Firefox 2.0 Beta Ready for the Brave

Mozilla Corp. has officially rolled out the first beta release of Firefox 2.0, the free Web browser application which has been challenging the market dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Firefox originally spun off of the monolithic Netscape/Mozilla browser projects as a stripped-down, just-the-basics Web browser with a focus on functionality and security; it has gained popularity among Windows users as security holes and exploits are more-or-less continually found in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Firefox 2.0 aims to add key features and behavior without bloating.

The folks at Mozilla are emphatic that the beta 1 release is not suitable for everyday Web users; Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 should be installed only by developers, testers, and the technically-savvy who have a legitimate need to be test-driving the forthcoming release.

Key features in Firefox 2.0 are Phishing Protection (which continually checks visited pages against lists of known phishing sites), an inline spell checker, improvements to tabbed browsing (like being able to re-open closed tabs), a plug-in manager, automatic restoration of browsing sessions after a crash, and improvements to previewing and monitoring Web feeds.

The Firefox 2.0 development schedule is running a little behind, but the original plan was for Firefox 2.0 to be complete by August 2006; in real-world terms, the release version will probably see the light of day in September or October. Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 is available in a variety of languages for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.