On June 17, Mozilla Foundation released the long-awaited Firefox 3.0. The new version makes Firefox better than ever and arguably the best browser available.
Another thing that formerly bothered me pertains to Firefox itself: Previous versions contained significant memory leaks. That's a big problem for those of us who keep numerous tabs open over long periods of time. To give you an example, I've run Firefox 2.x on a system with 2GB of RAM and had very little if anything else running on the desktop. Over a period of several days I might wind up having well over a dozen tabs open constantly. When I checked memory usage it wasn't unusual to see Firefox using 1GB of RAM or more! Fortunately Mozilla says that they've fixed "hundreds of memory leaks" in Firefox 3.0.
Mozilla also integrated a new "garbage collector" called XPCOM Cycle Collector, which helps release memory when it is no longer needed by various components. Third-party developers must integrate a bit of code into their modules for them to participate in garbage collection. For details on that process see the URL below.
Aside from better performance and hopefully better memory usage, there are of course a number of significant security improvements. First there's a new site information window that pops up when you click the site name in the location bar. The window can display which site you're really connected to and whether the connection is encrypted using SSL. There's also new malware protection that gives the user a stern warning if they land on a known malware distribution site.
As you know, third-party plug-ins are a mainstay of Firefox and can be used to add untold amounts of very useful functionality. Like previous versions, Firefox 3.0 automatically checks to see if your plug-ins are up to date and can automatically install new versions; however, Firefox 3.0 will automatically disable plug-ins that are not delivered in a secure manner.
Other security improvements include antivirus software integration, parental controls, and better handling of cookies. And as is usually the case, there are numerous other non-security improvements that you'll probably enjoy.
For those of you seeking help in handling enterprise rollouts of Firefox, be sure to read my article "Enterprise Rollout and Management of Firefox," at the first URL below. To get an overview of other features in Firefox 3.0, read Paul Thurrott's article at the second URL below and Percy Cabello's review at the third URL below.
Finally, keep in mind that some sites do render differently in Firefox 3.0. To determine how your sites look in Firefox 3.0 (as well as 72 other Web browsers!) go to the URL below, where you'll find one of the most useful Web development tools available on the Internet today. The site can grab screen shots of any site using any of the supported browsers, so you get a direct look at your site that will immediately reveal any rendering problems.