Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 Is No Slam-Dunk

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2006-07-12 Print this article Print

Review: eWEEK Labs' tests show that Version 2.0 of the browser will be a worthy upgrade, but competitors—including Internet Explorer 7—are inching ahead.

The war of the browsers continues with a series of beta skirmishes, as Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 enters the fray. Maybe we should call this the prequel for the next battle for browser supremacy—"Browser Wars: Attack of the Betas."

The latest volley in this not-quite-ready-for-prime-time conflict comes from the Mozilla Foundation, which released the first public beta of its next-generation Web browser on July 12.

eWEEK Labs' tests show that Beta 1 of the open-source Firefox 2.0 includes some welcome new features, catches up a bit with capabilities found in other Web browsers and adds some nice security enhancements.

However, while Firefox 2.0 is shaping up to be a good upgrade to Version 1.5 of the popular Web browser, it doesn't look like it will be the slam-dunk over the forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 that Firefox 1.5 has been to the current IE 6.x.

For that matter, unless Firefox 2.0 and IE 7 improve greatly before their respective releases later in 2006, neither will come close to topping the quality of the already shipping Opera 9.

Click here to read more about why the Opera 9 browser is music to eWEEK Labs' ears.

One clear advantage that Firefox will always have over Internet Explorer, though, is that it runs on multiple platforms, including older versions of Windows. IE 7, in contrast, won't run on anything other than Windows XP SP 2 or newer operating systems. In our tests, the Firefox 2.0 beta ran well and identically on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

A welcome new feature in the Firefox 2.0 beta is an integrated spell-checker, which will be especially useful when entering content in Web-based forms and fields. In other browsers, this functionality can be added through plug-ins and add-ons, but we liked the smooth integration of the spell-checking function in Firefox 2.0.

Also well-implemented is the anti-phishing warning feature, which launched a very obvious pop-up when we surfed to a potentially malicious Web site. This isn't a new capability—both Opera 9 and the IE 7 betas we've looked at have anti-phishing features—but we liked the prominent way that Firefox 2.0 flags phishing sites (identified through an updated list that the browser downloads regularly).

Firefox's search features have also been beefed up: When we began entering a word in the integrated search box, Firefox 2.0 displayed a drop-down list of suggested search terms. Search engine management also has been improved, and new search engines can be added from a list (although we couldn't add many search engines that we could in Opera 9).

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 Is No Slam-Dunk

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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