Firefox 2.0 Beta 1: Looking at What's New

Get quick download links and check out our visual tour of the highlights.

It's a new day for Mozilla. Only a few days after OneStat reported that its Firefox Web browser has reached nearly 13% market share worldwide, the open-source software development organization this morning released Beta 1 of Firefox 2.0 With this release, Firefox devotees will be widely testing the next version of the browser.

According to scheduling documents linked to from the Mozilla site, the developers expect Beta 2 to arrive in about four weeks, followed by two or three release candidates during early September, and a possible final release of Firefox 2.0 on Sept. 26. Of course, all of these milestone dates are subject to change. But with the release of Beta 1, Firefox 2.0's final release is no longer a distant eventuality.

To test Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 for yourself, download the one in your preferred platform version and language at the Mozilla FTP site, or use these direct download links for U.S. English versions:

Be sure to uninstall any previous version of Firefox prior to installing this new beta. Firefox stores important user profile information, including your bookmarks, previously installed extensions, themes and plug-ins, and settings data. You may want to make a backup copy of your user profile. For more information, see backing up your profile on the Mozilla site. You should do this before installing Firefox 2.0 Beta 1.

New Features

Mozilla was forced to push off some of its more ambitious goals for Firefox 2.0 to Firefox 3.0. The list of what's new, as a result, is modest, and yet the changes are all welcome.

Firefox 2.0 adds built-in phishing protection. According to Mozilla documents, it warns users when they encounter suspected Web forgeries. Like Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, the Firefox antiphishing feature offers to switch the browser to a safe page (the user's home page). The phishing protection feature works by checking the currently loaded site against a list of known phishing sites that will be generated by user input and maintained by Mozilla. During Beta 1, the list of sites is limited, but Mozilla says it will grow as users contribute. For more information about the new phishing protection feature, see the Firefox 2 phishing protection FAQ.

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If you visit a site that Firefox 2.0 deems to be a phishing site, this warning pops-up. Clicking "Get me out of here" opens your home page.

Firefox adds a built-in RSS and XML feed-viewing capability, which works like the Feedview extension available for earlier versions of Firefox and a similar feature in IE7. The new functionality lets you click on an RSS or XML link to see headlines and descriptions of the items in feeds. A Subscribe Now button lets you save the feed URL.

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This new RSS and XML feed preview functionality creates a newspaperlike presentation of any RSS or XML feed link you click.

Even better, Firefox's simple but effective default feed dialog lets you choose which feed reader to save new feed subscriptions to. You can configure both feed-reading programs and Internet-based services in Firefox 2.0's simple "Choose a Feed Reader" dialog -- a well-implemented feature.

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The new Choose a Feed Reader dialog lets you configure Internet- or software-based feed readers. It also lets you select a default reader to which new feed subscriptions will be added.

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