After over 8 million downloads last Tuesday, it’s safe to say that the Mozilla Foundation has given birth to a happy baby boy browser with Firefox 3. Was it worth the wait? I’d have to say that after playing with it for over week, I’m sitting firmly on the fence. Here’s my take.
Speed. That’s the number one advantage to Firefox 3 for me. The browser seems much faster overall, as in my (very) informal tests, Firefox 3 loads pages significantly faster than Firefox 2. 3rd party add-ons like the Web Developer toolbar, are more responsive as well. Viewing a page’s CSS with the toolbar’s “View CSS” feature used to take up to ten seconds in Firefox 2. In Firefox 3, it’s close to instant. Of course Firefox 3 broke several of my add-ons, but I expected that.
I also like the new interface overall, though I have my complaints listed below. It looks a bit more utilitarian, and at first glance it feels like it gels with Leopard, like it belongs. The chrome of the browser seems pretty tight and softer visually, bringing less competition to the page you’re browsing (even though many of us tune out the shell of the browser these days). And I love the large back button.
The Not So Good
I’m really turned off by the curved tabs to the left of the address bar and search – especially given the fact that many favicons have white backgrounds. A favicon with a white background ruins the effect for me (I have with IE7 as well, for the record).
And while I like the the interface, I feel that it’s wayyyy too close to Safari, who of course does the sexy dark gray the best. Firefox 2 had a playful charm that set it apart from Safari and Internet Explorer. It just looks like Firefox 3 made an attempt to grow up. And as some have noted, the Firefox team attempted to copy some OSX form controls and in some instances they didn’t do the greatest job. It undermines the experience for me just enough to notice.
Overall, I’m fairly luke warm on Firefox 3. I love the browser as a whole, but the upgrade hasn’t exactly blown my socks off. But what do you think loyal TAB readers? Has the upgrade been worth it for you? Sound off in the comments.