On Friday, Charles Moore at Applelinks reviewed Firefox 3, beta 3 for Mac. While Safari has significant mindshare in Apple community, Firefox is the most dominant non-Microsoft browser with about 17 percent of the overall browser market. The latest beta was described as reaching maturity, and unlike beta 2, has a new, more Mac-like, look.
"About three weeks ago, I posted a mini-review of Firefox 3 beta 2, which Iive been using for over a month now, and have found much about to like," Mr. Moore wrote. "Itis very fast, and has for me been very reliable with minimal beta bugginess noted. Frankly, notwithstanding Mozillais disclaimers that the version 3 betas are for developer evaluation only, I havenit encountered any reason not to use the version 3 browser for regular, workaday browsing. It works better for me than the latest Firefox 2 final."
Mr. Moore noted that one has to love Mozillais update method. When the current version detects a new version, it downloads it in the background. When the user checks for a new version, the update is almost instantaneous. Also notable is that fact that Firefox 3 beta 2 has the same look as Firefox 2, and that made Mr. Moore somewhat indifferent to the product. However, the latest version has a new look.
"Consequently, perhaps the most exciting news for me about version 3 beta 3 is that Firefox finally gets a decent-looking user interface. Better than decent actually; itis quite attractive with a more native Mac OS X look, with smaller buttons and more compact tabs," Mr. Moore observed.
Also, Firefox has a new feature, Mr. Mooreis new favorite, such that the program asks the user if the tabs should be saved when quitting.
In typical fashion, Mr. Moore puts the new beta through its paces in considerable detail. There is much emphasis on the security improvements as well. The noted reviewer mentioned that Firefox 3 is based on Mozillais Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, in development for 29 months, and has had 11,000 fixes made.
While a few remaining bugs were found, Mr. Mooreis overall evaluation was very positive: "No release date has been announced for the Firefox 3 final, and one more beta is expected before that happens. In the meantime, beta 3 is a pretty decent ride, and I would not think of going back to version 2."
For those who might like to try it, Firefox 3 beta 3 reqires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and is free. Version 2 users should note that version 3 will likely break any plug-ins used with version 2.