Five reasons you should switch to Firefox 3

The best and most comprehensive way to customize your browsing experience

No matter what browser you use -- whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox 2, or any other -- you need to switch to Firefox 3. The most recent beta shows off a browser that's the best yet for customized browsing, better downloading, and faster surfing. I've got five reasons why you should switch.

1. The new Page Info tab

This is the best new feature of Firefox 3, and one of the niftiest browser tools of all time. To get to it, when you're at a site, click the favicon at the left of the Address Bar, and from the pop-up that appears, click More Information. A tabbed dialog box appears, shown below, that lets you get security information about the site, see all the media on the page, get general information, and view and subscribe to any feeds on the page. Best of all, you can customize how you browse the site from now on, including whether to block or open pop-ups, whether to block cookies, load images from the page, and so on. It's the best and most comprehensive way to customize your browsing experience.

2. The new Download Manager

Firefox 3 includes a comprehensive download manager built directly into it --- no more searching in vain through your hard disk for files you downloaded. It keeps a list of all files you downloaded, including from where you downloaded them, and lets you search through it. You can open up not just the file itself, but the folder which contains it. There's a useful status bar for when you're downloading. And it integrates directly with your virus scanner, so that you'll see the virus-scanning take place right within the Download Manager.

3. Fewer memory leaks

Mozilla claims that it's plugged hundreds of memory leaks, and taken other steps to reduce memory use, including collecting and releasing unused memory, and reducing memory fragmentation. It also says caching strategies have been tuned. I haven't run tests, but I can say that I've been running the browser for well over 24 hours, and it hasn't suffered from memory bloat.

4. Better security

Firefox 3 will warn you when you're visiting a page known to harbor malware, viruses, and Trojans. It also disables old, insecure versions of plug-ins. And the Page Info feature, which I've written about above, gives you security information about the Web site you're visiting.

5. It's prettier-looking

Firefox has entered the modern age, with a chiseled, 3D look -- you won't feel as if you're using a 1999 browser anymore. It will also reflect the personality of whatever operating system you're currently running.

For a more comprehensive look at Firefox, check out my review First Look: Firefox 3 beta 4. And for a heard-to-head comparison with IE8 beta, see my blog Battle of the betas: Firefox 3 beats IE8.

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Preston Gralla

Computerworld
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