Firefox 2.0 About to Ship – Here's What's Happening

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Mozilla offered up Firefox 2.0 Release Candidate 3 tonight, bringing the official launch of version 2.0 all the closer. Most TechCrunch readers have probably tried previous release candidates but there are a number of things readers may be interested in considering as full scale roll-out of the new version approaches.

2.0 is several months late and doesn’t offer a whole lot of new features compared to version 1.5 – but performance enhancements and a built in spell checker alone make it a good improvement.

There aren’t any new features added since the previous Release Candidate, in fact features have been frozen since the release of Beta version 1 in July. We reviewed those new features at the Beta’s launch, but the highlights include an automatic spell checker for text typed into almost any field, automatic restoration of tabs that were open in the event of a crash, anti-phishing protection and a snazzy new default look. See also our previous posts on the development of Firefox 2.0 since the Alpha release in March.

Extensions

Many extensions won’t work with Firefox 2.0 but Windows users can use the unofficial Nightly Tester Tools to force Firefox to believe most extensions are compatible and use them. The Mac side of my computer doesn’t want to use this, but it works great in Windows. I stopped using previous Firefox Beta versions specifically because I couldn’t run the AttentionTrust Recorder with them, but that organization says they will offer a version compatible with Firefox 2.0 when the browser ships. I hope they and other services do so as soon as possible.

Memory Leak

One of the most common complaints about Firefox is that it leaks memory and slows down computers over time. Some people say this is a function of the browser’s caching, others blame it on faulty extentions. There doesn’t appear to be any substantial changes made in regards to memory in the new version of Firefox.

When is the Final Version Due?

There was some discussion today about tonight’s release being the final version of Firefox 2.0 – barring significant bugs being found. In reality, all Release Candidates are intended as final releases and though RC 1 was made available on Sept. 26th and RC 2 on Oct. 6th – Mozilla intended the one and only Release Candidate to come online in August. At this point only small bugs are left to fix and the pace of RC releases indicates that a version will be made final soon. Probably before IE 7 rolls out automatically to Windows users.

The Future

Wishing that 2.0 had more interesting new features or responded to concerns that it has not? Check out Mozilla’s brainstorming page for Firefox 3.0, code named Gran Paradiso. 3.0 is scheduled for release in Q1 of 2007, at which time Firefox 1.5 will reach end-of-life.

Opera lovers are outspoken about their favorite browser, users seeking lots of social features often prefer Flock, and there is a lot to talk about in regards to the new Internet Explorer 7 that will install automatically very soon (unless you block it) but Firefox has long been the browser of choice for between 60% and 70% of TechCrunch readers. Presuming extension compatibility can be taken care of, Firefox 2.0 should be a subtle but definite change for the better.

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