Firefox 3 Beta 1 now available: what’s inside

In case you missed it Firefox 3 Beta 1 went live in late November. As a regular Firefox user I’ve been using it and have been extremely impressed with the speed and reliability of the latest release. So impressed in fact that I deleted Firefox 2 from my Mac today.

Before we get on to the version 3 enhancements I have to say that on my Mac running Leopard Firefox 3 is much more stable than version 2 ever was. For instance when using version 2 I used to have to force-quit at least once a day with version 3 I’ve had to force-quit about once a week.

Firefox 3 looks much more ‘Mac’ like now without the use of skins

Like all other Firefox installations getting Firefox 3 up and running was a cinch. Simply grab a copy from here and drag it to your applications folder. If you do want to keep an older version just create a folder within your Applications folder called ‘Firefox Old’ and copy the old version in to the folder before installing the new version. I’d also recommend backing up your preferences folder (On a Mac located in /User/Library/Application Support/Firefox and on a PC at C:Documents and Settings[User Name]Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles).

Apart from stability Firefox 3 offers a raft of other improvements according to Mozilla including:

  • Improved security features such as: better presentation of website identity and security malware protection stricter SSL error pages anti-virus integration in the download manager and version checking for insecure plugins.
  • Improved ease of use through: better password management easier add-on installation new download manager with resumable downloading full page zoom animated tab strip and better integration with Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
  • Richer personalization through: one-click bookmarking smart search bookmark folders direct typing in location bar searches your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles ability to register web applications as protocol handlers and better customization of download actions for file types.
  • Improved platform features such as: new graphics and font rendering architecture native web page form controls colour profile management and offline application support.
  • Performance improvements such as: better data reliability for user profiles architectural improvements to speed up page rendering over 300 memory leak fixes and a new XPCOM cycle collector to reduce entire classes of leaks.

Mozilla is recommending Firefox 3 Beta 1 for developers and testers only however in my experience I’m using it as my main browser and having great success. That said if you use a lot of Firefox add-ons most of them are not yet compatible with Firefox 3 yet so you may want to hold off until the initial release.