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Week in review: A speedier new Firefox

Mozilla's latest version plays catch-up with the browser competition. Also: the latest in Windows 7 news, and a Yahoo data center in a new shade of green.

Mozilla's latest browser version, Firefox 3.5, made its official public debut this week, pleasing users with new, faster features, but in no particular way leaping ahead of its predecessor or its growing host of competitors.

Firefox 3.5, the embodiment of Mozilla's attempt to "upgrade the Web," was released Thursday for Windows, Windows Portable, Mac, and Linux. Some of its key improvements are a new a new JavaScript engine for faster Web applications such as Google Docs; the ability to show video built into Web pages without plug-ins; a private browsing mode; fancy downloadable fonts; and geolocation technology that can let Web sites know where you are.

These features excited users, though they came as little surprise. The release followed a testing process that involved four beta builds, three release candidates, and a version number change.

But the thing is, even though Mozilla's browserbroke Microsoft's lock on the market--Internet Explorer's market share is down a dramatic 8 percentage points to 65.5 percent in about the last year--Firefox is no longer the only scrappy, alternative browser in town. Other serious contenders now include Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, and Opera.

And of course, there's also the challenge of getting Web programmers to employ Firefox 3.5's features.

Still, Firefox has come a long way, as we illustrate in this history of its big interface changes, from version 0.8 up to this week's release. And don't miss our list of Firefox extensions we've found to work--or break--in the new Firefox 3.5.

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