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by Mike Zazaian September 2, 2006 - 8:58pm, 1 Comment

Firefox, the industry’s second most popular browser (13.74% of market share), has released Firefox version 2 Beta 2, which is now available for download. According to the Mozilla foundation, the brower’s new features in this milestone include:

  • New theme
  • Built in Phishing Protection
  • Enhanced search engine management and search suggestions for Google, Yahoo! and Answers.com
  • Improvements to tabbed browsing, including the ability to re-open recently closed tabs
  • Resume from where you left off after a system crash or browser restart
  • Better RSS support
  • Inline spell checking in Web forms
  • The ability to create bookmarks with “Live Titles” for Web sites that offer microsummaries
  • New Add-ons manager that simplifies management of extensions and themes.
  • Support for JavaScript 1.7
  • Extended search plugin format
  • Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions
  • Support for client-side session and persistent storage
  • Support for SVG text using svg:textPath
  • New Windows installer based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System

While most firefox users are probably chomping at the bit to install this over 1.5.0.6, the current version of, after having installed it and played around with it I urge you not to tamper with your original firefox install, as there are still some very noticable bugs and crash issues that haven’t been resolved yet, and, as you may have guessed, most of your extensions and themes won’t have support until the final release of Firefox 2. That said, here’s a quick impression from my day-long Firefox 2 beta 2 experience.

The built-in search feature has also been tweaked a bit, now with a “smart search” function that makes suggestions for you based on the keyword you type in. For anyone familiar with ajax “Live Searching” or Google Suggest, this is pretty much the same functionality. For anyone who’s not, this is a very useful feature to have, and one that’s being built into most next-gen search engines. Definately a score here.
As can be expected with most mid-beta releases, the speed on beta 2 is not quite there yet, and definately lags compared to running on 1.5.0.6. Among the other differences are, cosmetically, a slight overhaul to the tabs section — more rounded edges and transparencies are used here. Inactive tabs are about 75% transparent, the close tab X on the default theme is now red, and the browsing icons have all received a slight overhaul as well. Nothing too major, but noticable.

Digging in a little deeper, you’ll find a new Feeds management section in the options menu where you can select the various web aggregators that you might you use to put all of the feeds in one place. Nothing too spectacular, but a nifty little function all the same. Aside from that, and the more subtle changes listed above it looks a great deal like the original Firefox.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I recall a few years back, stumbling around the web, looking for a browser that I could just know was the right one — I tried MyIE2 (Maxthon), Opera, and a slew of others, but even amongst these allegedly “Matured” browsers nothing could hold a candle to Firefox in terms of speed, customization and stability, even in it’s first beta run. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The folks at the Mozilla foundation seem to have this well in hand, and should have a final release out by late October.