After being originally scheduled for release in July, Firefox 3 was finally released in beta this morning. While this first beta version is only a preview for testing purposes, it does give some early indications of what the final release will include.
As a Firefox user, and fan, I’ve been waiting for version 3 of the browser to be released by Mozilla for a while now, and I’m glad we are now finally in beta testing. This version of the browser is meant to boost security (already a Firefox priority), speed, and ease of use, and on first look, Mozilla may have just succeeded in delivering all of those aims.
There are a bunch of new features and interface improvements on Firefox 3, too many to list here, but the most noticeable, at least for me are the following.
The Places feature is a unified bookmarking and history vault. There is a new star icon next to the URL text box, which allows users to add a site to your bookmarks with a single click. You can then sort and tag them with another click of the mouse. You can also sort your bookmarks in to topics, and see your most visited sites. Places, which was originally planned to be included in the current Firefox 2 has so much functionality, you can literally sit playing with it for hours.
File downloading is now more organised, and better looking, after the system getting a complete redesign and reworking. You can now filter completed downloads more quickly, and it’s also easier to resume cancelled or paused downloads.
Security has also got a big boost with this version, as the Firefox browser now communicates with anti virus software when an executable is cued for download. There is also even stronger malware protection, with users being warned immediately if a site they visit is known to be one which downloads viruses or spyware to their computer.
The speed has also vastly improved, even on this beta version, mainly down to the architectural changes, and the move to Gecko 1.9 and the Cairo system. If it’s already this much quicker with the first beta, I can imagine it getting superfast by the time the commercial release becomes available.
On first glance then, Firefox 3 is shaping up to more of the same brilliant browsing experience from Mozilla, with increased security, speed, and usability.
Firefox 3 Beta 1 is available now for Windows, Mac and Linux and you can download it from the Mozilla servers here. Please do remember its only for testing at this stage though, and some add ons and applications will still not be fully functioning.
For the full release notes, and a run down of all the improvements to expect, visit the main release notes page here.