Friday, November 23, 2007

Firefox 3 Beta Answers Some Questions, Raises Others


CRN Test Center downloaded Firefox 3 Beta 1 from Mozilla for a peek to get an idea of what users can expect when Firefox 3 is officially launched. Since this is a beta, the browser is intended for testing purposes only. While no one expects the browser to be production-ready now, if history is any guide, the likelihood of users going ahead and upgrading increases the longer the product stays in beta.

The beta was downloaded onto a Compaq desktop with AMD (NYSE:AMD) Athlon processor, a five-year old Dell (NSDQ:Dell) Inspiron notebook, and a three-year-old IBM (NYSE:IBM) Thinkpad T42 laptop. All three machines run Windows XP. Installation was painless and took less than five minutes on all machines. Bookmarks and profiles from both Firefox and from Internet Explorer migrated seamlessly. However, the browser didn't work well on all hardware configurations.

The Dell Inspiron originally had Firefox 1 installed instead of Firefox 2 because the memory leaks were so severe that the newer browser was practically unusable. Firefox 3 Beta 1 didn't seem to have any of the memory problems. It ran a little slowly, but that was a reflection on the hardware's age and not on the beta. Firefox 2 works just fine on the Thinkpad, but the beta was very sluggish and had moments of unresponsiveness. This could be an issue in the beta or in interoperability with other third-party applications. Hopefully, the uneven experience across different hardware will be resolved by the time the software comes out of beta.

Overall, Firefox 3 looks identical to Firefox 2. The visual differences between the two are fairly minor " most of the changes seem to be under the hood. Some menu options have been removed entirely, or renamed. For example, Text Size in Firefox 2 under View is now called Zoom under Firefox 3. Firefox 3 comes with a DOM inspector, which is very helpful for developers looking at scripts.


[via crn]