Mozilla Ships Firefox 2.0 ... It's a Dud

Today, Mozilla will officially unveil Firefox 2.0, the latest version of its Web browser and, increasingly, a credible challenger to Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). Unfortunately, some of Firefox's more trend-setting features have been delayed to a later release, and the new release suffers as a result. What's left is pretty unimpressive.

Disclaimer: I've been a Firefox user and advocate for a long time--so long, in fact, that I used the browser when it was still called by its Phoenix code name. Although I'll likely provide a longer review on the SuperSite for Windows in the days ahead, I think it's relevant to supply a few first impressions here.

I don't like it. The new Firefox "visual refresh" replaces the previously clean Firefox UI with muddy and vague-looking icons. So, one of the first things I did was download a theme that returned the old Firefox 1.5 look and feel. The built-in phishing protection is truly third-rate. There are two antiphishing options: Mozilla's weak blacklist-based protection (yes, seriously) and Google's antiphishing technology, which is both poorly rated and a privacy nightmare. The new Options dialog box is a miasma of choices, some of which are hidden in embedded tab controls. It's ugly, confusing, and illogical.

Firefox doesn't offer many truly neat features. It does include improved tabbed-browsing functionality and puts a Close Tab button on each tab. The browser features inline spell checking, handy for blogging, and a session restore feature that helps users recover from browser or system crashes. The new Add-ons Manager is simple and effective. But honestly, that's about it.

Firefox 2.0 is free, but it's a woefully minor improvement over Firefox 1.5 that suffers from various incompatibility problems, especially with themes and other add-ons. I wouldn't recommend this new version, to be honest. I'll be sticking with Firefox 1.5 at least for now. I recommend you do the same, or switch to the surprisingly solid IE 7.0.

Although Mozilla hasn't yet changed its Web site to reflect the new release, you can find the final version in the company's FTP site. The US English version is available at
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/

TAGS: Windows 8
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