First Experiences with Firefox 2 Web Browser

I today upgraded from my standard full public Firefox release to try out the test version of Firefox 2 release candidate 1. I usually do not upgrade to the test versions of firefox and wait till full public release, as they end up breaking my much used extensions. Finally convinced by some friends and blog reviews, I downloaded Firefox 2 RC1 and I share my first experiences and reviews.

Firstly the install was smooth. Usually firefox before starting the new version starts checking for extension compatibility updates, and I was surprised to see that most of my extensions were not compatible with the new Firefox 2. Now that was a big disappointment and I am limited now to using a few extensions.

I found that extensions and themes previously located under the Tools drop down menu now were clubbed together a new “Add ons” link and each extension had its own Options, Enable/Disable and Uninstall button. Now even though some extensions showed they were not compatible, they were still working like my favourite Adsense notifier.

I thought of going back to my earlier version to restore extension functionality, but remember, installing Firefox 2 RC 1 will overwrite your existing installation of Firefox. So now I have to wait until updates make these extensions compatible. Also note that Firefox 2 RC 1 will be automatically updated to the final release of Firefox 2 when it becomes available.

Now I point you to some good features which includes the functionality of some popular firefox extensions which I used earlier.

The first thing you notice is the default theme is revamped and toolbar buttons now glow when you hover over them. The boxes are more rectangular and buttons have a more softer Web 2.0 look.

The firefox search bar is more interactive and suggestive. If you use Google, Yahoo or Answers, the form suggests possible search terms as you type. I have always loved this Google Suggest or Yahoo Alltheweb type features.

If tabs is the reason you switched, then some popular extension powered features are now built in tabs. Firstly by default, all links open in new tabs (instead of new windows) which is great. Each tab has its own close tab button (goodbye to tabX). If you decide to open lets say 20 tabs, they no longer crowd together into a bunch of small unrecognizable tabs, but disappear on the sides with scroll arrows on either side, or a drop down menu to see all titles. The History menu tracks a list of recently closed tabs, and lets you quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.

Another good incorporation of the Sessionsaver extension is the Session Restore feature which will restore windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads should your system or browser crash.

Links to Feeds no longer look like a bunch of coded jargon. Though my feed is browser friendly, thanks to feedburner amazing functionality, not all feed links look so good. Try opening this feed of one of our categories in Internet explorer, Firefox 1.5 and you know what I mean. Then open it in Firefox 2, it neatly formats the feed into readable understandable content, gives you an option to subscribe it using Live Bookmarks. My Yahoo!, Bloglines and Google Reader, (or select a default) and you can add more applications too. Power feed readers will find this option very useful.

While was typing my post I saw these dotted red lines beneath some words, I right clicked them and was amazed to see the inbuilt spell checker at work. It suggested possible corrected words and I could add some funny words like Bloglines to the dictionary. (I know Microsoft Word users will love this functionality). I like this feature because it is helping me identify typos in this post so easily.

If you decided to bookmark our site, you will see I have added the Microsummary functionality. It gives you an option to add a “Live Title” that fits the space available in a bookmark label and is updated with our latest post. So just drop down the Name menu in the “Add Bookmark” pop up and you will see “Live title” followed by our latest post. You can select that and add to your “Bookmarks Toolbar”. And see our latest post title in real-time when our post updates. Remember to always bookmark the front page of a blog, as that is what updates, not the post pages.

Then there is a powerful phishing protection built in. I got this wonderfully quick warning when I tested out his feature on a spam email with fake links from ebay and paypal. This truly warns and saves unsuspecting users (who might not even know about phishing) from entering their personal private and secure information on fake websites disguised as legitimate websites. See this demo link to warn you about “Suspected Web Forgery”.

Well I am sure there are many more features that they have included in this amazing version. If you are really dependent on your firefox extensions, many of them do not work now, but they will soon once the final version is released. That is a good reason you may wait for the final release. Remember Firefox 2 Release Candidate 1 (RC 1) is a preview release made available for download to Web application developers, testing community and users who want to get a sneak peek at the next version of Firefox.

Overall, these new features in Firefox 2 are wonderful and truly powerful. I think these features truly make Firefox a more safe, feature rich and user friendly browser. Eagerly awaiting the final release of Firefox 2….

Update: Thanks for all the comments for reminding me that I can force these incompatible extensions to work with Firefox 2 using Nighty Tester Tools. All my extensions are fully functional now!

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.