Firefox 3 – First Impressions

Today was the first day Firefox 3, and I downloaded to find out what all the fuss is about. This new release is of particular interest to me because I have been monitoring the browser market share for a while now, and I want to get a feeling on whether this release will likely increase the market share for Firefox versus IE.

Below are my reactions after initial usage:

As you type in the address bar, a list of all sites you’ve recently visited and match what you have typed in appears in a drop-down list. This is very convenient, as I can then just scroll down and select the URL that I want to go to.

You can click on the favicon for a website to get more detailed information on the site, including the cookies it is dropping on your computer, and any password information you may have saved for this site. Under the Media tab, you can also view all the images on the site separately. Under the General tab, you can view meta tag information, content encoding, page size. And if the site is using WordPress, what version of WordPress is used.

Bookmark management is also better. Now you can tag the web page you are saving. Also, when you enter “Organize Bookmark” mode (Firefox 3 calls this the “Library”), it is easy to get additional information on each page you have saved, such as last visit time and site description. Those were improvements, especially compared to IE. You can organize by folder or by tag.

On the page, you can zoom in or zoom out. You can also select “No Style”, which will cause Firefox 3 to render only the HTML portion of the site. This is handy for Webmasters in testing their website.

It’s interesting to note that the existing version of the Google Toolbar was not compatible with Firefox 3, while the existing version of the Yahoo Toolbar was. Updating add-on’s was very easy.

Other new improvements I have heard include better page loading time and better security, but I did not check out those claims.

Overall, I can’t really find any negatives. Adding the social bookmarking feature is certainly a good idea, and there was no case where things were moved around just for the sake of moving around (unlikely Microsoft Office 2007, where horizontal icon list becomes vertical and vertical icon list becomes horizontal, while offering no real functionality enhancement). The future appears bright for Firefox 3, and based on the current trajectory, I wouldn’t be surprised if Firefox catches IE in market share in the not-to-distant future.