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Firefox 3 Web Browser


 

Firefox 3: How Playing Nice With Others is Paying Off For Web Users

By: Elizabeth Ann West

Today's users of the Internet demand more: more features, more security, and more accessibility. Users can have it all with Firefox 3, the latest release from open source Mozilla. Firefox 3 is not just another update, it is a brand new approach to the best of web browsing. Firefox 3 integrates well with various operating systems, websites, and existing applications on a user's computer to make web browsing even better.

The development of Firefox 3 was a global project, nearly 2 years from start to release. A key standard for Firefox 3 is integration with all major operating systems. This is achieved with the layout engine Gecko 1.9, which uses a base of C++, and works with Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris systems. Firefox 3 doesn't only work with different operating systems; the web browser adjusts display, settings, and utilizes the unique features of each operating system.

Features

Mozilla's Firefox is on the cutting edge of Internet browsing due to its community programming culture. With open source code, anyone from a programmer within Mozilla's company to a 16 year-old in their bedroom can write a new feature for their own Firefox browser. The best of these Add-Ons are checked by Mozilla and made available to the larger community of Firefox users. Open source does not mean someone from the outside can access your browser without permission. Instead, this community style of programming has yielded a vast Add-On library of thousands.

Add-Ons are additional codecs and applications that "plug-in" to Firefox. Firefox 3 offers an Add-On Manager, where users can view information, ratings, and pictures of Add-Ons, and install them with one click.  Add-Ons cover everything from language support, additional dictionaries, and even easy linking to social web 2.0 sites like Myspace or Facebook. Whatever it is you do the most of on the web, chances are there is an Add-On out there to make it easier!

Other new features of Firefox 3 reduce the frustration that can come with web browsing. Accidentally close Firefox 3? Session Restore will give you the option to re-open Firefox 3 displaying the exact same websites as when the application closed. Can't read the fine print or see the picture clearly? A new Zoom feature let's users enjoy all websites, even on the smallest of screens. Is your Internet connection not quite up to the highly graphical interface of some websites? Simply turn off Image Loading, and enjoy the speedy load of text only.

Security

Great features lose value if a web browser lacks security. Firefox 3 takes security to new heights with specific Anti-Malware and Anti-Phishing applications. Mozilla uses a database to instantly determine if a website is legitimate. This will stop many of the personal information phishing scams from website posing as popular banking sites. The database also notifies a user when a website is known to attach spyware or malware to downloads. The warning screen is a full sized maroon red explanation, with the option for users to continue to "get me out of here!"

Firefox 3 is not a Malware Removal program though. The warning system of Firefox 3 is an extra layer of protection for users, but savvy web browsers will still employ an anti-spyware program like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Malwarebytes has free malware removal) to remove any dangerous software that gets through. Firefox 3 also includes a Download Manager that works hand in hand with anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Firefox 3 will tell your preferred anti-virus software to scan downloads as they come in.

Additional security is found by lifting the veil of anonymity in website ownership. We've all seen the cute little icons in our tabs started by Microsoft Internet Explorer called favicons. Mozilla's functionality to favicons with Firefox 3. Users can click on the favicon and view the owner of the website, the address, and see the number of visits to website the user has made. This information will help users protect themselves from fake impostors and potentially harmful sites.

Most websites now require some type of login and password for access to advanced features. Users wishing to keep this information can "remember" passwords with a click, and view the passwords and log in information stored with Password Manager? Don't want to remember your data? Clear Private Data is available with a click or press of a button to remove all the personal information stored in cookies and elsewhere.

Accessibility

Firefox 3 offers great advances in features and accessibility, but making both of these accessible to users is where Firefox really excels. Control over the look of Firefox is now within grasp with the introduction of themes. Depending on your operating systems, Firefox's basic appearance will mold to fit right in.

Let's not forget the primary objective of a web browser: surfing websites! Firefox 3 has a few tricks up its sleeve to make browsing more accessible. First, a Library automatically stores all of the websites you visit. From the Library you can organize folders and search for that one website you liked but just can't remember the address.

Moving even further away from those long web addresses, user can assign Tags to websites. For example, a Tag of "computer help" can be used for websites such as filetonic.com, support.microsoft.com. Later, a user can just type "computer help" into the search bar and both websites will pop as results. Users can assign multiple to tags to one website. With Firefox 3, your web browser is your own personal search engine of your favorites.

If finding a specific website isn't your problem, perhaps you're tired of using a separate email application as default when a web mail application is the regular email client. Now, when you click to email through a website, Firefox 3 won't automatically opening the default email program for the computer. Users may select a default web mail application such as Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo mail for Firefox 3 to use as the default email apparatus.

Overall, Firefox 3 is a great web browser for the money ... FREE! By taking the time to integrate with other aspects of the computer, such as operating system, websites, and third-party applications, Mozilla's Firefox 3 is a success. Hopefully, with more users adopting Firefox as their default web browser, the mantra of cross compatibility will continue to spread. New features, improved security, and accessible controls over the browsing experience makes Firefox 3 a tough competitor for other web browsers to contend with. With over 8 million downloads in the first day of release, perhaps more software developers will write programs that adopt the childhood rule and "play nice with others."



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