Was it really fewer than five years ago that Firefox 1.0 debuted? Its arrival ended the dismal period in which only one browser–Microsoft’s mediocre Internet Explorer–seemed to be viable. With Firefox, Mozilla proved that millions of people were itching to adopt a better browser. And today, we find ourselves with multiple better browsers: Not just Firefox, but also Google’s minimalist Chrome, Apple’s flashy Safari, the ever-inventive Opera, the highly social Flock, and even the no-longer-calcifying Internet Explorer 8.
All of which means that Firefox 3.5–which Mozilla plans to formally release today–is no longer a shoo-in for the distinction of being the favorite browser of browser fans. (As I write, Firefox 3.5 hasn’t replaced 3.0 yet on the Firefox home page, but the Windows and Mac versions are live on Mozilla’s FTP site.)
After having spent months with various pre-release versions of 3.5, though, I’m convinced that The Little Browser That Could remains the best choice for the widest array of folks. That’s as much for the virtues that Firefox has possessed for years as for new stuff: Version 3.5′ s improvements are about better speed, useful tweaks to existing features, catchup with other browsers, and early support for emerging Web standards. In other words, the browser sports no knockout new features. But the moves Mozilla has made are smart, and they’re more than enough for Firefox to keep pace with its fast-evolving rivals.
After thr jump, a look at what’s new in rough order of importance. Continue Reading →