Firefox Beta 1 After weeks of rigorous testing we finally have Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 in our hands! It’s available in 21 different languages for Windows, Mac, and Linux.




The list of new features is actually rather long, and I have just about all of them laid out below. There are a few things that I want to point out before diving into them though.

  • This version still has hundreds of bugs in it. Asa Dotzler, Mozilla’s Quality Assurance leader, did say that it is the “most thoroughly tested beta [they’ve] ever shipped” though.
  • Those of you who do decide to throw caution into the wind and give it a whirl should be prepared for poor extension compatibility. Many extensions, especially those pertaining to bookmarks, will probably not function to their full potential if at all.

I was originally planning on writing a full review once Firefox 3 hit the Beta stage, but there is still a lot more to be done on the browser. A new theme is in the works and many of the features have some fine tuning that is already underway. Writing a complete review at this point would not be a great idea because so much is still going to change, especially in the performance area. As of right now Mozilla has squashed over 300 memory leaks in Firefox 3, but they still have plans to make Firefox perform better than any other version before it.

Alright, now let’s jump into the list of features! Don’t forget to go download Firefox 3.0 Beta 1!

More Security

  • One click site info: Click the site favicon in the location bar to see who owns the site.
  • Malware Protection: malware protection warns users when they arrive at sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware. You can test it here (note: our blacklist of malware sites is not yet activated).
  • New Web Forgery Protection page: the content of pages suspected as web forgeries is no longer shown. You can test it here.
  • New SSL error pages: clearer and stricter error pages are used when Firefox encounters an invalid SSL certificate.
  • Add-ons and Plugin version check: Firefox now automatically checks add-on and plugin versions and will disable older, insecure versions.
  • Secure add-on updates: to improve add-on update security, add-ons that provide updates in an insecure manner will be disabled.
  • Anti-virus integration: Firefox will inform anti-virus software when downloading executables.
  • Vista Parental Controls: Firefox now respects the Vista system-wide parental control setting for disabling file downloads.

Easier to Use

  • Easier password management: an information bar replaces the old password dialog so you can now save passwords after a successful login.
  • Simplified add-on installation: the add-ons whitelist has been removed making it possible to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks.
  • New Download Manager: the revised download manager makes it much easier to locate downloaded files.
  • Resumable downloading: users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection.
  • Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images.
  • Tab scrolling and quickmenu: tabs are easier to locate with the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu.
  • Save what you were doing: Firefox will prompt users to save tabs on exit.
  • Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting.
  • Location and Search bar size can now be customized with a simple resizer item.
  • Text selection improvements: Multiple text selections can be made with Ctrl/Cmd; Double-click drag selects in “word-by-word” mode; Triple-clicking selects a paragraph.
  • Find toolbar: the Find toolbar now opens with the current selection.
  • Plugin management: users can disable individual plugins in the Add-on Manager.
  • Integration with Vista: Firefox’s menus now display using Vista’s native theme.
  • Integration with the Mac: Firefox now uses the OS X spellchecker and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates.

More Personal

  • Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them.
  • Tags: associate keywords with your bookmarks to sort them by topic.
  • Location bar & auto-complete: type the title or tag of a page in the location bar to quickly find the site you were looking for in your history; favicons, bookmark, and tag indicators help you see where results are coming from.
  • Smart Places Folder: quickly access your recently bookmarked and tagged pages, as well as you more frequently visited pages with the new smart places folder on your bookmark toolbar.
  • Bookmarks and History Organizer: advanced search of your history and bookmarks with multiple views and smart folders to store your frequent searches.
  • Web-based protocol handlers: web applications, such as your favorite webmail provider, can now be used instead of desktop applications for handling mailto: links from other sites. Similar support is available for other protocols (Web applications will have to first enable this by registering as handlers with Firefox).
  • Easy to use Download Actions: a new Applications preferences pane provides a better UI for configuring handlers for various file types and protocol schemes.

Improved Performance

  • Reliability: A user’s bookmarks, history, cookies, and preferences are now stored in a transactionally secure database format which will prevent data loss even if their system crashes.
  • Speed: Major architectural changes (such as the move to Cairo and a rewrite to how reflowing a page layout works) put foundations in place for major performance tuning which have resulted in speed increases in Beta 1, and will show further gains in future Beta releases.
  • Memory usage: Over 300 individual memory leaks have been plugged, and a new XPCOM cycle collector completely eliminates many more. Developers are continuing to work on optimizing memory use (by releasing cached objects more quickly) and reducing fragmentation.