See the Firefox 2 Alpha 1 slide showFollowing the successful launch of Firefox 1.5 last November, the Mozilla organization has released Firefox 2 Alpha 1, code-named Bon Echo. At first blush, the differences between Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2 are not dramatic. But spend a little time with the browser, and you'll notice subtle enhancements, such as little Xs that close specific browsing tabs and a more contemporary look and feel that depends on the operating system it's running on (Windows XP, Mac OS X, or Linux). Mozilla anticipates releasing the final code for Firefox 2 by the end of the year, in time to go head-on with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7. One caveat: Your current Firefox extensions will probably break with this new build, so only the technically adventurous should proceed. Here are some of the cool new features that stood out while testing this first iteration, and we look at features expected in later builds of Firefox 2.
Like the Favorites side panel within Internet Explorer, Places is a new side panel within Firefox 2 that allows you to control your bookmarks, RSS subscriptions, and browser history in one convenient space.
A new History drop-down menu has been added to the toolbar alongside File, Edit, View. And deeper in the interface, Mozilla has added a new MozStorage system, which lets you execute a search query of your browser history to find pages you may have visited long ago. This feature is based on research that shows that 39 percent of all Google searches were attempts to return to pages previously visited. While both Internet Explorer and Firefox currently allow you to search your browser history files, the new MozStorage system was designed from the ground up as a powerful search engine.
Like Microsoft, Mozilla wants to eliminate the ugly XML page that sometimes shows up when you try to subscribe to or view an RSS page. Mozilla also wants to streamline the subscription process (currently, you must add RSS feeds as a live bookmark in Firefox 1.5). In Firefox 2, as soon as you click a page's RSS icon, the feeds are added to a toolbar, and drop-down menus display the latest choices and the option to open all current feeds in individual tabs.
Session restore and antiphishing technology
According to Mozilla's road map, future builds of Firefox 2 will include a feature that, in the event of a system or browser crash, will restore all open tabs on your next restart. Also, Firefox plans to incorporate some form of antiphishing technology, perhaps the one already created by Google. At present, Google makes an antiphishing extension for Firefox; this extension could become part of future code for Firefox 2.