Firefox 3.5: Big Gains May Be in the Future

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on June 30, 2009

After a long beta test, Mozilla today released Firefox 3.5 for windows, Mac, and Linux. Though the new version has some nice features, it’s potential may only be revealed over time.

FirefoxThe latest edition of Firefox offers a considerable boost in speed, especially in running JavaScript programs. I don’t do any formal testing, but it is definitely much faster that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (which is not saying all that much) on Windows, and seems roughly on a par with Google’s Chrome 2.0 and Apple’s Safari 4.0.

Firefox 3.5 also offers new privacy features that catch up with and then exceed rival browsers. Private Browsing (more commonly known as "porn mode" for obvious reasons) lets you browse without leaving any trail of your wanderings in your history, cookies or elsewhere. But Firefox makes privacy retroactive: A "Forget this Site" option erases all trace of the site you have just visited. A "Clear Recent History" lets you erase your activities over the last one, two, or four hours.

More interesting for the future is Firefox's compliance with the new HTML 5.0 standard. This doesn't mean much today, because almost no Web sites implement 5.0 features, but the new HTML standard gives Web designers some attractive choices. On is to use the Ogg-theora standard for streaming video directly to the browser with no plug-ins or players required. Another is the ability to download fonts, which will assure that pages appear in a browser just the way designers intended. Currently, the only way to do this is to create a PDF file and then rely on an Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in (or Preview on a Mac) to render it correctly.

Reader Comments

Robert Edelbert

June 30, 2009 3:27 PM

Good to see this improvement.

Bob Dobolina

July 1, 2009 2:59 AM

It's definitely faster. But it has a few annoying bugs that are really starting to get on my nerves, including the tendency to spontaneously switch to Offline mode, and the newly added "feature" where closing the last open tab results in shutting down the browser. Never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I'm considering dumping Firefox for another browser. Not the best update they've ever released.

cyb-3

July 1, 2009 9:08 AM

"porn mode" :) ha haaaaaaaa LoL

F

Tim Flynn

July 1, 2009 9:28 PM

Just a heads up I did the upgrade and turns out 3.5 is not supported by Norton 360 identity Safe. Back to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 until its fixed.

Terry

July 2, 2009 2:26 PM

>> losing the last open tab results in shutting down the browser.

Not with my copy, downloaded yesterday.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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