By Harry McCracken | Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm
Today, Mozilla released Firefox 3.6, a new version of the world’s most popular alternative browser. (Come to think of it, though, the concept of “alternative browser” is stale–for one thing, on many sites, including Technologizer, Firefox is the most popular browser.)
(At the moment, I use Firefox maybe 25 percent of the time–but I’m more likely to use Chrome on Windows, and Safari on OS X.)
Other improvements in 3.6 include the integration of Personas, a nice one-click system for applying skins to the browser; a new plug-in system that detects outdated plug-ins and helps you install updated versions, and improved form autocomplete features.
There’s also stuff that–for now–is mostly of interest to developers and those who love bleeding-edge Web technologies, including enhancements to HTML5 video and embedded fonts. But while Mozilla says that Firefox has the world’s best support for HTML5, that boast is only true on a theoretical level: Both YouTube and Vimeo have started offering HTML5 video in the past 24 hours, but their players don’t work in Firefox, because it only supports video in Ogg Vorbis Theora format, and they only provide video in H.264 format. (Which means that HTML5 video won’t mean a whole heck of a lot for most people until all browser makers and video sites agree on a standard.)
For now, Firefox users need to seek out 3.6 and install it; Mozilla told me that at some point, earlier versions of the browser will ask you if you’d like to get it. It’s a major enough upgrade that past versions won’t auto-install it without your explicit permission.
Should you get Firefox 3.6? Yes, if you’re a Firefox fan–once you’ve verified that your favorite plug-ins are available for it. And if you’re an ex-Firefox user who’s drifted off to another browser over speed or stability issues, it’s also worth a look. If you take it for a spin, I’d love to know what you think. You don’t need a download link, but here it is just in case.