Firefox 3 Released Today and Heading for World Record

Jun 17, 2008

A world record attempt has been launched today: starting at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the new Firefox 3 browser became available for downloading. And that's not all: the makers of Firefox are seeking to make their way into the Guinness Book of Records.

They hope to achieve a record breaking number of downloads within 24 hours. To verify the results, an independent Guinness jury will be evaluating the project's logfiles. The results of the attempt to top the current Guinness Book of Records entry will be available in about one week from now. A download countdown is available from "mozillafirefox" on Twitter, and you can follow the current status of the attempt in realtime on the same site.

Apart from the world record attempt, is it really worthwhile moving to the new Firefox? A quick glance at the release notes for the last release candidate shows that the browser now uses the new 1.9 version of the Gecko Rendering Engine, adding performance and stability. Thanks to some 15,00 changes to the engine in the last three years, the browser is now said to be more secure and easier to maintain.

Just like Opera 9.5, Firefox 3 now includes malware protection. The browser will alert you, if you surf to a site known for installing viruses, trojans and worms on users' machines. At the same time, the favicon shows who a site belongs to, if the connection is safe from eavesdropping, and if the site operator's identity can be verified. The new Firefox also warns users if they visit known Phishing sites. If Firefox detects an invalid SSL certificate, it issues a clearer warning, and it provides improved protection against cross-site scripting attacks and data disclosure.

Add-ons are easier to install than ever before. The download manager can stop downloads and continue at a later time; at the same time, the manager displays the name of the website sending the download. Users can press keyboard shortcuts to zoom in on websites, scaling up the text and/or images. Firefox stores this setting for future visits to the same site. Podcasts and videocasts can be mapped to the program you view them with. Another practical feature is that users can now select multiple parts of a text at the same time. Finally the browser also integrates seamlessly with the native GTK theme on Gnome. A Webcast also shows users how to customize Firefox 3. Bookmarks are easily indexed to simplify finding them in future. And users can more easily find sites they visited previously.

If you believe the analysts, the future belongs to Web applications that rely entirely on the browser. Although there is no way of knowing if this is true, Firefox 3 at least accelerates loading of this kind of application on screen by rendering Javascript more quickyl. Google Mail and Zoho Office are said to be three times as fast as on Firefox 2. In the Acid Test, which tests browsers for Web standards conformity, Firefox 3 Beta 5 (71 out of 100 points) performed far better than Firefox 2.0.0.14 (53 out of 100).

The memory footprint, that is the application's memory consumption, is also smaller say the developers. A good thing, too, as Firefox 2 proved to be a memory hog in many scenarios, making it difficult to run the browser on less powerful machines. Additionally, the developers say they have repaired "hundreds of memory leaks”.

The new Firefox will probably be available on this website later today. For more information on the record breaking attempt, go to the Download Day Info Page on Spreadfirefox.com.

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