Was it really fewer than five years ago that Firefox 1.0 debuted? Its arrival ended the dismal period in which only one browserâ€“Microsoftâ€™s mediocre Internet Explorerâ€“seemed to be viable. With Firefox, Mozilla proved that millions of people were itching to adopt a better browser. And today, we find ourselves with multiple better browsers: Not just Firefox, but also Googleâ€™s minimalist Chrome, Appleâ€™s flashy Safari, the ever-inventive Opera, the highly social Flock, and even the no-longer-calcifying Internet Explorer 8.
All of which means that Firefox 3.5â€“which Mozilla plans to formally release todayâ€“is no longer a shoo-in for the distinction of being the favorite browser of browser fans. (As I write, Firefox 3.5 hasnâ€™t replaced 3.0 yet on the Firefox home page, but the Windows and Mac versions are live on Mozillaâ€™s FTP site.)
After having spent months with various pre-release versions of 3.5, though, Iâ€™m convinced that The Little Browser That Could remains the best choice for the widest array of folks. Thatâ€™s as much for the virtues that Firefox has possessed for years as for new stuff: Version 3.5â€² s improvements are about better speed, useful tweaks to existing features, catchup with other browsers, and early support for emerging Web standards. In other words, the browser sports no knockout new features. But the moves Mozilla has made are smart, and theyâ€™re more than enough for Firefox to keep pace with its fast-evolving rivals.
After the jump, a look at whatâ€™s new in rough order of importance.
[This post is excerpted with Harry’s permission from his Technologizer blog.]