Ramblings on Small Business Technology

FireFox 3 (or What’s The Best Browser, Part 3)

This week, the latest version of the FireFox web browser was released to much hype and fanfare.  Ignoring the hype, it’s still a major accomplishment.  I’ve been using it for almost a week now and I can tell you that I’m impressed by the increase in rendering speed and overall performance.

FireFox is another Open Source development effort (part of mozilla.org).  Interestingly, the very first web browser (Mosaic) was also open source.  It eventually was reincarnated as Netscape Navigator, the first widely available and used browser.  After Microsoft effectively killed off Netscape, the mozilla project was reborn from the proverbial ashes, and thankfully lives again.

I switched to FireFox when I got frustrated with Internet Explorer 6, which is arguably one of the worst browsers ever.  When IE7 came out (it’s amazing what a little competition will do to Microsoft), it was a significant improvement, but it still lacked the standards compliance and extensions model of FF2.  And there was a lot of standards non-compliance to get rid of.  Having been bitten by the DHTML/CSS web standards bug several years ago, most everything I develop is developed to current web standards.  I am continually amazed about how many things render differently in IE7 and more standards-accurate browsers (like FF), and consequently how much time I waste trying to make everything work correctly in both browsers.  But FF2 had its problems too – It had a significant memory leak and would slow down if left open for multiple days.

After 2+ years, FireFox 3 is here.  It’s significantly faster that its predecessor (GMail is almost tolerable in FF3) and hasn’t lost any of the rendering compliance of FF2.  What’s more, I found myself checking the extensions catalog for compatibility to see if my favorites had been upgraded to support FF3 before I pulled the trigger on the upgrade.  I wasn’t going to upgrade to FF3 without AdBlock or the Web Development toolbar!  Extensions are a big part of the overall FireFox allure.

Like I said earlier, it’s amazing what a little competition can do.  Microsoft has announced they are working on Internet Explorer 8.  While I’m sure they will ram it down everyone’s throat (through Windows Update), they better get busy – there’s a lot of ground to make up to catch the current leader!

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