Mozilla dropped me a note today about the first beta of Firefox 3.0:

Last night, Mozilla released the first Beta of Firefox 3.0, the next generation of the Firefox open source browser. Mozilla has been hard at work developing enhancements to the security, performance and usability of the browser, to ensure that Firefox users experience the Web as it was meant to be.

Please note that this is a Beta release, and that developments and further enhancements to the browser will be incorporated into the final product. Beta releases are for testing purposes only and are not recommended for casual users.  We welcome your feedback and hope that you will choose to review Firefox 3.0 once we have reached our final milestones with the GA release.

New features in this initial Beta release of Firefox 3.0:

More secure

  • New security UI with easy to understand messages, including site identity verification (EV certificates).

  • Password Manager: make sure you've logged in with the right password before you get Firefox to save it.

  • Automatic version check of plugins, extensions, and Java, with auto-disabling if insecure versions are installed. Secure updates are now required to improve security of add-ons.

  • Anti-virus integration with the new download manager.

Easier to use

  • New Download Manager: pause and resume downloads across sessions.

  • Better rendering of international characters.

  • Full-page zooming: zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images.

  • UI improvements: animated tab strip makes it easier to find tabs, custom search bar width, tabs saving on exit, and site-specific preferences.

More Personal

  • Organize your browsing with Places: includes history, bookmarks, tags, and the location bar.

  • Star and tag sites directly from the location bar.

  • New organizer with advanced search, multiple views, and smart folders.

  • Full search location bar using tags, bookmarks and history.

Under the Hood

  • Better text and graphics rendering, color profile support, layout improvements.

  • Cycle collector for better memory management.

  • Support for offline browsing and web-based protocol handlers.

  • Platform-specific enhancements, such as native widgets on Mac and Linux.

You can download this Beta release of Firefox 3.0 here:  http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html

For more details, you can view the DevNews post about the beta here http://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/index.php/2007/11/19/firefox-3-beta-1-now-available-for-download

You can find full release notes here: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/3.0b1/releasenotes/