A new version of the Firefox Internet browser, out this month, will have improvements in security, speed and design.
Many of the enhancements in Firefox 3 involve bookmarks. The new version lets Internet surfers add keywords, or tags, to sort bookmarks by topic. A new “Places” feature lets users quickly access websites they recently bookmarked or tagged and pages they visit frequently but haven’t bookmarked.
There is also a new star button for easily adding websites to your bookmark list — similar to what is already available on Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer 7 browser.
Other new features include the ability to resume downloads midway if the connection is interrupted and an updated password manager that doesn’t disrupt the login process.
In a nod to the growing use of Internet-based email, the browser can be set to launch Yahoo Inc.’s service when clicking a “mailto” link in a Web page, the ones you might come across clicking on a name or a “contact us” link. Previously, such links could only open a stand-alone, desktop email program.
Yahoo is the only Internet service initially supported. To use rivals such as Google Inc.’s Gmail and Microsoft Corp.’s Hotmail, developers of those services will have to enable that capability first.
Firefox will also start blocking, rather than simply warning about, websites known to engage in “phishing” scams that try to trick users into revealing passwords and other sensitive information. The new version adds protection from websites known to distribute viruses and other malicious software.
The list of suspicious websites comes from Google Inc. and StopBadware.org, a project headed by legal scholars at Harvard and Oxford universities.
Security researchers who need access to problem websites can manually turn the feature off.
Firefox 3 also offers speed and design improvements—the back button is now larger than the forward button, for instance, because people tend to return to a previous page more often, says Mike Schroepfer, the project’s vice-president of engineering.
Firefox is the No. 2 Internet browser behind Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer. It comes from Mozilla, an open-source community in which thousands of people, mostly volunteers, collectively develop free products.
Mozilla has been developing Firefox 3 for nearly three years, and has been publicly testing it since November for Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
Its supporters organized launch parties around the world this month, and Mozilla is hoping to set a world record for most software downloads in a 24-hour period. Microsoft is currently testing Internet Explorer 8, while Opera Software ASA released Opera 9.5 on 12 June.
To download Firefox 3: www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox
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