Firefox 2.0 hits the Web

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) - Following on the heels of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla has released version 2.0 of its web browser. The software was released unofficially on Monday, a few days short of the browser's second birthday and a download count that is closing in on 250 million.

See a preview of the new features in Firefox 2.0 ...

Within two years, Mozilla was able to change the public's perception of the web browser. What had become a boring and extremely vulnerable software category that entered the times of so called blended Internet threats, including phishing attacks, the organization sparked new excitement and innovation. Even Microsoft, which stated shortly after the release that it did not consider Firefox as a threat, sat down and recently released what is without doubt the most compelling browser package since the release of version 4.0 of the Internet Explorer.

Firefox 2.0 brings a range of improvements over version 1.5, which are a sign that browser has grown up into a mature product that can look beyond its current 10% or so market share. The development team has kept the general appeal of the interface, but has fine-tuned many features that are visible to the user. For example, tabs are easier to manage: By default, Firefox now opens links in new tabs instead of new windows, and each tab carries a 'close tab' button. There is also a history menu that keeps a list of recently closed tabs, and a shortcut lets users quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.

Additionally, the search field now suggests search terms, complete browsing sessions can be resumed, there are more ways to configure web feeds, a spell checker for online forms and live titles for web pages.

The perhaps most significant change is under the hood. Firefox 2 now comes with a built-in anti-phishing feature that warns users of websites that are suspected to imitate another one with the purpose to extract critical information. The feature can take a user to a search page to find the real Web site a user may be looking for. Other new features invisible to the user include support for Javascript 1.7.

Firefox 2.0 is scheduled to be officially released Tuesday afternoon. Version 1.0 was introduced on 9 November, 2004 and achieved 10 million downloads within one month after launch. Almost two years later, the counter now stands at just under 233 million.