The beta version of the Mozilla Firefox 3.0 web browser is out now for you to try. Although more of an incremental upgrade than a revolution, Firefox 3.0 enjoys better security and bookmark management.

In the three years since version 1.0 was released, Firefox has, along with Opera, taken a large share of the PC browser market from Internet Explorer. Firefox provided a lean, stripped down browser that would respond quickly without excessive features – but which could be customised in a number of ways.

On first appearances, there appears to be little that has changed since the previous release in the beta of Firefox 3.0. Most changes have taken place behind the scenes, but some of these are quite substantial changes to how you will use Firefox. The biggest of which is Firefox Places, which stores all your history and bookmarks in one place.

This works as a SQL database, which should mean that there will be new ways to access and manage that information through Firefox 3.0 extensions. The second beta has also enhanced the location bar to better match pages from your history and bookmarks.

Other important changes include enhancements to security: you are now warned of phishing sites and forged pages, and Firefox 3.0 integrates with antivirus software and the Parental Controls in Vista. In some cases, this is simply playing catch-up with competitors in terms of improving online security, but disabling insecure plug-ins is a bonus.

Another change is the ability to zoom in on a whole page, not simply text. While Firefox 2.0 regularly restored tabs from a previous session if the browser closed unexpectedly, Firefox will now also restore any zoom settings that you have with individual pages. Finally, the Firefox 3.0 Download Manager now allows you to pause and resume downloads.

The second beta of Firefox 3.0 has made considerable performance improvements and it now loads pages extremely quickly. However, be prepared to have to update all your extensions if you move over to the new release.

NEXT PAGE: video review of Mozilla Firefox 3.0 beta 2, and our expert verdict > >

The latest Mozilla Firefox update is not yet bug free, so those looking for a solid browser would be wise to wait before downloading the newest beta.

We asked Mark Sullivan, associate editor of PC Advisor's US-based sister title PC World, to take a look at Firefox 3.0.

For an in-depth preview of Firefox 3.0 in action, click on the video below:

Mozilla Firefox 3.0 beta 2: Specs

  • 233MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon, 64MB RAM, Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 52MB hard disk space
  • 233MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon, 64MB RAM, Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 52MB hard disk space


The final version of Firefox should provide even more improvements to memory leaks and other areas of performance and, as a sleek, customisable browser this is still a very good application. Previous versions of Opera and Internet Explorer have done more in terms of interface design and security features, but Firefox is catching up.

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