Mozilla 1.0 went gold Wednesday, and it’s a keeper.
After years of suffering through Netscape 4.x, Netscape loyalists finally have a browser that’s worth upgrading to. Mozilla 1.0 offers speed that’s comparable to the latest versions of Internet Explorer (when it’s not downright faster), along with better standards compliance, fewer security holes (did you catch the security hole in IE’s gopher implementation Wednesday?) and compelling features that IE lacks.

I wish you belief in life, belief in fate. Belief you are lucky, and worth the wait. –‘Til Tuesday

It’s been more than 4 years coming, and it’s going to take a lot more than luck to regain the ground the Mozilla family tree has lost since 1997. But in all honesty, it offers a lot. Maybe not enough for the world at large, but it offers more than enough for me.

Like what? Tabbed browsing, for one thing. Tabs are one of those things that you don’t realize you love until you’re forced to work without them. You can keep one window open and have a dozen sites open inside it, instead of cluttering up your screen with a dozen windows. Switch by clicking a tab. Want to open a link without losing your place? Right click and tell it to open the link in a new tab. Opera offered a multi-window view for years, but the Galeon project for Linux perfected it with a tab interface. Opera has since adopted a similar interface, while Mozilla almost lifted it outright.

Opening tabs is considerably faster than opening a new window, by the way.
Still more? You can block those infuriating popups and popunders with Mozilla’s option to disable Javascript on page load. Javascript still works for sites that need it, just not when the page is loading. So now you can lose those popup killers.

Need more? You’re one tough customer. Let’s say you go to a Web page and find an objectionable banner or sidebar ad. Right-click on the ad, then choose “Block images from this server.” Do this for all the objectionable ads on a site, then reload and repeat. After doing this a few times, chances are you’ll have eliminated all the bad ads from a given page–and from other pages too, since many sites use the same ad servers.

Even more? OK, here’s a longime Netscape feature that IE never stole. If you tend to browse with images turned off for speed, you can go to the View menu and pick Display images to quickly and temporarily turn images back on, one time only. You have to go through a lot of gymnastics to turn images off and on in IE.

Still more? OK. Mozilla’s scaling actually works, unlike IE’s, which is easily defeated. So now you can crank your display resolution up to 3200×2400 and run your fonts at 8x normal size so you don’t go blind. Plus it’s keyboard-accessible, so you can quickly and easily scale by hitting Ctrl-+ and Ctrl–, in case viewing becomes uncomfortable.

On a somewhat related note, you can modify the look of pages that use stylesheets. If you’re handy with crafting your own stylesheet, you can override the stylesheets used on any Web page by going to View, Use Stylesheet. So if you hate your favorite Web site’s new design, there’s a quick and easy cure for that, as long as they use stylesheets (many do). I don’t bother, since I generally trust designers, but I know some people don’t.

I do wish Mozilla would steal IE’s Ctrl-Enter shortcut (which prepends www. and appends .com to whatever you type) as it’s a real keystroke-saver. But given all the other features the Microsoft-lackey tech journalists don’t want you to know about, I’m willing to give that one up. Maybe it’ll eventually arrive anyway.

The 1.0 release is largely symbolic; I’ve been using various Mozilla builds since early in the 0.9 series and found them to be no less usable or stable than other browsers, although, admittedly, it wasn’t until 1.0RC2 that Mozilla became my primary (almost exclusive) browser in Windows. It’s been better than Netscape 4.x for some time now.