Firefox 2 Is Here!

Hot on the heels of the IE 7 release, Firefox 2 is being released Tuesday. Google news had a short article from MacWorld which had a link to the files on an FTP server. The files are time stamped this morning. I decide to go for it. My only real concern is for the add-ins I’m using. And of those, Google Browser Sync is the only one I don’t want to do without. I’ll start with my Windows box and see what happens. It’s not a big deal if there are problems with that PC. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares to my recent IE 7 upgrade.

First I check my extensions:
Google Browser Sync 1.2.20060911.3: Google says it works with 1.5+. So a strict interpretation means it should work. Of course, experience says sometimes software vendors don’t mention an upper limit, especially for unreleased software.
Web Developer 1.0.2: The write-up on the Firefox add-ins page says it works with 2.
Yahoo! Photos Easy Upload Tool 2006.4.17: I couldn’t find any info on this. But it’s the least important add-in as I only downloaded it to evaluate Yahoo Photos and I haven’t started that yet.

So I download a 5.7MB file for the Windows install. (IE was 14.7MB)

I run the setup and it’s a very straightforward setup. I pick custom instead of standard. The only custom install options where the “Dom Inspector” and the “Quality Feedback Agent”. The default is to install them. I keep the defaults. The description of the DOM Inspector is “Inspects the structure and properties of a window and its contents.” The Quality Feedback Agent sends information about program crashes to Mozilla.

I’m asked where I want to install. The default is the same directory that Firefox 1.5 is in. I keep the default.

Next I’m asked where I want the icons created. All three locations are checked by default and I keep them selected. They are “On my desktop”, “In my start menu programs folder”, and “In my quick launch bar”.

The install runs. When it’s done I’m asked if I want to start Firefox. I do.

When starting Firefox checks the add-ins. The only one with a problem is Yahoo! Photos. I click a button to check for an update. There isn’t one. Firefox tells me it will disable the extension and periodically check for an update. No big deal, just means I can’t do bulk uploads to a photo site I’ve yet to use.

On the first start I notice two tabs open. The first tab is an intro page with links to release notes, the add-ins page and my home page. My previous home page is in the second tab.

A quick check shows the Browser Sync and Web Developer add-ins seem to be working fine. Things are going to well I decide to upgrade Firefox on my Mac.

Upgrading Firefox on OS X

I start up Firefox 1.5 on my Mac and make sure browser sync works by using the browser history that should have been synced. There it is. I download the Mac version. It’s a 17.6MB download that’s a DMG disk image file. I double-click the file. When it’s mounted the license screen is displayed. I accept and the typical “Drag this icon to Applications” screen is displayed as shown in this picture:

Install screen for Firefox on the Mac

I drag the icon to my applications folder. After agreeing to let it replace my older version it’s copied. I unmount the disk and start Firefox. I’m again told that the Yahoo! Photos add-in is incompatible. I again check for a compatible version but, as expected, there isn’t one. Just as with the Windows version, two tabs open. The first has the intro page and the second my home page.

First impressions of Firefox 2 are good. There’s now an “X” on each tab to close that tab, rather than one “X” to close the active tab. Unlike IE it still looks a lot like the previous version so there isn’t a radical change to get used to.


Now, to compare the installation to IE. First, the IE installation wasn’t too bad. But there were certainly more questions, screens and decisions with IE 7. The IE installation took longer. It was excessive, and maybe if I simply clicked through the screens the time might have been closer to Firefox. In both cases (IE and Firefox) I was upgrading existing browsers and they took the settings. Since Firefox is my primary browser, and I sync it between PCs there was certainly more to maintain during the upgrade. The first start up for Firefox was straightforward. The first start up for IE was cluttered with a selection for a tour and to view add-ons (many add-ons were being sold, which was a turn-off for me). IE 7 has a drastic change to the UI of IE 6 (arguably a good thing) while Firefox is similar to the previous version so there’s no hunting for a feature (at least not yet). Bottom line, IE 7 wasn’t enough of an upgrade to make it my primary browser in Windows and now with Firefox 2 it’s less likely. The changes a user (me) sees in Firefox are incremental. Speaking for myself they fall in the category of things I’ve seen in other browsers and liked.

The real test will come as I visit sites with each browser.

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