I’ve been using Firefox 3 betas for a few months now, through the really rough times when bookmarking was totally broken, up until the present day (Firefox 3.0b4 – click for a short review). It’s really been an impressive transformation, and I think that it will mark a very nice evolution in the web. It’s faster, uses less memory, more standards complaint, and has some cool features. All and all, I think Firefox is giving the proprietary RIA technologies (Sliverlight, Flash, etc) a run for their (very large amounts of) money.
The coolest new feature (IMHO) of Firefox 3 is the so called “Awesome Bar” – the location bar got hooked up with baseball’s steroids dealers. The “Awesome Bar” is “the much improved location bar autocomplete that unlike Firefox 2 which only looked for web addresses in my history, this one looks on visited and bookmarked page titles and tags along with web addresses.” For example, oftentimes I think to myself, “a little while ago I saw a great page about performance… but I can’t remember the URL. How do I find it?” With the new location bar, I simply type “performance” and relevant results show up, and I can click on the one I want. I can’t tell you how many times this has helped me find things that I thought were long since lost to the vastness of the Web.
One final notable thing I’d like to comment on is the native look and feel improvements made in this version. Previously, Firefox had it’s own look and feel – it used it’s own colors and icons. Starting in 3, Firefox will look as close to a regular application as possible, so it will feel a lot more familiar, and feel much easier to learn, on Windows (both XP and Vista), Mac, and Linux. New users should feel like they are already familiar with the application, because it feels just like every other application, and power users will appreciate how it seamlessly blends with their environment.
Is Firefox 3 revolutionary? No. But it is evolutionary. By being faster, more standards compliant, and introducing some cool new features, Firefox 3 improves the user experience of probably the world’s most common computer based activity. Start the countdown to the release!