I downloaded a copy to try it out. As always on the Mac, install was the extremely straightforward drag and drop.
On launching, Firefox checked my extensions and disabled almost all of them (except Adblock – phew!). It then checked for updates to my extensions (found none) and promptly crashed!
Not very confidence inspiring.
I launched it again and this time it stayed running!
According to the launch notes, this version of Firefox 2 Beta 1 is supposed to have:
- Built in Phishing Protection
- Search suggestions now appear with search history in the search box for Google, Yahoo! and Answers.com
- Changes to tabbed browsing behavior
- Ability to re-open accidentally closed tabs
- Better support for previewing and subscribing to web feeds
- Inline spell checking in text boxes
- Search plugin manager for removing and re-ordering search engines
- New microsummaries feature for bookmarks
- Automatic restoration of your browsing session if there is a crash
- New combined and improved Add-Ons manager for extensions and themes
- New Windows installer based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
- Support for client-side session and persistent storage
- Extended search plugin format
- Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions
- Support for SVG text using svg:textPath
Amongst my favourite features in this list are the the ability to re-open an accidentally closed tab and the built-in spell check. The ability to re-open tabs is accessible by right-clicking on any tab or by choosing the Recently Closed Tabs command under the History menu.
The built-in spell check means I now have no excuse for all the mis-spellings in my blog posts!
As well as checking words, you can add words to the dictionary so they won’t be flagged as mis-spellings in future and in time it will be possible to change the language away from the default US-English. If you attempt to change languages currently it tells you that this command hasn’t been hooked up yet but that alternative dictionaries can be downloaded from the Thunderbird Localised Dictionaries site. While these dictionaries can indeed be downloaded, they are not available for selection after being installed, even after a re-start. More work needs to be done here I think.
Overall, the beta version seems to perform quite well despite the few glitches mentioned above. It even seems marginally faster than Firefox 1.5 but this could simply be because most of the extensions are disabled!