As promised, wanted to post my initial thoughts after having used Firefox 2.0 for about a week.

First a bit of a backdrop – I have been absolutely enamoured by the Firefox browser for more than 2 years now. I very rarely use Internet Explorer – and the only times I actually use it – are times when I am forced to use it for enterprise reasons.

So I downloaded Firefox 2.0 about a week ago. Download was a snap – about 5 megs and took about 2 minutes on my Sprint aircard in a non-EVDO location. That’s a big deal for non – broadband userset. Two minutes on a Rx1TT is pretty good for a full fledged browser.

Installation was a snap as usual. Beautifully elegant. Since 2.0 is still a pre-release version, not all the skins that veteran Firefox users have come to love work on it. The installer checks to see and informs you if the installed skins actually would work on the new version. Then, it actually goes to mozilla.com to check to see if compatible updates are available. Like I said, very elegant. At the time of writing, none of my five skins worked on 2.0. But the updates should be forthcoming. And there is a setting on Firefox that would inform you once the compatible versions become available!

Now coming to the browser itself. I never really used the default look on earlier versions so I cant really comment on the UI experience. Looks similar to me apart from a few things. One, now each tab has its own “Close Icon” — which is useful because I would earlier often close the wrong tabs – because there would be only one Close icon – and it would close the current tab.

Hyperlinks now glow when “moused-over” – attractive. Per documentation, by default, clicking on a link opens a new tab as opposed to a new browser instance. Sensible. Things we have come to love from Firefox – like the inbuilt search field with multiple search engines as a part of the browser ( as opposed to a toolbar) are still there.

One note – my Crtl-T shortcut had stopped working on my laptop (and a few others I know) on the earlier version after an enterprise backup tool was remotely installed on all our laptops. However, with the new version its back up!

Other than that – the other big change – its got an inbuilt spell checker for web forms. So any web form you fill is automatically spell checked! Very cool if you ever use web mail – automatically checks spellings. ( not to say I would ever require that). Facetiousness aside, I love this feature. User documentation also states that there is an in-built anti-phishing tool.

Lastly, and probably most impressively, at a time of badly written, badly tested and prematurely released commercial software, Firefox 2.0 is absolutely rock solid. And its still beta. It hasnt crashed on me even once. At the same time, IE crashed about 3 times on me – and Windows XP Professional twice.

All in all, absolutely love it. Worth the upgrade.

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