Firefox 2.0 Review

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Comprehensive pop-up controls to keep unwanted advertising off your desktop;
  • (3 more, see all...)

By the time the first version of Mozilla Firefox was released, Internet Explorer was already used by more than 90% of the world population. In just a few years, Firefox managed to take the browser market by storm, increasing its popularity to around 14% while IE struggled to maintain around 80% of the market share. Now, with the final 2.0 release of this amazing browser, one question comes to everyone's mind: Does Firefox 2.0 have what it takes to ever get close to IE's market share? We shall wait and see.

The first thing that stands out in the new Firefox is the more modern look and feel. Everything is more shinny, more playful and more clickable. Tabbed browsing feature was a major innovation that made Firefox quite popular and in version 2.0, there are further improvements to this. By default, the links now open in a new tab instead of a new window and each tab has its own close button. There is also a new handy way of switching between the tabs, via a pull-down list of all open tabs. I think the new tab style is well done compared to the faded effect used in Beta 2 version of 2.0. The only bad thing I could find with the tabbed browsing function is that I can't rearrange and organize tabs using drag-n-drop. Also, pages are now rendered differently so loading them will take less time.

A number of other minor interface improvements have improved the usability of the browser in this new version. The search box will generate a list of recommended search terms when used with a compatible search engine, and a new search engine management dialog makes it possible to remove or reorder installed search engines. Additionally, a new add-ons window has been added which provides a multi functional interface for managing extensions, themes and updates. Search function has also suffered some changes. For some reason, pressing "/" will initiate a new quick-search, feature that will come very handy to those used to Vim and its search feature. Moreover, if you search for a word on Google and open a web page from the results, on that page, the word you were searching for will be highlighted.

Another quite interesting feature in Firefox 2.0 is the integration of RSS Readers. Since its early days, Firefox has made a commitment to usability and ease of use, which implies integrating all things web right into the browser. Wiring search engines into the browser is one example. In Firefox 2.0, we now see similar integration done with RSS readers. This feature only intercepts RSS feeds on websites and sends them to either an external application, or to a web service such as Google Reader. Unfortunately, this version of Firefox doesn't also have a RSS reader so we'll have to install an extension.

Session management and built-in spell check are the two new features that I find the most useful. The session manager enables you to restore a session after a crash or after a browser restart required by an extension installation. Users can also optionally configure the browser to automatically restore tabs from the previous session every time the browser starts. Moreover, if you close a tab by mistake, Firefox allows you to correct that mistake by following the menu History > Recently Closed Tabs.

The integrated spell check feature is easy to use, and it works exactly as one would expect. The built-in dictionary generally provides reasonable correction recommendations, and the highlighting used to indicate a potentially misspelled word is easily visible, but still unobtrusive. It's essentially the same spell checker that has existed in more serious writing applications (word processors, email clients, etc.) for years, with red dotted lines under misspelled words and right-click action to suggest correct spellings. Unfortunately, I had some hard time with the spell-checking because my version of Firefox didn't come with a dictionary so I had to download it manually from the add-ons website. If you also have troubles with the spell-checking feature in Linux, right click on a Web form, click Add dictionaryÂ… and install the dictionary package you need.

2.0 features a built-in anti-phishing protection mechanism that detects web site forgery. 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.

The Good

In my opinion, Firefox has gathered all the great features from several browsers and applications and joined them together, creating a browser that's the closest to perfection. When it was released, Firefox revolutionized Internet browsing by its astonishing features and increased security. Now, with the 2.0 release, Firefox has grown to be even better, faster, more secure and good-looking than ever before. I really do believe Firefox users will be very pleased with the new version and that Mozilla will hopefully approach Microsoft's market share.

The Bad

However, there is always room for improvements. In order to gain more popularity and bigger market share, Firefox will need even more innovation and web integration. In the near future, I hope to see a better bookmark and history system, more productivity features and, why not, even some built-in applications such as a RSS reader.

The Truth

Firefox has been a powerful, fast, secure and good-looking browser since the first day it hit the Internet streets. The new released Firefox version offers features that increase even more its performance, stability, usability and security. However, there is still room for improvements in order for Firefox to gain more popularity.

Check out some screenshots below:

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user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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