The Firefox browser from Mozilla is on version three. And version three is currently available as "Prerelease Candidate 2". That means it's not ready for public consumption, but many people are using it. It's unlikely that much will change after Prerelease Candidate 2, so let's go with it. According to Walt Mossberg at least, Firefox 3 is the best browser you can buy right now, and of course, like all the other major browsers, you can't buy it -- it's free.
I’ve been using prerelease versions of Firefox 3.0 for months, and have recently been testing a near-final version and comparing it closely to IE and to Safari. I have tested it on multiple Windows PCs and Macs, on desktops and laptops, over slow connections and fast ones. I have tried it with well over 100 Web sites.
My verdict is that Firefox 3.0 is the best Web browser out there right now, and that it tops the current versions of both IE and Safari in features, speed and security. It is easy to install and easy to use, even for a mainstream, non-technical user. It can be downloaded, free, at mozilla.com by clicking on “Firefox 3 Sneak Peek.”
This situation may change. Microsoft is working on a new version of IE, scheduled to be unveiled later this year, with some impressive new features. And Apple is always working on new iterations of Safari, though it is secretive and hasn’t disclosed its plans. But for now, in my view, Firefox 3.0 rules on both Windows and Mac.
We tried Release Candidate 1, and it certainly did display pages more quickly and used fewer system resources to do so than Firefox 2 did. But an update of Adobe's Flash utility made it impossible to display Flash media at all, so Release Candidate 1 got nuked from orbit on our machine. We'll try Candidate 2 and see if it's fixed and report back to you.