Firefox 5 - Well, Almost

Mozilla Firefox version 5 is on the horizon, reflected by the recent changes in the browser implemented in Firefox Beta Version 9.0. The newest release of Firefox sports a slimmed down user interface that reflects the recent trend towards tabbed browsing ala Google Chrome. It seems that all the major browsers have followed suit in adopting a similar interface... so much for forward thinking and creativity. I guess this proves the evolutionary hypothesis that form follows function. However, this doesn't really change the crucial function of Firefox, mainly browsing the internet.

Firefox Beta 9.0 has made some changes to it's engine that help to enhance its browsing capabilities. Quoted from the Mozilla Blog, "Firefox 4 Beta now includes a streamlined Firefox Sync setup, making it easier to bring Awesome bar history, bookmarks, open tabs and passwords across your computers and smartphones. Based on your feedback, we've made it much easier to setup Firefox Sync while still securing your Firefox data with the same high-grade encryption." The Firefox Sync setup does work well, and is pretty simple to use. Like other major password services such as LassPass, Sxipper, RoboForms, etc. it creates a copy stored on a server so that you can sync your data to whatever system you are currently using. It works well but I still prefer the more robust features of LastPass which works with any browser and easily creates multiple login profiles for the same website. I actually prefer Sxipper but alas it is not compatible with Firefox Beta 9. This brings me to one of the big drawbacks to Beta 9, plugin and extension compatibility is not at all guaranteed.

Another feature added to the Beta 9 engine is its redesigned graphic capabilities. Mozilla opted to integrate the WebGL standard, supported by many modern graphics cards, in an effort to make it easier for designers to create games and web applications for Firefox, without the need to download a plugin. For those that don't know WebGL is a 3D standard that supports accelerated graphics. This will help Firefox to put some zip into some of those graphic intensive game and video sites. The Firefox Blog purports, "Combined with our previous work to bring open HTML5 technologies for animation, video, and sound to the Web, developers can now create amazing experiences that are rendered directly in the browser, combining themselves with live data from the Internet." For controlling tabs Firefox Beta 9.0 has added a feature known as Panorama. This feature allows you to switch to a page on which all of a users open tabs are displayed together, using the panorama button or by pressing CTRL + SPACE. Using this feature you can visually see your tabs and even reorganize, group or expand tabs at will.

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