FireFox 0.9 – First Impressions

It’s been a couple of days now, since I first installed FireFox 0.9 and it’s been an interesting journey. Pete convinced me months ago to switch to FireFox and I have been a devoted Firebird/FireFox user since then. The last version on my machine was 0.8 and I was very happy with the stability of that release.

After my initial experiments with FireFox, I had made it my default browser and I have been very happy with it. The idea of browsing with tabs is just amazing and it’s one of those things where you don’t know how you go along with it. Plus I loved all of the extensions that were available to enhance your browsing and development experience. I spend a lot of time developing web applications and I use The Web Developer extension by Chris Pederick and Live HTTP Headers by Daniel Savard extensively. Another extension that made life incredibly easy was the IE View extension by Paul Roub that adds a ‘View page in Internet Explorer’ links to the content and link context menu. Really handing for consuming those IE only sites.

I have now been using FireFox 0.9 and I have had several stability issues that are making me wonder if I should go back to 0.8. The first issue was really bizarre where I couldn’t even open FireFox under Windows 2000. Browsing the support site led me to a ‘before-you-ask-read-this’ page, which recommended starting FireFox from the command line with a -p switch that would invoke the FireFox profile manager. I deleted my old profile, created a new one and then everything seemed to work. On my other machine that’s running Windows XP, FireFox was a completely different story. I would double-click the icon and FireFox would start up and then exit and then start up again. I watched this for a few minutes via the Task Manager before killing the process and deleting my profile. I also had to uninstall the older 0.8 version before FireFox would start up.

In my limited time of running FireFox 0.9, I see some major improvements over 0.8 but the new features have brought some new instability with them. 0.8 was rock solid and I can’t say that about the latest release. Some of the things that I love in this new release are the new extensions manager, the new theme manager and the new built-in update manager. Once some of the initial issues are worked out, I’m sure the 0.9 release will be better than the previous release. Kudos to the Mozilla FireFox development team and I cannot wait for the official 1.0 release. Microsoft has pretty much given up on IE and I hope FireFox is a wakeup call, as people aren’t going to wait around for Longhorn, which may or may not arrive in 2006. Just saw this on BetaNews where Microsoft has assigned Dave Massy, a technology evangelist at Microsoft to promote IE. Let’s call this the Mozilla effect ;-)