Firefox 2 RC1

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/ Updated: September 26, 2006 3:09 AM PDT

Firefox 2 (Bon Echo) RC1 is available for public download; however, Mozilla still recommends that only developers use the new build. The next scheduled release, Firefox 2 RC2, will be in the first week of October, with a final release expected by the end of the month. From what we've seen so far, Firefox 2 looks to be a sure winner.

New theme
It's subtle, but it's there. The RC1 toolbar has an almost glass-like look, with the traditional buttons Firefox users have grown used to appearing translucent until you hover your mouse near them, and they fill in. This gives the buttons a shine, as though they are glowing.

Live titles
Also known as Microsummaries, these titles appear in your bookmark section instead of as a static title. For example, the BBC's bookmark appears with the latest headline. Web sites generate the content and, like RSS does, feed them out to end users. So instead of seeing a bookmark www.weather.com, you'll see a line that says Ten-day forecast for San Francisco.

Built in phishing protection
With Firefox 2, you'll be protected against fraudulent sites. Should you stray onto a fraudulent bank or PayPal site, Firefox will alert you by graying out the page and displaying a dialog box. In our tests, however, we found that add-on toolbars outperformed the built-in antiphishing technology within Firefox 2 and even that of Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 7. Note: the antiphishing toolbar from Netcraft does not currently work with Firefox 2, but it works fine with Firefox 1.5.

Inline spelling checker
We've previously called this out, but Firefox 2 will have an inline spell-check function that will indicate words you may have misspelled and make suggestions for replacement words. This is handy if you post to online forums.

Also included in Firefox 2 are enhancements to RSS feeds, the ability to resume your last session--complete with open tabs (useful in the event of a browser crash), and enhanced search-engine capabilities, such as word suggestions from the search engine of your choice. Check back to read our full review in late October when the final version of Firefox 2 is released.

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Firefox 2 RC1

Part Number: CNETFIREFOX2RC1

Download for free from CNET Download.com.