The much awaited Firefox 3 (FF3) — available for download at 10am PDT Tuesday (or Wednesday, June 18, at 1:00 am in Malaysia) — is the culmination of a two-year quest to build the best browser ever.

FF3 is touted to be the fastest and most secure version of Firefox yet. Most of the reviews of FF3 suggested, significant improvements, in particular on the way it uses your computer’s resources, so the memory leaks and other performance problems found in Firefox 2 have been stamped out.

I’m currently using the RC version and kinda love the text and image rendering. In term of speed, Firefox is whole lot faster than Microsoft Internet Explorer. Similar to Firefox 2, FF3 comes with customization option – users can customize the browser, adding additional bells and whistles through downloadable extensions. But the basic version is powerful and fast enough for us to give it our highest recommendation.

Here’s why I you should download the Firefox 3 to replace your aging Internet Explorer 7 for good! Latest of what I’m doing? Follow me on Twitter

Speed and performance

User of the previous version of Firefox often dreaded it performance record. The browser grew so sluggish and unresponsive after a few hours of surfing that it became almost entirely unusable. Whatever the wrinkles, they have been ironed out in the new release.

Security

Firefox 3 introduces a new visual language to the browser security game. The subtle tinting and the tiny padlock icon in the location bar denoting a site’s safety are being phased out in favor of stark iconography and clearly defined, color-coded cues. Security warnings come in the form of the passport officer symbol used in international airport terminals worldwide. He shows up as a different color based on the level of security of the site you’re dealing with, and that color is matched by the large button on the left end of the location bar.

Verified, secure sites make the button glow green. Sites with very basic identity information show up as blue, and unverified sites show up as the default gray. Click on the color-coded button and you can see how often you’ve visited the website (if at all), information about the company that owns it and the link to its identity certificate.

Sites with invalid identity certificates show a yellow passport officer and an on-screen warning. Visit a known phishing or malware website and the page is blocked from loading, with a red passport officer and an explanation being shown instead. The list of known attack sites is maintained by the community and updated regularly.

History, bookmarks and discovery

The most significant enhancement to Firefox 3 is also the most subtle. It’s the location bar, the text field at the top of the window where you enter the web address of your desired destination. Once a purely pedestrian feature, the location bar in Firefox 3 has been juiced up to the point where it is now central to the browsing experience.

Start typing a URL and the window leaps to your aid, searching the page titles and URLs in your browsing history and offering suggestions for the page you’re most likely looking for. Searches are instantaneous and happen as you type. Continue typing and your searches get narrower. Pick a URL from the list and Firefox will remember your choice. The next time you type that same term, your previous choice will appear near the top of the list, if not at the very top.

Native look and feel

It’s a small enhancement, but it’s a noticeable one that many users will welcome. Older versions of Firefox were dressed in the same gray clothes no matter which operating system you ran. In Firefox 3, each OS gets its own skin for the browser. Mac users will see buttons, scrollbars and tabs that finally look not just “Macish” but entirely Mac-native. The same goes for a Windows XP version with green buttons and a Vista version with that OS’s glowing blue appointments. Ubuntu users even get a version that’s, appropriately, boxy and orange.

A better fit for your workflow

For advanced web users, especially those who favor webapps like Gmail or Yahoo mail over their desktop counterparts like Outlook, Firefox 3 provides a more seamless integration into their modern workflow.

Application-specific links on web pages can be set to trigger webapps. For example, you can set up the browser so that clicking on a mailto link opens up in Yahoo Mail rather than in Outlook, or that a calendar event gets added to Google Calendar instead of iCal. This is an extension of what we saw when Firefox 2 asked you how you like to read your RSS feeds — in a desktop app, with Live Bookmarks or in an online tool like Bloglines or Google Reader.

There’s also support for running your webapps off-line. If you go through a quick set up procedure, you can answer messages in Gmail and work on a document in an online word processor, then sync up later when your net access is restored.

Lastly, searching is whole lot easier in Firefox 3. Not only are your bookmarks accessible directly from the location bar, but recent downloads and Firefox’s add-on library now have a search box. Most web-based tools use search as an essential component, and it’s because of this emphasis on dynamic search capability that Firefox 3 feels much more in tune with the way we expect our applications to behave on today’s web.

Download your Firefox 3. It’s totally FREE, SAFER AND FASTER

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