Firefox 2.0 since Release Candidate 1 came out a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. There are no major new capabilities to the browser, but there's a couple of nifty new minor features. Combine that with Firefox's improved stability, and that means existing Firefox users will want to upgrade right away, as soon as the version hits final release.

However, because there are no big new capabilities, I don't think the new version will win Firefox much new market share.

What's new in Firefox 2.0?Improved stability: RC2, the current version, is already significantly more stable than the current final release, which was itself pretty stable. The browser seems faster as well.

Firefox 2.0 spell-checks the text you write in the text input fields for online forms (these are known to developers as "textarea" fields). This is very handy when entering a message in Webmail, or posting to a blog or an online message board or forum.

I'm an RSS junkie, and I really like the way Firefox 2.0 handles subscriptions to new feeds. With the 1.x versions, you handle subscriptions by clicking an icon next to the address bar, which allows you to subscribe using Firefox's own LiveLines RSS feature.

With Firefox 2.0, when you click the RSS icon, you get a choice of subscribing to the feed in LiveLines or a few other desktop and Web-based RSS readers.

The RSS feed itself is previewed in the browser in a human-readable format. Previous versions of the browser showed RSS as raw code, which is confusing to everybody but the 11 people in the whole world who regularly hack RSS code by hand.

Mozilla.org is touting a bunch of other new features for Firefox 2, but none of them are all that interesting to me. They say it's got a "visual refresh"--a whole new look. I don't see any significant difference. They say there's built-in phishing protection--an alarm goes off when you access a suspicious Web address. I've found that kind of thing useless in other browsers and mail clients, and I see no reason to believe it'll be any more useful in Firefox. Enhanced search? Search was just fine before, and it's still just fine. There are some improvements to tabs, but they really apply to people who keep a dozen or more tabs open at once--I generally only use two or three tabs at a time.

So far, I've been talking from the perspective of an end user. But what will Firefox 2.0 and its competitor, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, mean to enterprise IT managers? That's the subject of this week's article by Nick Hoover.

Now that Firefox 2.0 is nearly here, I'm eager to learn about what's coming up in Firefox 3. If you know anything about it, please leave a message below.

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