Firefox 3 Reaches Release Candidate 1

If you’ve been hanging out to try Firefox 3 but are afraid of running beta system on your machine now’s the time to jump in and give Firefox 3 a try. After a lengthy beta period Mozilla has released RC1 which is just about ready for prime-time.

Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko
1.9 rendering platform which according to Mozilla has ‘been under
development for the past 33 months’ and ‘has more than 14000 updates
including some major re-architecting to provide improved performance stability rendering correctness and code simplification and sustainability’

But Firefox 3 gets more than just a new rendering platform and for most users the bigger news is the updated feature set which makes Firefox 3 more secure easier to use and performs better.

Specifically
the improved performance means common websites that rely heavily on
Javascript like Gmail will run up to twice as fast as they did using Firefox
2. Other performance issues like memory usage and reliability of user
data (like browsing  history cookies and preferences) have also been
improved.

Other enhancements include a
re-worked user interface which now fits in better with the host
operating system/ For instance the OS X release now actually looks
like an OS X application rather than a copy of the Windows
version.

While most Firefox plug-ins don’t work in Firefox 3 yet developers are being given an improved platform for writing add-ons. Most notably offline support is now enabled that gives web applications (like Google Docs or Zoho
Office) the ability to provide offline functionality giving access to
web-based documents to users regardless of a live Internet connection.

In the release notes Mozilla doesn’t specifically mention the improvements in RC1 over previous Betas however with RC1 the feature set of Firefox 3 is now locked down and getting close to being given the green light. With Firefox market share now above 20% Firefox 3 should help continue to grow uptake.