The third, and probably last, release candidate of Mozilla Firefox 1.5 has been released. If all goes well, this might actually become the final release of 1.5. As such this release contains only major bug fixes which were deemed critical before the final release.
All the features of 1.5 are present, including: automated updating (with small patches as updates), faster browser navigation (back/forward), clear private data, many security enhancement and more.
The celebration of Firefox' 1.0, 1 year anniversary is over, all the Opera-only content is restored. Still at this point we must think clearly on what has changed. Not only did Firefox gain a market share of more than 8% globally (rough guess on most statistics sites), but more importantly, this year Opera got free. It can't be denied it had something to do with Firefox' success.
So, last week I switched from Opera 9 Preview 1 (yes unstable, but hey, you gotta live on the edge) to Mozilla Firefox 1.5 RC1 & 2 for web browsing and Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5 RC1 for e-mail usage. Although they are great products (you have heared this sentence probably a thousand times), there are issues, or rather dislikes that I cannot overcome, and which makes Opera my present choice, even after the new flagships from Mozilla.
Thunderbird for e-mail
Let's start with the easy part. Thunderbird. I dislike it, mostly due several UI issues, and the lack of being an integrated part of my web browser. First, you get confused, as the SMTP part of the program allows you to use one default SMTP server for all, which gets weird when you have several accounts like me and have to manually set the per account later on. The icons of the interface of Thunderbird for Windows are different than on the Mac, instead this is like the ancient theme used for Firefox, called Qute. As some may know, I dislike it. It's unprofessional as it has uses several perspectives and styles (curves and straight lines). Also the menus in Thunderbird, whether the main application or a new message window, they are huge. Huge means, difficult to navigate and memorize. Oh yeah, in my use-field, or business-field, I often await for mail constantly, and I also browse the entire day for (developer) resources. With two applications open (Firefox and Thunderbird), and twice GRE loaded (the rendering engine both for the User Interface as well as your rich-text format (RTF) mails). So except for the space in my Windows startbar, yeah, I don't want the but load of memory usage going to two distinct apps which in fact should share the same resources. Last but not least, I like the whole idea of Opera Mail (M2) filters, and marking messages as read. This allows me to better process all incoming mail to filters, labels, and read items. Ok, so there is no RTF mail composing (you can still read), but I guess the whole idea of e-mail was to replace snail-mail... hmm, and yes I detest those who mail me with all kinds of colors and fonts in just one e-mail message >:|
Firefox for the web
Ok, so we're back at Firefox 1.5 now. The glowing new version, destined to replace 1.0. It has been over a year now, so we might expect some new features, and so it has! Firefox 1.5 comes with a faster cache system for the back and forward navigation, a new options window, a better way to delete private information, an update system and more. The update system is way better than Opera, not only does it notify you with a dialog, but the patches are binary differences based. This means maintenance releases will be small updates, of several hundred KB. Rather than replacing an existing file, it's being patches, to become like the newer version. Opera's update system notifies, and makes you download the whole thing again, of 3 to 4 MB. Well the faster back and forward navigation isn't *that* fast. It's faster than before, but certainly not on par with Opera's speed. But I guess, speed is something Opera can truely use as a pro argument. Firefox is still slow in response, if you work a lot with it, the XUL UI, the absence of all the Opera shortcuts (yeah, try going one page back, without moving your mouse or using two hands on the keyboard) and the download speed are personal proof. The new options window still has the same UI problem with tabs as before (the weird horizontal line, making it ugly stand out from real XP themes). Furthermore it's nothing much than doing horizontal what was vertical with the navigation buttons. The tabs section is nice, but Firefox' implementation does not allow new windows to open in a new tabs (full sized) along with pop-ups (small sized), thus stretching everything. Also, try navigating between the tabs, without opening them. Deleting private information, well, we've already seen that a long time in Opera, the implementation in Firefox is nothing special. Standard issues still remain for me. Yup I save a lot of images (don't ask what *kind* of), and I don't want them all to be listed in my download window. The password manager didn't import my 1.0 passwords, and also there are several websites where it refuses to save the login data (it never asks).
Opera features vs. Firefox features
So overall Firefox is nice, due to its extensions, but Opera, with no extensions and default features are often more thought out anyway. Stuff that make me use Opera, and that Firefox with extensions cannot improve? Faster in every way (startup, UI responsiveness, downloading sites), less security issues, shortcuts for both keys and mouse, better pop-up blocking (a status comes up, stating it has blocked it), more advanced preferences (even opera:config is better than about:config), integrated mail and RSS, a better UI (nicer icons, fully detailed progressbar (so no more guessing), wand (remembers all), transfer window (no images listed), and so much more!
Even this was even a short review, I hope it makes some sense, as I tried to make it as personal as possible this time (afterall it's still a blog). Anyway, have lots of browsing fun ^_^
The second release candidate of Mozilla Firefox 1.5 is out, sporting several improvements in the automated update system since RC1. From yesterday's experience (yes, those who test Firefox get the build a little earlier) the automated update system works like a charm. A simple notification and a restart was all there was to it, and it's small, just 390 KB.
Enjoy testing the second release candidate! For those who do not test software, the final version is almost near, so you don't have to wait too long ;)
Opera Software announced that Opera Mini is now available in Germany, allowing those with Java running mobile phones to browse the full internet. After Scandinavia, Germany is the first to follow suit in offering the free Opera Mini browser.
Read the full press release on how to acquire Opera Mini in Germany.
One year ago a change happened on the web, Mozilla Firefox 1.0 was officially released and took the world by storm. No other browser had been able to substantially take back a part of the web browser market after Internet Explorer won the browser war from Netscape. However as we now see, Firefox usage has grown beyond expectation. According to sources, like OneStat, the market share is in some regions more than 10%.
One year, and seven maintenance and security releases further, we are on the edge of Firefox' 1.5 release, which will further polish their web browser in functionality. With the recent support from Google and the continuing popularity, Firefox is looking towards a bright future.
In honor of the one year official Firefox release for end users, a graphical advertisiment which we saw several months ago =)
The commercial entity of the Mozilla Foundation has kicked off the Extend Firefox competition in an attempt to encourage developers to create Firefox extensions, little add-ons that offer functionality or other nifty features, for the 1.5 release (which is available as a release candidate).
Developers of extensions aren't doing the work for nothing, not only do users get the benefits from their work, but they can also win some great prices offered by the Mozilla Corporations and its partners, like AlienWare for an uber Gaming rig.
CNN.com has started an article (thanks Haavard) on how the choice of a web browser is influencing the user. With the uprising of Firefox usage, and the freely available Opera the market of web browsing changed from the silent empty landscape to a warzone again. Internet Explorer is and feels like an ancient machine, and thus Microsoft must improve its war machine, known as IE 7. So the choice of web browsers, if you use it or not, is affecting all of us.
PS: Remember to vote for Opera!
The Mozilla Foundation has released the first official release candidate of the upcoming Firefox 1.5 release. Compared with the previous betas, this release contains mainly bug fixes to polish the product up for release. Those who still use Firefox 1.0 will notice some big changes, including: automated update (including extensions) with smaller patch sizes, faster browser navigation (by more aggressive cache rendered pages), drag and drop reordering of tabs, improved pop-up blocking (including plug-in triggered), clear private data, new options window, better accessibility, report broken site feature, improved and newly added support of web standards and security improvements.
Congratulations to the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Community with reaching a new milestone of one hundred million downloads, even before Mozilla Firefox 1.5 sees the daylight. May the downloads propser even further, and keep the web open.