Firefox Preview Release 1.0 full review

Firefox has quickly become not just a great alternative browser to Internet Explorer but also a strong competitor for Apple’s Safari: it’s even faster in rendering heavy Web pages, and is also stable and standards-compliant. It even uses the core Mozilla browser code found in Safari.

Firefox also offers some longed-for features such as RSS and spyware protection – and it’s cross-platform and free. I don’t even see the point in comparing it with Internet Explorer – as using that now seems like wading through molasses, while browsing with Firefox really does feel like driving a Porsche on the open road.

The latest version features improvements in bookmarks, security (with an easy-to-use set tools), an additional FastFind, and a master-password option.

The browser offers many of the same useful features as Safari such as pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and built-in Google searching. It’s also highly customizable: if you don’t want Google as your search engine, you can easily install another.

One annoyance I have that Firefox doesn’t address is sites that mess with your window set-up. For example, windows sometimes open without the address bar, or suddenly spring open to fill the screen. A preference to prevent that sort of thing would be most welcome.

Firefox includes all the general features such as history, bookmarks and text zooming. You can import preferences and bookmarks from Netscape or Opera, too – but not from Safari, a curious omission. The Firefox bookmark manager is easy to use, and allows searching.

You can set-up Firefox to automatically check for updates – although when I tested this, it stalled twice. I found no other reports of this error on the support forums, however. Firefox also offers links to a variety of downloadable Extensions and Themes for customizing its look and tools. The company says it is developing an auto-update feature to check for new versions of themes.

For a Web developer, Firefox provides a built-in JavaScript and CSS error-warning console plus a document inspector. This will come in handy when testing multiple Web-site-version builds.

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