Mozilla Unleashes First Firefox 3 Update, Offers a Glimpse of 3.1

Mozilla has released the first Firefox 3 update, which bring the browser up to 3.0.1 and fixes and number of small bugs, a few crashers and some security holes.

The update didn’t cause any problems with my extensions, though you’ll want to make sure you grab the final version — earlier builds would threaten to disable the Gears plug-in. Early reports also seem to indicate that Tab Mix Plus and few other extensions may be disabled by Firefox 3.0.1. Hopefully the respective developers will update their extensions soon.

While it’s nice to see Mozilla rolling out the bug and security fixes in a timely fashion, there isn’t too much Firefox 3.0.1 to get excited about.

However Firefox 3.1, the next significant upgrade, is already very much underway.

Mozilla Links recently took a look at the new tab switching mechanism that’s due to land in 3.1. The early prototypes have the UI looking more or less like the application tab switchers you’ll find in OS X or Linux — a black transparent bezel with mid-size icons of each of your tabs.

The interface is a step up over the current mechanism [which essentially doesn’t have an interface], however some users may find the tab icons are a bit large for fast visual switching — only three are displayed at a time.

But the even more jarring change is behavioral. Instead of just moving to the next opened tab, Firefox 3.1’s tab switcher will flip between the current and the last viewed tab and continue through all the tabs in descending time-based order.

If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, rest assured to old behavior will still be available via Ctrl + Page Up and Ctrl + Page Down.

And of course Firefox 3.1 is still in the planning stages, so it’s possible the interface will change before the final release, which is slated for the end of 2008.

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