Firefox 3 was released last week, and it's hands down the best Web browser I have ever used (and I've used a lot). It's so much better than anything else out there that you should make it your default browser and do whatever you can to get your company to do the same.
It's free, it's very fast, it's got thousands of useful add-ons, it protects you, and best of all, it makes browsing the Internet fun again. Try it for a week and you'll be a believer too.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should upgrade to Firefox 3 (or try it out for the first time) today.
1. It Makes the Web Faster
Browsing the Web feels faster on Firefox 3 than on other browsers I've used recently (including Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2, Safari 3, Opera 8). (benchmarks)
The rendering engine -- a browser's core code that translates HTML into the webpages you see -- has been overhauled. Webpages are loading faster.
The browser feels significantly snappier when switching tabs, even if there are tabs still loading in the background. I often have dozens of tabs open at the same time. With Firefox 2, there would be a slight pause when switch tabs.
All these speedups has the effect of making the Web feel a lot faster, which makes Web workers like you and me more productive.
2. Extensions, Extensions, Extensions!
A hallmark of Firefox since the beginning, extensions (also called add-ons or plugins) are small programs that you can install to add new features to Firefox. You are basically "building your own browser" as you add just the extensions that are useful to you.
The good news is that many of the add-ons you already use are already supported in Firefox 3. If you're a Firefox 2 user and have installed some add-ons, the compatible ones will automatically be fetched and installed along with Firefox 3. (Your bookmarks and saved passwords get automatically imported during the installation process as well.)
Extensions has always been what made Firefox better than IE. The ability to customize your browser to your needs is really useful. If you've never tried Firefox before, the existence of extensions is the biggest reason why you should give Firefox a try now.
3. Best-in-Class User Interface
Two subtle user interface changes are nothing short of revolutionary.
- Location Bar (Web Address Bar) -- Firefox 3's new "Awesome Bar" (nicknamed by beta testers) lets you search for a Web address based on the content's title instead of the URL. Now you don't have to remember a website's URL to use the location bar. Just start typing in the name of your favorite website, and you'll be presented with a list of options to choose from. See the screenshot of the Awesome Bar. Note that I was typing in the name of the content I was looking for, not the URL like you have to do for all other browsers.)
- True Page Resizing -- The way Firefox 3 resizes webpages is how all future browsers will do it. Images are now resized as well, so that the entire webpage scales up or down proportionally. See the screenshots of resized webpages. Note that the image ads are resized in proportion to the resized text. (You can resize a webpage by holding down the CNTL key while pressing + or -.)
Another improvement I love is the enlarged "back" button. By far the most used navigation button, I'm surprised it took this long for browser designers to come up with a bigger button!
The download manager has also gotten an upgrade. It's now possible to resume downloads even after restarting Firefox.
4. Improved Phishing (Identity Theft) Protection
Phishing is the scam practice of trying to get your banking information. Often via a fake website designed to look like PayPal or other legitimate banking sites.
Firefox 3 displays a warning if it thinks the website is potentially dangerous. See this screenshot of the anti-phishing features in action. Note the fake PayPal URL in the location bar.
5. No Longer a Memory Hog
This is a big deal for people who work online. If you have Firefox open all day and like to have multiple tabs open, Firefox 2 would keep using up more and more memory until you shut it down. There have been days when I had to restart Firefox 2 several times because it had slowed my computer down too much.
After a week of only using Firefox 3, it's been as fast at the end of the day as at the beginning. No restarts required at all.