Developers can run the latest iteration of Firefox now, while casual users should wait until the final release in the fall.
CNET Reviews staff
Although it's not intended for public consumption, a new build of Firefox 3 Alpha 5 (code name Gran Paradiso) is available for download from Mozilla. In this release, add-ons created for Firefox 2 may not work. For end users, Firefox 2 remains the latest public version. The final public release for Firefox 3 is not expected until the fall of 2007.
Opening Gran Paradiso, you'll see almost no changes from Firefox 2. Under the hood, however, is the new Gekko 1.9 rendering engine (Firefox 2 uses Gekko 1.8). Unfortunately, this will mean that Firefox 3 will no longer support Windows 95, 98, and Me, and for the Mac OS X, versions 10.2 and earlier will no longer be supported. There will also be numerous changes made to the Document Object Model (DOM) in Gekko 1.9, which will affect developers more than end users. Also, there will be changes in the way Firefox renders frames within its display and the way object tags are handled, as well as changes in event threading.
What's truly exciting about this alpha release is a feature called Places. As first seen in Firefox 2 Alpha 1, then temporarily tabled, Places returns in Firefox 3 Alpha 5--kind of. For the moment, the only visible part of Places is the redesigned bookmark manager within Firefox 3 Alpha 5 to offer a taste of what's to come.
One feature, the bookmark manager, gives us creative ways to sort our bookmarks. There's also a built-in search box. Coming soon will be greater management for RSS subscriptions and browser history. Places uses the open-source SQLite database, giving it greater extensibility plus the ability to back up and restore bookmarks.