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.
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.