Mozilla Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 – First Impressions

Mozilla released Beta 1 of Firefox 3.0 a few days ago, so I thought it was about time I tried out the latest and greatest from the guys at Mozilla. Grab it here if you haven’t yet, but be warned, it’s only meant for testing, and shouldn’t be used if you require a stable browser.

I’ve been running it at work since yesterday afternoon, and upgraded my laptop at home last night. First impressions are good…

Resource Usage Improvements

The memory footprint has reduced immensely. Before upgrading, I had over 200 tabs open in Firefox 2.0 using around 1100MB of RAM. After upgrading to 3.0 Beta 1, the memory footprint has shrunk by half to just over 600MB. It’s important to note that these figures are after a day’s worth of usage, opening/closing tabs throughout the day, on both 2.0 and 3.0 Beta 1. My experience appears to match with Adrian Kingsley-Hughes’ over at ZDNet.

Firefox’s giant memory footprint was one of my biggest bugbears, and it seems as though 3.0 is making a step in the right direction. This is excellent progress.

CPU usage is down, too. In Firefox 2.0, running 200 tabs used around 45% CPU on a Dual Core. After upgrading to 3.0 Beta 1 CPU usage is running at roughly 15%.

General Impressions

Overall, the browser seems snappier – particularly when moving between tabs. I also like the flashy “whizzy” thing it does when moving between distant tabs. Very “Compiz“.

The new, unobtrusive, Remember Password widget is also a welcome addition. It lets you get on, without interrupting your work flow, allowing you to set your preference in your own time.

firefox-3-remember-password.png

The Address/Location Bar now searches through your history and bookmarks; not just on URL, but also on page titles. So for example, you can type in “USB” into the location bar, and it’ll show you a list of results. I have mixed feelings about this, as I quite liked just typing in the start of an address, and choosing from a descending list of most frequently viewed sites that match the start of what I’m typing. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

firefox-3-address-bar-search.png

3.0 also adds a Quick Bookmark button next to the Address Bar. This differs to Ctrl + D as it allows you to edit the Bookmark name and add tags. Again, I’m not entirely sold on it’s usefulness, but perhaps in time I’ll find myself using it :)

firefox-3-quick-bookmark.png

Conclusion

Overall, I’m impressed. The extra little features are nice to have, but the most important improvements, for me, are in 3.0’s reduced memory and CPU footprint. I certainly don’t think I’ll be re-installing Firefox 2.0 anytime soon :)

Over to you

Have you tried Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 yet? What are your impressions of it?

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