Firefox 3: the good, the bad, and the memory usage

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Mozilla’s Firefox 3 Beta 1 is now available for download if you hadn’t already heard.

I took it for a quick spin and found that, on the surface, it’s not a whole lot different than Firefox 2. There are some nice little improvements under the hood here and there but it’s probably not going to be worth using as your everyday browser until it’s been officially released.

The Good

It downloaded and installed ridiculously fast. I initially thought that my download had been truncated and that feeling was engorged when the program installed in well under ten seconds. It was legit, though. It worked as planned.

It imported everything from Firefox 2 and scanned all my extensions to see if any of them would work. None would. It then checked all my extensions for updates, which was a nice touch and didn’t take much time at all. No updates = no extensions for me. Oh well.

There’s also a cool new bookmarking feature that works similar to a Google Bookmarks Firefox extension wherein you click a star in the address bar once to bookmark the site, then again to tag it if you’d like to organize it beyond just saving it. And the new Places folder behaves kind of like a beefed-up history folder. It tracks the pages you visit most often, previously-visited pages, recently bookmarked pages, and the like.

The new use of the Gecko rendering engine is nice and makes zooming in and out of pages look cleaner. There’s also a slightly revamped download manager and support for Vista’s parental controls and a bunch of other security updates and fixes.

The Bad

Not so much bad here except for the elephant that’s been in the room for quite some time now. That’s right, memory usage is still off the charts. I was running at well over 100MB in no time. I’m not sure if this problem is going to get fixed before the final release but it’d make a world of difference.

None of my extensions worked either, but that’s not a huge surprise considering that it’s still in beta. The program started up, hummed along, and shut down pretty quickly but I have to wonder how much of that is due to the lack of having any extensions running.

Overall

It’s good. That’s about it. Download it and try it out if you like, it uninstalls as fast as it installs so there’s no harm in trying. I’m nothing without my extensions so I won’t be using Firefox 3 until most of them are compatible. For straight-up browsing, though, it’s nice. I have no qualms. It’ll be an easy decision to update once everything is ready.

Firefox 3 Beta 1 web browser [Firefox]

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