Firefox 2.0 beta – the highlights

A first Beta version of Firefox 2.0, called Bon Echo, is now available. (download for Mac or PC) The 2.0 Alpha had been available since March. Firefox 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004. Will 2.0 be a world-changer? There are some nice new features and if the memory and stability issues have been improved at all then there will be parties in the streets.

Recent numbers indicate that Firefox has attained 16% market share among web browsers. It’s secure, extensible and open source. It’s also been unstable and an obnoxious memory leak. Have these problems been solved in 2.0? I’ve seen little discussion on this, but this beta feels better so far than the 1.5 I have been using.

Highlights include:

  • The ability to re-open tabs you’ve closed and tab recovery when the browser crashes – that’s one way to deal with instability!
  • Automatic spell checking – very nice! Humorously, it doesn’t recognize its own name by default. “Firefox” gets underlined in red and suggested spellings are “Fire box” or “Fire fox.”
  • Google Suggest and a similar auto-complete type function from Yahoo! are available in the search bar.
  • My favorite: Clicking the orange RSS icon in the browser bar can now subscribe you to that page’s feed in Bloglines, MyYahoo or the Google readers. Or you can select a desktop app like NetNewsWire. That’s fantastic; quick subscription from inside FF to NNW.

I haven’t seen a lot of problems yet, but I’m not a big Firefox extension user. Many extensions that worked with previous versions are not working with 2.0. General consensus is that the Firefox Nightly Tester Tools is the easiest solution.

So far 2.0 looks solid. I think it’s a keeper.