The browser release race is hot, hot, hot. Six days ago we had Firefox 2.0 RC2
, last week all kinds of talk of an imminent IE 7 release
, and today Firefox 2.0 RC3 is ready for use and abuse.Moving closer towards broad extension support, Mozilla advises that users should expect most, but not all of their extensions, plugins and themes from previous versions of Firefox to work properly.
The quick and dirty dump of RC3 changes is:
- Visual Refresh: Firefox 2's theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability without altering the familiarity of the browsing experience. For instance, toolbar buttons now glow when you hover over them. We will continue to improve the look and feel throughout the release candidate process.
- Built-in phishing protection: Phishing Protection warns users when they encounter suspected Web forgeries, and offers to return the user to their home page. Phishing Protection is turned on by default, and works by checking sites against either a local or online list of known phishing sites. This list is automatically downloaded and regularly updated when the Phishing Protection feature is enabled.
- Enhanced search capabilities: Search term suggestions will now appear as users type in the integrated search box when using the Google, Yahoo! or Answers.com search engines. A new search engine manager makes it easier to add, remove and re-order search engines, and users will be alerted when Firefox encounters a website that offers new search engines that the user may wish to install.
- Improved tabbed browsing: By default, Firefox will open links in new tabs instead of new windows, and each tab will now havea close tab button. Power users who open more tabs than can fit in a single window will see arrows on the left and right side of the tab strip that let them scroll back and forth between their tabs. The History menu will keep a list of recently closed tabs, and a shortcut lets users quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.
- Resuming your browsing session: The Session Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. It will be activated automatically when installing an application update or extension, and users will be asked if they want to resume their previous session after a system crash.
- Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds: Users can decide how to handle Web feeds (like this one), either subscribing to them via a Web service or in a standalone RSS reader, or adding them as Live Bookmarks. My Yahoo!, Bloglines and Google Reader come pre-loaded as Web service options, but users can add any Web service that handles RSS feeds.
- Inline spell checking: A new built-in spell checker enables users to quickly check the spelling of text entered into Web forms (like this one) without having to use a separate application.
- Live Titles: When a website offers a microsummary (a regularly updated summary of the most important information on a Web page), users can create a bookmark with a "Live Title". Compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated with the latest information. There are several websites that can be bookmarked with Live Titles, and even more add-ons to generate Live Titles for other popular websites.
- Improved Add-ons manager: The new Add-ons manager improves the user interface for managing extensions and themes, combining them both in a single tool.
- Extended search plugin format: The Firefox search engine format now supports search engine plugins written in Sherlock and OpenSearch formats and allows search engines to provide search term suggestions.
- Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.
- Client-side session and persistent storage: New support for storing structured data on the client side, to enable better handling of online transactions and improved performance when dealing with large amounts of data, such as documents and mailboxes. This is based on the WHATWG specification for client-side session and persistent storage.
- SVG text: Support for the svg:textpath specification enables SVG text to follow a curve or shape.
- New Windows installer: Based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, the new Windows installer resolves many long-standing issues.
Web application developers, the testing community, and users who want to get a sneak peek at the next version of Firefox should download and install
the latest build.