The World's Best Browser Just Got Better

by Preston Gralla

The world's best browser just got better.



FireFox is finally out of beta, and is in its "preview" release, which means...well, it's a little hard to understand exactly what it means, other than that it's been improved, and is one step closer to its final form.



If you're an Internet Explorer user, you owe it to yourself to download FireFox and see how a real browser works. If you're already a FireFox user, download the latest version, for a slew of new features.



My favorite is its new RSS support – when you're on a page that has an RSS feed using the <link> tag, an RSS icon appears in the status bar. Click it, and you'll see a list of all feeds on the page. Then click on any to subscribe, and you'll be able to read the feed from directly within FireFox.



There are other goodies as well. There's a nice new Find toolbar across the bottom of the page, better bookmarking, more flexible popup blocking, and more as well.



Unfortunately, there's also a downside to the update. Many extensions won't work with it, including the Googlebar. In time, expect the extensions to be updated, but for now, you'll have to forgo some of your favorites.



The newest version of FireFox shows just how tired and old IE has become. In time, perhaps, it'll join the modern era and add features such as tabbed browsing. But for now, if you're looking for the smartest, slimmest, and most feature-rich browser, you should head straight to FireFox.


What do you think of the newest version of FireFox? Let me know.


67 Comments

acroyear
2004-09-14 13:03:41
preview release...
means that the feature set is done, but some things might not work as perfectly as an average consumer would like.


for example, the new livebookmarks feature, when it works, works great, but when it hits xml it can't parse because it doesn't perfectly fit the standard (xml, rss, rds, atom, whatever), it fails silently. All you get is "livemark failed", but no word as to what in particular didn't parse. It could have been the server's content-type, or the xml format, or just the rss specifics, but the user gets no feedback to why it failed.


feature works for geeks, but bad usability when usability is the core requirement for a browser for the masses.

rytrom
2004-09-14 13:58:27
Where to find browsers distribution statistics?
Just today I was arguing against a thesis that IE has won this battle but couldn't find a reliable statistics about browsers distribution. Do you have a link to such?
rytrom
2004-09-15 07:16:56
here is a link
http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/006444.html
jimothy
2004-09-15 08:31:45
'Find as you type' got worse!
One feature I grew to rely on from older releases (so much, in fact, that I'm likely to revert to the previous release) is using the 'find as you type' feature to search just links. I'd type the first couple of letters of a link (e.g., 'home' or 'next') and Firefox would jump me straight to that link. Now, find as you type searchs ALL text (which you could do previously by first typing a slash [/]), which makes it useless for link navigation.


Am I missing a way to re-activate this?

martind
2004-09-15 11:13:47
copycat:ing omniweb?
aren't they they just copying features from omniweb?


www.omnigroup.com




dadawhite
2004-09-15 11:27:53
Firefox .10
MAYBE IT GOT BETTER FOR SOME THAT DID NOT USE ENHANCEMENTS!!!! I was using Firefox .9, blissfully happy. I downloaded .1 and now have a complete mess. All of my extensions stopped working, and I lost Roboform, a really awesome forms manager that fills personal and credit card data. I got "smart" thinking I could simply reset the computer to "yesterday." and start back with ,9. Now, Firefox won't load, and the download manager in Explorer is shot. It was not rocket science for them to have done basic testing of extentions, etc. I am totally disgusted! It makes me think Bill Gates is not such a bad guy, after all! SHAME!


:)

bEnderUniT1
2004-09-15 17:26:14
copycat:ing omniweb?
Omniweb? Who cares?! It's a phreaquin' MAC browser!
wtbarber@yahoo.com
2004-09-15 22:47:47
You're an idiot . . . if you still use IE.
How many times do people need to have their computer molested by "spyware", viruses, browser hijacks, uncontrolable javascript popups to wake up and stop using a IE????


1. Firefox / Mozilla doesn't leave windows wide open to these BS attacks (if you use windows).


2. There's no endless stream of security updates for firefox (unlike IE).


3. Firefox is fast and has tabbed browsing.


Take control of your computing environment.
Make the switch . . . You'll never look back.



wtbarber@yahoo.com
2004-09-15 22:48:30
You're an idiot . . . if you still use IE.
How many times do people need to have their computer molested by "spyware", viruses, browser hijacks, uncontrolable javascript popups to wake up and stop using a IE????


1. Firefox / Mozilla doesn't leave windows wide open to these BS attacks (if you use windows).


2. There's no endless stream of security updates for firefox (unlike IE).


3. Firefox is fast and has tabbed browsing.


Take control of your computing environment.
Make the switch . . . You'll never look back.



ssprasad1011
2004-09-16 06:12:52
Where to find browsers distribution statistics?
just check out spreadfirefox.com and spread the word and stats.
Philippe668
2004-09-16 08:11:02
What about opera?
Just downloaded Opera 7.54... Seems a very great browser. Beats IE excepts on certain specialised work sites...


Which one's better Opera or Firefox?

Mamut
2004-09-16 08:22:03
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
How is Tabbed MDI good? Please explain this concept to me.


Look, in order to switch to a page from another working app you have to do the following:


Tabbed MDI, standard OS interface:


1. Remember that the "Internet thingy" is shown in one window
2. Click on that window's button at the _bottom_ of the screen
3. Remember page name / tab location
4. Click on that tab at the _top_ or _possibly at the bottom_ (you have to remeber that, too) of the screen.


SDI (IE), standard OS interface:


1. Remember page name / window button location
2. Click on that window's button at the bottom of the screen



Now, how is Tabbed MDI good for browsing?


And tell me one more thing. Would you switch from your comfy WinWord 2k / XP interface back to WinWord 97 interface? I guessed you would say 'no'. So why is reverting back to old interface concepts is called a good thing?


Oh, on the final note. The 'built-in Google search'. Just in case you are wondering, I have it right here in my IE (and Firefox 0.9.7 for that matter). It' called 'tha Google Toolbar'. And what if I decide to use, say, alltheweb.com instead of Google? No way, Jose, you say?


I don't care about skins, tabbed interfaces or built-in searches.


Show me the real stuff.
Fast page rendering (It's fast, but the sky is the limit).
Standard plug-ins / extensions (extensions that stop working between milestones - puh-lease!).
_Non-intrusive_ error messages (_not_ message boxes).
Compliance to standards _and_ non-standards that have a tendency to become standards de facto, like DHTML. Yes, DHTML!


I mean the real stuff!

fennyin
2004-09-16 09:31:52
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
I'm not sure exactly WTF you're talking about with the tabbed browsing rant (I personally couldn't live without it) but...


Oh, on the final note. The 'built-in Google search'. Just in case you are wondering, I have it right here in my IE (and Firefox 0.9.7 for that matter). It' called 'tha Google Toolbar'. And what if I decide to use, say, alltheweb.com instead of Google? No way, Jose, you say?


Actually, you can add support for searching nearly anything.

Gryphon
2004-09-16 10:04:51
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Now, how is Tabbed MDI good for browsing?


I appreciate the ability to open multiple tabbed windows with the tabs showing the page name. Then I can switch between the open windows WITHOUT having to constantly go to my task bar to switch between multiple copies of an open application.


Also, seems to me system resources are not squandered - as IE does! Better for those of use who can't afford giga amounts of RAM!


Don't know how "OLD" the tabbed interface idea is, but until I switched, didn't know what I was missing. IE is just way too stale!


As for page rendering, Yep - the sky's the limit, and IE can't even get off the ground.

Mamut
2004-09-16 10:28:07
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?

Yes, you could add support for other searches, but look at what is being advertised as the best features of the new FF:

Tabbed browsing - ok, might be an improvement for some people

, non-existent in IE, but I don't see users of IE complain about that

Built-in Google browsing - Google bar exists for IE too, so what's the point?


Pop-up blocking - that same Googlebar blocks them rather well


Now. What about developing plugins for the browser? FF 1.0 doesn't work with many extensions that were developed for it. I do hope that will be fixed by FireFox developers not by extension developers because then what is the point in using a browser whose .1 upgrade (from 0.9 to 1.0) breaks compatibility with older code? And I still have to wait for a Flash plug-in that doesn't freeze half-way through my favourite game.


What about security? Is FF really secure or it is only safe beacuse nobody cares about a browser whose share is below 5% of the market? Many of IE's flaws arise from the fact that it is tightly integrated into OS itself. The fact that it has 95% of the market doesn't help it either. Will FF keep up with fixing its holes once it becomes popular enough to get hackers' attention?


These are the issues that have to be addressed / advertised, not tabbed browsing, not built-in searches, not skinnable interfaces, not the ability to change the size of your buttons.

CoZmiK
2004-09-16 16:09:13
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?

And what if I decide to use, say, alltheweb.com instead of Google? No way, Jose, you say?


Paste this in FireFox: javascript:addEngine('alltheweb','png','General')


After it installs, click the Google Logo and then choose Alltheweb


Looks like you need to do a little more research before putting down such a wonderful new browser.


And what about the RSS features? You made no mention of how FireFox blows IE out of the water when it comes to RSS feeds.


My two cents,


Cozmik



zeddy
2004-09-16 18:04:58
Firefox .10
should have read the Release Notes, under "Changes You Should Be Aware Of"


http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/releases/

jimothy
2004-09-17 11:00:33
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
You're not required to use tabs (or skins, or the Google search) if they don't appeal to you. You can have it work just like IE, with multiple window if you prefer.


Personally, I also did not understand what the hubbabaloo of tabbed browsing was...until I tried it. Now, I feel out of place without it.


As far as the task bar, I've never been a fan of a button per window, because pretty soon, the buttons become so small as to be indistguishable as you open more windows. Tabs can help you keep the windows down to a minimum.


And tabbed browsing really should not be confused with MDI, which has surely got to be the worst idea to come out of Redmond, with the possible exception of Bob. You can easily mix tabbed windows and separate windows, without them being confined to a single container window, as in MDI.


Last thing...you want "real" features? The Mozilla family of browsers offers much better and more up-to-date CSS rendering than IE. To web users and web designers everywhere, that's a very real feature.


Give it a try. I'll bet you'll like it.

douguil
2004-09-17 15:19:34
image managament
There is a major missing feature though.
With IE, you can right clik a pic and save it, transfer it as screen background, copy it etc... Non of this is available with Firefox. Each time I want to deal with pics on the web I have to return to IE.
Comander_Keen
2004-09-17 16:59:22
Firefox is just great
Is hard for me to understand people nagging about products they never used and defending programs not worth the effort.


IE is slow, insecure, buggy and has just a poor interface which makes browsing and keeping ur privacy (like deleteting logs, cookies and cache etc) time consuming.
IE does not have tabbed browsing, and that IS a Disadvantage, I never want to miss it again.


Firefox is fast, renders and scrolls incredibly quickly, it even maintains speed during multipple torrents are running (I dont know how they do that...). I have not experienced any compatibillity problems so far. It has a strong Passwort encryption engine, is probably the most secure browser available (With the possible exception of Safari ^^), and its completely free for everyone...


This Browser is just a great thing if u ask me!


I recommend trying Firefox first and then deciding wether u like it or not. If u don't try it, u might miss a lot..

Comander_Keen
2004-09-17 17:05:15
image managament
I am using 1.0 Preview release, and I can right click an Image and choose to safe it on my disk.


I can send it to my E-Mail Program by right clicking the picture. I can save the Image location, I can even choose to block that image when loading the website the next time...


The only thing I can't (and I dont need that) is making the pic my desktop background... maybe u should upgrade to another version...

snake94115
2004-09-17 19:30:07
wow
hey finally a fast easy non crowded up browser.
i've tried everything.
netscapes was sooooooo slow.
internet explorer was crap start to finish.
and every other browser i've tried was so crowded with buttons it just looked messy.
this is now the program for me.
count 1 more "FIREFOXHEAD" into the works.
i'm gonna tell everybody i know to switch.
shoalcreek5
2004-09-17 22:23:17
image managament
Version 0.9.3 includes everything except save as desktop background as well. :-)
ninjoey
2004-09-19 04:36:19
Organizing Bookmarks
Firefox leaves a bit to be desired in terms of managing bookmarks. I've tried to reorder using the sort function, but each time I do so, the original order remains unchanged. Anyone else have this same experience? That is in my Windows computer. When I installed Firefox on my G4 Mac, it was completely dysfunctional - only the icon appeared, but no browser window. And I had to force quit the application several time to get it off my desktop.
I've stuck with Mozilla 1.7.3, which seems to work better. Am I alone?
john.moura@att.net
2004-09-19 15:01:48
OK to use Email and how to ?
First time user Age 86 not PC illiterate but have much to learn JM
tobysterrett
2004-09-19 15:23:27
copycat:ing omniweb?
wow.
aonaran
2004-09-20 13:52:43
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Oh, on the final note. The 'built-in Google search'. Just in case you are wondering, I have it right here in my IE (and Firefox 0.9.7 for that matter). It' called 'tha Google Toolbar'. And what if I decide to use, say, alltheweb.com instead of Google? No way, Jose, you say?


How's that better?
IE way - download Google toolbar (461K) and get Google search and popup blocking... want to switch to All theweb? download the installer (480K)uninstall google toolbar and intstall Alltheweb toolbar.


Firefox way - Google already installed. what to add all the web, click here Alltheweb
now you might have to click on the Google G on the toolbar and select AllTheWeb. No extra software needed to be intstalled, the same can be done for hundreds of different search engines. The choice is yours.



Standard plug-ins / extensions (extensions that stop working between milestones - puh-lease!).


We are talking about a Preview Release here. When 1.0 Final comes out then go a head and bitch about plugins/extensions not working.
Until then if you want things to work don't jump on beta releases. Did you get Windows 95 in 1994 when it was still called Chicago and complain about all it's bugs? Are you using Longhorn now? how is it working for you?

wanorris
2004-09-20 15:43:17
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Tabbed browsing - ok, might be an improvement for some people, non-existent in IE, but I don't see users of IE complain about that


I didn't see any Win 3.1 users complain about the lack of a start menu, but an awful lot of people liked having it after they tried it.


Built-in Google browsing - Google bar exists for IE too, so what's the point?


And if you install 7 toolbars, you can search on your choice of 7 sites. Or you could use Mozilla with the selectable search box.


What about developing plugins for the browser? FF 1.0 doesn't work with many extensions that were developed for it. I do hope that will be fixed by FireFox developers not by extension developers because then what is the point in using a browser whose .1 upgrade (from 0.9 to 1.0) breaks compatibility with older code? And I still have to wait for a Flash plug-in that doesn't freeze half-way through my favourite game.


It's still not the final release of the application, as others have pointed out. If you go out and release a spiffy new Longhorn application today, and the spec moves between now and the final release, that's your problem, not Microsoft's.


If you don't like it, wait for the final 1.0 release before you install it.


Is FF really secure or it is only safe beacuse nobody cares about a browser whose share is below 5% of the market? Many of IE's flaws arise from the fact that it is tightly integrated into OS itself.


It sounds like you're arguing that Mozilla has an unfair advantage because it isn't built into the OS. On the contrary, that sounds like a perfectly fair advantage to me, and one of the best reasons for switching. Personally, I don't want a browser that can script the entire operating system -- I want one that can browse web content.


Will FF keep up with fixing its holes once it becomes popular enough to get hackers' attention?


Well, looking at the open source track record, Apache and Linux seem to have done at least as well as their counterparts from Redmond. And don't try to tell me that it's because Apache doesn't have market share -- last I checked, they have more than IIS.


Andrew Norris

wanorris
2004-09-20 16:00:34
copycat:ing omniweb?
OmniWeb looks like it has a pretty nifty user interface -- good for them. I don't have a Mac, though, so I can't try it. On the other hand, they lifted their entire rendering engine from Safari , and worse, it seems to be about a year behind (http://daringfireball.net/2004/08/omniweb_5).


The Mozilla project has developed an awful lot of technology themselves, including a new set of cross-platform, scriptable user interface widgets and what is now probably the most advanced web content rendering engine available. By contrast, they're simply trying to adopt the best-of-breed user interface features that are out there, which seems perfectly sensible to me.


Tabbed browsing has been around for many years in browsers such as Opera, and popup blockers have been around for quite a while. I'm sure Mozilla didn't invent having a search box in the title bar, either. So the heck what?


Andrew Norris

skaggsy
2004-09-20 21:44:15
You're an idiot . . . if you still use IE.
Hey hey...no need to get personal or immature here....everything in life is a preference. However, have used Firefox - definitely an improvement over IE.
moko
2004-09-20 21:50:58
image managament
If you right click an image you do get an option to "Set As Wallpaper".
moko
2004-09-20 22:06:03
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Tabbed browsing? How did I live without it.


Ever surf the web anymore? Ever find stuff and think "that might be intersting, not what I was looking for but I'll open it up and take a look"? Ever ended up with 20, 30 windows open and no idea where anything was?
Well I have and what I do now is, if it's on topic I open it in a new tab. If it's off topic, I open in a new window. This keeps all my related stuff together, keeps me on topic without losing the other interesting stuff


Also, ever seen how much extra memory IE uses for each extra window?

kelleychambers
2004-09-21 08:49:53
Firefox Rocks!
I've been using Firefox for over a year now and love it! It's not buggy, doesn't have the security bugs like IE (and has always had!), and has google built right in.


Firefox is so solid, I've turned my entire office on to it not to mention all my friends and family...


Free couldn't be better!
moismoje
2004-09-21 11:43:18
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Tabbed browsing is the best thing since sliced bread. I can't tell you how much time it saves me when I'm doing research. I'll get to a page that has information that I need but has a ton of links that I may want/need to read. I simply middle click each of those links opening them in tabs leaving my current tab active and let them all load in the back ground. THen I can simply go accross the top and look at those link in the order I opened them.


It's also nice cause I can look through all those tabs and close them as needed and not worry about mistaking the next window as one I need to close and loosing my place were I was researching.


In IE it becomes a mess because I'd have 20+ windows that I intended to open not to mention the 30+ windows caused by the POP up's that IE didn't block for me.


Good bye IE...Hello FireFox!!!! Too bad you can't uninstall IE and totally be done with it.

lightthajoint00
2004-09-21 11:46:56
owns
foxfire own IE no popups or spam yay!!
djinn
2004-09-21 12:32:13
Firefox Rox
I have been using Firefox for a few months now, and on all my windows machines it is the dafault browser. I also like using it rather than its bloated cousin Mozilla for Linux as well. I am planning on getting a Mac soon and it will be the browser of choice for that platform as well. Thank you for writing somehting better than IE..
Tveon
2004-09-21 15:55:22
Firefox .10
Real men don't take backup, nor do they read manuals , release notes or EULAs. ;-)
Tveon
2004-09-21 15:58:26
copycat:ing omniweb?
Ow, I thought it was Opera they were copycating. But who cares? As long as its great software.
Good ideas shouldn't be patentet, but spread to the benefit of all mankin. :-)
martind
2004-09-21 17:33:00
copycat:ing omniweb?
No problem FireFox are welcome to all features, good software for everyone now. I only had a bit of a problem to understand the "level of excitement", so the answer to your question would be "nothing the heck what". ;)


I got a "best since sliced bread"-feeling. I guess that was what prompted me to post...


Martin




awesomecheese
2004-09-21 20:29:15
'Find as you type' got worse!
yeah, I hate when they do stuff like that. But, the feature still exists.


-Type about:config in the address bar
-type linksonly in the filter
-double click on one of those -- I think it's accessibillity.typeaheadfind.linksonly but I'm not sure -- so that the value is true
-restart firefox


hopefully this feature will be brought back into options so it can be accessed the easy way.

somebody@here.ws
2004-09-23 21:54:04
OK to use Email and how to ?
plz kindly mail me this article, thanks!
p01
2004-09-24 23:48:52
image managament
Simply install the CopyImage extension to get the missing features about images if they're not present by default in your version of FireFox. This extension weigh only 3Kb.


Oh! and when you're on Texturizer, install also the ImageZoomer extension. It weighs 12Kb and add a Zoom Image In / Zoom Image Out feature in your contextual menu. And the shortcuts are + and -, thus it's extremely pleasant to use.



As a side note, EXTENSIONS are a bless for every web developper. Have a look at EditCSS, UserAgentSwitcher, Diggler, LiveHTTPHeaders, ... and you'll never come back to IE. Well, except for adding CSS hacks for that buggy browser.

p01
2004-09-24 23:58:52
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
461Kb for the Google Toolbar ? 480Kb for the AllTheWeb Toolbar ?


Hum, you should have a look in the searchPlugins folder of FireFox, you'll see that adding a search engine weich less that 2Kb ( including the icon in PNG or GIF of course ). And there's


When you click on the icon of your SearchEngine in the SearchBar there's a drop down with all your engines and a link to install some others that send you to http://mycroft.mozdev.org/download.html, where 1269 search plugins sorted by category are waiting you.

p01
2004-09-25 00:10:43
How is Tabbed MDI, skins, built-in Google good?
Among those search plugins, there's not only some general web search engines, but also some dictionaries, thesaurus, translators, file sharing search engines, shopping search engines ... And if you don't find what you need, you can create your own search plugin in ~5 minutes.
Johnah
2004-09-25 04:15:32
OK to use Email and how to ?
What am I sending?
travelman26
2004-09-25 10:16:09
Organizing Bookmarks
I read the ho0p, and as a former journalist am not impressed with Firefox 1.0. My opinion is that all the wooping about it was nothing but hot air and Explorer bashing. Firefox has a long way to go to get me and my associates to choose it as our default browser. Chip and cheezee is the best I can say. By the way, where is the opening page and news, weather,CNET, This Day in History....should I continue?
Bannerup
2004-09-25 12:03:17
Fear of Installing an Unknown Browser
Presently using IE6, but several times in the last few years I've installed others, then watched in horror as the new browser messed everything up. Even installed Mozilla a few years ago, and immediatley removed it because it took my own website and turned it into what I can only describe as helter skelter.


But I'm open to giving this Firefox an honest try if somebody can give me at least a small bit of assurance that I can de-install it if it doesn't meet my expectations and won't destroy what I've got in IE now... thanks!

netview
2004-09-26 11:49:12
Firefox
netview
2004-09-26 12:01:54
Firefox 1.0
I was using Firefox 9.3 for a month or so and found it to be a great browser. It took a little getting use to, but after I dicovered all the productivity extension and learned the new lingo, I was hooked. I tried the newest release 1.0 and had difficult time with the installation. I belive you have to unistall 9.3 and remove the mozilla folder. C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Mozilla. Firefox went wacky for a while untill I uninstalled all versions and restarted my machine. I couldn't get it (release 1.0) to work as well as 9.3, so I re-install 9.3 and everything is great.
psphelan
2004-09-26 13:40:02
Firefox
I have used firefox and thunderbird for a few months and it is much quicker on my machine than IE6
A few sites wont allow me to use it and I have to revert to IE6 with all its pop ups


Thanks