Firefox 2.0 - Worth Upgrading Yet?

by Aaron Wright Nov 01, 2006

A few weeks back Microsoft released the full version of Internet Explorer 7.0 for Windows users, but the real news lies in the release of Firefox 2.0 which made it’s debut only a few days ago. As with any new release, it’s always best to keep an open mind before deciding whether or not to upgrade, so I’m going to take a little look at why you should upgrade to Firefox 2.0, but perhaps not just yet.

The New Features

Phishing Protection

The most talked about feature now built into FF2 is the phishing protection, something that Internet Explorer 7.0 had boasted about for a while. For those new to computers, the internet or those who have absolutely no idea why you’re now able to go fishing with your browser, let me clear things up.

Phising is a type of internet crime whereby someone, somewhere, attempts to fool you into giving them your details, usually along the line of passwords and credit card details. Now you may sit there and think “who would be stupid enough to fall for that?”, but the reality is that unless you’re completely clued up with how the internet works, a simple web-page that looks and feels like your internet banking website can very easily be a phishing website. I’ve personally had two e-mails from banks I’m not actually with attempt to tell me my account is soon to be out of date and that I need to follow the link within the message to update these – and of course, it means I need to input my credit card details to “confirm” I’m really me. The easy way to avoid these is stay smart – don’t ever click on a link in an e-mail that asks you for passwords or credit card details.

But of course, not everyone is clued up with the net, so Firefox 2.0 does its part in giving you a helping hand by simply staying in touch with a local and online data-base of known phishing websites, and will then warn you when you hop along to a dodgy website. Great news!

Better Searching

Upon first using Firefox 2.0, the first thing I noticed was the much improved search capability. Using the built in search bar at the top right of FF, you’ll soon notice a list of possible search terms popping up based on the letters you’ve tapped in. For example; if I type in “apple” a list of suggestions will pop up along the lines of “apple ipod”, “apple computer”, “apple uk” (it’s localized) and so on. For some bizarre reason AppleMatters isn’t on the list – I’m sure our dear Chief Editor will get in touch with the guys at Firefox as soon as!

In all seriousness though, this is a great feature that I’ve already used plenty of times. It’s made even better by the fact that it doesn’t force you to use search items, so you won’t find it slowing you down at all.

Inline Spell Checking

You’ve no idea how much I personally missed this feature when I switched from Safari RSS to Firefox 1.5 earlier this year – I didn’t realize I relied upon it so much, not that my spelling is usually that bad, but it’s always nice to have a reassurance, right? Although you’ll need to visit the Firefox webpage to download the correct language plug-in (right click in a Web Form and hit ‘Add Dictionaries’), the rest is pretty much straight forward. The moment you begin typing in a web form the Inline Spell Checker kicks into action, and much like Microsoft Word, the moment you misspell a word a lovely red squiggle will appear underneath informing you to sort it out. Peace at last!

Resuming Your Last Session

Ever stumbled upon a webpage that, for some reason, butchered your pleasant little experience by crashing your browser? I know I have and there’s nothing more annoying than to have it happen when there’s about 5 or 6 different web pages open, so it’s of course refreshing to see this feature built in. The next time Firefox crashes (I’ll get onto that shortly) you’ll notice your session is completely restored the next time you restart. This is also super handy when installing an extension or theme.

Improved Tabs

Along with other visual alterations, Firefox 2.0 now offers a much better tabbed experience, especially when it comes to closing them. For a long time Safari RSS was the king of tabbed browsing as you could easily close tabs without actually having to activate them. Firefox 1.5 required you to open that tab, and then close, which was a bit of a nuisance. However, Firefox 2.0 has finally caught up and each tab can now be closed without needing to open it. Certainly aids in a faster browsing experience.

There’s a load of other features now available, including Preview and subscribe to Web feeds, having a much better Extensions Manager, Live Titles and an upgraded JavaScript engine. The ones above are really the main ones that will be noticeable within your browsing experience, but to check out the rest visit the Firefox homepage at

So, worth it?

Whilst the features on offer are seriously needed in every browser, it could be a wise idea to hold off upgrading for a few weeks, if not a month. As Firefox 2.0 is still very new, you should expect to see a few hiccups. Sure, Beta testers are used to remove all the bugs, but it’s not going to be possible to find every single one – so long as the security of the browser is up to scratch then we’re safe. During my experience of using Firefox 2.0 on my 2.0Ghz G5 iMac running 1GB of memory, I’ve found it crash on a daily basis and it’s usually when viewing videos or some sort of interaction with a website. It’s not too serious a problem as it’s not a regular occurrence, although I suppose that depends on what you call regular. This and any other issues that crop up among the mainstream will no doubt be reported and fixed within the next couple of weeks – so expect another update shortly.

Of course, along with stability issues, you may find that a lot of extensions you used in Firefox 1.5 will fail to work in Firefox 2.0. Fortunately most of the popular extensions have already been upgraded, but a couple of themes I had installed didn’t work correctly, prompting me to find an alternative. To some this isn’t a big deal but there are many out there who rely on Firefox add-ons to make their browser super powerful.

If you take your online security seriously, I’d suggest waiting for a couple more weeks to see if another update appears – I’m almost certain one would appear as well. I don’t think the risk of seeing your browser crash during an online transaction when purchasing something is really worth the risk.

Still, give it a look over and see what you think by checking out Let us know what you think below.




  • Unable to close the “current” window using javascript.

    The following used to work prior to version 2 of FireFox.

    var ua = navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase();
        var isFirefox = (ua.indexOf(‘firefox/’) != -1);
        if (isFirefox) {’‘,‘_parent’,’‘); } window.close();

    Richard Beacroft had this to say on Dec 05, 2006 Posts: 1
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