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Firefox 2 Alpha 3

While changes within Firefox 2 Alpha 3 are bolder and better than those in Alpha 2, this version is still best suited only for developers and the technically adventurous.

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Robert Vamosi
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Robert Vamosi

Former Editor

As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

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3 min read

Firefox 2 Alpha 3 is the third iteration of the new browser from Mozilla, and it's the most feature complete. Firefox 2 Alpha 3 (also known as Bon Echo) tweaks features already available in earlier builds such as automatic restoration of your current tab sessions in the event of a software crash, inline spell-checking for Web forms, and the integration of search engine-suggestion capabilities. The biggest news, however, is the addition of Google's antiphishing technology to Firefox 2. One caveat: This is still a developer's build, and your current Firefox extensions will probably break, so only the technically adventurous should proceed.

Antiphishing monitor
Mozilla has partnered with Google to provide its antiphishing technology natively within the browser. Currently you can download Google Safe Browsing as an extension, but within Firefox 2, the technology will be built in. Now whenever you search to a site Google has determined contains the potential phishing fraud, Firefox 2 displays a very visible warning near the address bar. Although currently limited to a set of built-in blacklisted sites, the Firefox/Google antiphishing tool has the capability to learn new sites and report new suspected fraud sites. As with other phishing monitors, such as the one to be included within Internet Explorer 7, you always have the option of continuing on to a suspected phishing site. And should a legitimate site display a warning, Google provides an online form to remove that site from its built-in blacklist.

Previously announced Firefox 2 features include:

Tabs
Firefox 2 includes Close buttons within the individual tabs, allowing you to quickly remove tabs no longer in use. Another tab-related change within Firefox 2 is the default capability for embedded page links to open new tabs, not new windows. Best new tab feature: automatic restoration of your current tab sessions in the event of a software crash.

Search
Within Firefox 2, you can quickly reorder your search engine preferences and take advantage of that engine's search-suggestion capabilities. Say you want to find information on the White House; just typing white gives you a drop-down menu of recent choices on Google, for example. Firefox 2 also recognizes specialized search engines, allowing you to add a search of, say, CNET content to your search engine list.

Microsummaries
Not yet visible on most sites but available within the Firefox 2 code is something called Microsummaries. This allows a page to push out the most important details of that page for display within your browser, such as "weather pages: the current forecast, for example, SF: showers likely." This differs from Really Simple Syndication (RSS) in that there isn't much additional content available, but the content will be updated as often as necessary.

RSS reader
Mozilla also wants to streamline the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) subscription process--currently, you must add RSS feeds as live bookmarks in Firefox 1.5. In Firefox 2, click a page's RSS icon, and a default RSS reader within Firefox displays the latest headlines from that site (no more ugly XML code).

Inline spell-checking
Now any text that you type into multiline text boxes online will be checked for mistakes. However, only dictionary words are checked, and misspellings are identified with a squiggly red line. Grammar, which includes missing words, will not be checked.

Add-on management
In Firefox 2, you can manage your extensions and themes (skins) within Firefox in one console.

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