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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Arriving on Tuesday: Firefox's 1.5 Browser

As we reported recently, the final version of Firefox 1.5 is due to show up on Tuesday, sometime in the afternoon. Once it does, it'll be available at GetFirefox.com, and I'll get in line with the teeming masses to download it. But I've been using various pre-release versions for weeks now, and for the most part, things have gone extremely well. The little browser that could has gotten even better.

Firefox 1.5 looks practically the same as 1.0, and there's no single new feature that'll change your life. But there's a pretty long list of enhancements, including at least two that are major and overdue: You can now download and install patches to the browser--rather than having to download the whole shebang every time--and you can drag and drop tabs to shuffle 'em around.

Some of the other tweaks include a quick and easy way to flush out your browser history and other settings that snoops might look at, faster performance of the Back and Forward buttons (according to Mozilla--I never had a problem with 1.0's speed here, but 1.5 does feel a tad snappier), and a tidier, better-organized Options dialog. And bravo to Mozilla for taking the time to improve the browser's accessibility to disabled users, including better support for screen readers for the blind.

The upgrade also has a bunch of architectural refinements, such as support for SVG, CSS 2, CSS 2, and CSS 3; most of us won't notice these, but they put the browser in better stead to run today and tomorrow's most sophisticated Web applications smoothly. And Mozilla says it has "many" security enahncements, which might be reason enough to upgrade.

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