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 I’ve personally had two e-mails from banks I’m not actually with attempt to tell me my account is soon to be out of date and that I need to follow the link within the message to update these – and of course, it means I need to input my credit card details to “confirm” I’m really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.




  • I’ve been running Firefox 2.0 for close to a week or two now and I’ve yet to see any real problem with it. It works… magnificently.
    I’ve been through Safari, which was my bread and butter, Camino (A novelty), Shirra, Firefox 1.0, Opera and even occasionally used IE through Classic just for fun and Firefox 2.0 is the first browser to pull me away from Safari.
    I love it.

    Dudeguy had this to say on Nov 01, 2006 Posts: 20
  • I haven’t experience any problems since upgrading either.  I love all the new features and the only extensions that don’t work are the ones now built-in.

    I do have one issue, however.  On the Mac version (and oddly, not the PC version), my browser has a blank bar right below the navigation bar that does nothing but take up real estate on my screen.  Any ideas now to get rid of it?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 01, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • The thing that impresses me about Firefox 2 is the startup time. It’s now instant (on my iMac). FF1.5 was too slow.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Nevermind about the blank bar issue.  It’s the bookmark toolbar and I found out how to turn it off.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Camino, a novelty? How so?

    Gordon had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 1
  • That session restoring really annoys me when I use Firefox on a Windows machine (I rarely use it on my Mac).  I have a habit of just logging out instead of closing Firefox and then logging out and Firefox thinks it’s crashed instead of just been closed.

    One thing that I have noticed on the Mac that annoys me is that when I try to CMD+W to close a window it doesn’t work.  It just “closes” a blank tab and leaves the window open.  Apparently you have to press CMD+Opt+W to close a window.  That gets on my nerves.

    Of course, I have been known to nit-pick.

    Jeffala had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I have to say that I find the raving about the tabs in Firefox 2 a bit puzzling, especially among those who have used Safari—or even anyone who used Tab Mix Plus with Firefox 1.5. Both of those just seem to work without needing to think.

    My main beef is with closing tabs and windows. The way Safari handles it makes sense. If there are multiple tabs open, CMD-W closes the tab you’re in. If you only have only window open, CMD-W closes the window. It makes sense and is intuitive. But Firefox makes a distinction between the two cases. Not that having a command to close a window is bad—if you have multiple tabs open and want the whole thing closed, it’s good to be able to hit one key combination. But if there is only one tab, why would I want to just close the tab but leave the window there? This is especially annoying in sites where new items/links appear in new windows.

    But perhaps I too am just being nit-picky?

    Squib had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 1
  • FF2 still seems to be a memory hog on both Mac and PC. Not much improved there from FF1.5. I still have to hear gripes of memory leakage, though.

    Nonetheless, I like the tab & searching improvements. I am still weary as to tying my phishing hook to a third party like Google. What is their actual intention? Place ads on those websites’ pages eventually when it catches on? I smell something…

    As for IE7, the visual improvements are nice and clean. ActiveX supposedly OFF by default so we’ll see about the hacks later. Opening new tabs is a great feature with the empty “dog-eared” tab-let? MS may have something planned for IE8 someday with this clean, minimalist design of IE7.

    Robomac had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 846
  • That session restoring really annoys me when I use Firefox on a Windows machine

    Um, have you tried…let’s see…turning that off?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Perhaps instead of using sarcasm, you could helpfully tell Jeffala “Use [this menu] to turn that preference off.” How does the sarcasm contribute anything useful to the conversation?

    One thing that may also cause this behavior on Windows vs the Mac is the way Windows tells programs to close when you shutdown or log off.

    On the Mac, the OS sends a standard quit message to the open application(s). So if you are using Dreamweaver, for instance, with multiple tabs open, Dreamweaver will correctly save your workspace and later re-open with the documents you were last working on as if you quit normally.

    Windows, on the other hand, does not do this. If you shutdown/logoff without quitting Dreamweaver first, Dreamweaver doesn’t save its window state(s) and none of your tabs will re-open when you start Dreamweaver later (as it does if you just quit). I believe Windows kills the process, instead of sending a quit message, so the application is unable to close gracefully.

    This always irritated me when I would switch between platforms while developing (Windows at work; Mac at home). If I had 10 PHP files open when I shut down in Windows (and forgot to quit first) with Dreamweaver, I’d lose my current work space.

    This is probably the reason Firefox restarts in “recovery mode” with the its tabs/windows open. Windows kills Firefox, instead of letting it quit itself gracefully, so Firefox thinks it has crashed.  Has anyone tested the shutdown/log off on the Mac with Firefox? I’d be willing to bet that Firefox recognizes the shut down as a proper quit, and not a crash.

    Any programmers with knowledge of Windows COM/messaging have insight as to why this is?

    vb_baysider had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 243
  • I believe Windows kills the process, instead of sending a quit message, so the application is unable to close gracefully.

    I don’t think that’s true, except in the case of a forced reboot from Automatic Updates. Windows sends a shutdown message to all open apps, (I think it is called WM_QUIT, but don’t quote me on this) which usually causes them to throw up a “Save opened documents” dialog in most programs—and Windows will typically wait until. Only if Windows doesn’t hear back from the application, it will then ask if you want to “Force Quit” the app, or cancel shutdown.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 121
  • Everything I say here should be taken with the skepticism reserved for someone who is not a programmer trying to explain Windows programming. I’m really not a programmer, so I’ve probably processed my reading up on this wrong, but here goes anyway…

    OK, researching some more, when the command is sent to shut down Windows, Windows processes a command called ExitWindowsEx().  That command sends a command to all applications called WM_QueryEndSession, which basically asks can you shutdown. The program can either say “yes I can”, “No, cancel shutdown”, or “Wait a moment”.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 121
  • Well, it’s quite possible that Dreamweavers sucks in its own ways (actually, I know it does… but that’s another story), but I’m surprised that on the Mac side it would save its workspace state on a shut down but not do so on the PC side.

    Clearly though, quitting Dreamweaver produces different results than exiting from a shut down as it does with Firefox, so it makes one wonder what the difference is on the OS side and why it isn’t handled better.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Nov 03, 2006 Posts: 243
  • I think it is called WM_QUIT, but don’t quote me on this


    Benji had this to say on Nov 04, 2006 Posts: 927
  • I think it is called WM_QUIT, but don’t quote me on this…Sterling

    Muahahahahaaa! -Ben


    Robomac had this to say on Nov 04, 2006 Posts: 846
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