New Firefox 2 beta released

Today the Mozilla Foundation released another milestone towards a final Firefox 2. This release candidate is more polished than the last beta download, and is mostly ready for general use. But if you use custom add-ons and themes - really, the best things about Firefox - it's a safe bet some of them won't yet be compatible.

If you're thinking of trying it, bear in mind that this version, codenamed "Bon Echo," will install over your previous version. Prior version 2 betas would install alongside old versions, but not this one. You'll still have your same bookmarks, themes and extensions, though again many of them may not be compatible.

The new download doesn't add any major new features compared to previous betas, but instead improves on what has already been added. There's built-in antiphishing that warns about known phishing sites, improved RSS handling, session saving, and major tab handling upgrades, among other things. Mozilla has a detailed list of what's new in their release notes.

When you click on an RSS feed icon next to the URL or on a Web page, you'll get a prompt for how you want to handle RSS feeds. Previously, you could only add the feed as a Live Bookmark, but you can now add it to Web site feed aggregators (like a My Yahoo page) or a standalone program.

Great idea, but it might still need a little work. Either that, or some of the feeds aren't formatted in a way that some reader choices can use. I got an error message when I tried to add a Mozilla Add-ons feed to My Yahoo.

I didn't have any problem with the session saving, once I chose the option on the Main options tab to "Show my windows and tabs from last time." I highly recommend using this feature, which will start Firefox with the same tabs you had open the last time you closed the program.

Particularly because one of my favorite extensions that used to give me that functionality, Tab Mix Plus, doesn't yet work with this release candidate. Neither does Forecastfox, Update Notifier, or a couple of others I use. Likewise, most of my themes went bust.

There are often in-development extensions you can grab that do work, and there are ways to tweak the extension files to trick Firefox into loading add-ons it doesn't think are compatible. But if you've got must-have addons, you might want to wait for the final version so extension authors have time to catch up. I'd expect it in a month or so, based on the version 1.5 timeline.

For me, my must-have Google Browser Sync, Noscript and Adblock Plus extensions all do work. As do StumbleUpon, IE View and Mouse Gestures. And I haven't yet found any major problems or bugs, so I'll likely be sticking with version 2 from here on out.

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Erik Larkin

PC World
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