Fans of Firefox get ready, because this version is simply an amazing feat of browser design.
But you expected no less, right?
The Test Center's reviewers loaded Firefox 3.1 beta on a Vista desktop outfitted with 2 GB RAM and Pentium dual-core at 1.80 GHz. Take a look at these benchmark numbers from a side-by-side comparison of IE7 and Firefox 3.1 running on the same box:
-- 3D Java rendering test : IE: 2.85 seconds, Firefox: 0.857 seconds
-- SunSpider java benchmark tests: IE: 107159.4ms, Firefox: 3894.6ms
-- Acid 3 : IE: 12/100, Firefox: 89/100
Using Scanit, an online security browser that tests for issues with Quick time, memory corruption and overflows, Firefox passed all seventeen tests.
Firefox 3.1 is the fastest version yet. One of our favorite sites to use for testing is papervision3d.org because it is so graphics heavy. Firefox 3.1 took 25 seconds to fully load. Compare this to our last Firefox 3 review on the same machine, Firefox 3 took 45 seconds to load the site's 3D image.
The browser is unquestionably fast. It also comes with some new features, many of them under-the-hood and dealing with advanced CSS capabilities, but there are some new interface features as well. For instance, Cntrl-tab has been added as a shortcut to quickly switch between tabs. Also, tabs can be dragged and dropped between Mozilla windows, a feature that works well and smoothly.
There is also the ability to now do restricted searches in the Awesome bar. The character "^" can be used to restrict searching to history, "*" restricts to bookmarks, and "+" to tagged pages.
Mozilla has cited known issues with the beta, (there aren't many, yet) that include failure to install certain client certificates when downloaded from a CA (Certificate Authority), an issue with OS X PPC Macs hanging when viewing an Ogg video, and the migration dialog box not appearing after installing on Windows, which was not an issue during out test.
Also, Mozilla cautions that extensions added in Firefox 3 should not be expected to work properly in this beta.
The performance in this version is superb. It will be interesting to keep an eye out to see if any security exploits are discovered.