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Firefox 3 Beta 1

It’s finally here! The first beta of Firefox 3 (Gran Paradiso) was released a few minutes ago. Although I’ve occasionally used Firefox 3 for testing and experimentation purposes, today was the first day I finally made the switch to using it full-time. And I’m glad I did – it’s awesome. I can’t speak for the other platforms, but the difference on Mac is amazing. The visual refresh hasn’t landed yet, but you can see what’s in the works here.

The browser just feels faster, and OMG cocoa widgets and unified toolbar! One of my favorite features that I’m slowly taking advantage of is being able to start typing any part of a url or page title and have the page I was looking for appear right in the URL bar.

So, if you want to try it out, head on over to the download page. And if you’re on Mac, I highly recommend installing the prototype theme of the visual refresh – it’s awesome. (Note: this is still a beta, so bad things could happen, so use at your own risk! But if you’re on Mac, it’s pretty much worth it.)

If you’re looking for information on what’s in Firefox 3, check out the release notes page. I’ve included a short summary from the announcement of the main things below in case you’re not interested in the details.

  • Improved security features such as: better presentation of website identity and security, malware protection, stricter SSL error pages, anti-virus integration in the download manager, and version checking for insecure plugins.
  • Improved ease of use through: better password management, easier add-on installation, new download manager with resumable downloading, full page zoom, animated tab strip, and better integration with Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
  • Richer personalization through: one-click bookmarking, smart search bookmark folders, direct typing in location bar searches your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, ability to register web applications as protocol handlers, and better customization of download actions for file types.
  • Improved platform features such as: new graphics and font rendering architecture, native web page form controls, color profile management, and offline application support.
  • Performance improvements such as: better data reliability for user profiles, architectural improvements to speed up page rendering, over 300 memory leak fixes, and a new XPCOM cycle collector to reduce entire classes of leaks.

Huge thanks and congrats to everyone that’s been working for so long on Firefox 3 and Gecko 1.9 (27 months!).

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