Three Firefox extensions engage Google, Opera, and Microsoft

These three Firefox 3 add-ons challenge--or work with--products from rival browser companies Google, Microsoft, and Opera.

Open In Google Chrome
Open In Google Chrome is for curious, but wary fence-sitters who may consider making the switch. (Credit: CNET Networks)

There's a bit of chatter about Google Chrome overtaking Firefox in coming months, after it fulfills more than a few wish lists (like this one). Yet, independent Firefox developers have a record for quickly countering features that crop up in rival browsers with a well-placed extension.

Take Fast Dial, for instance, one answer of many to Opera browser's speed dial feature, and another potential challenge to Chrome. Like Opera browser, Fast Dial displays thumbnail clips of your nine favorite Web sites. It runs in any blank window or in the current window if you click the toolbar shortcut, and can be configured to reign as your home page if you change your Firefox default to about:blank.

Fast Dial Firefox extension
Fast Dial counters thumbnail functionality found in Opera browser and Google Chrome. (Credit: CNET Networks)

While Chrome may not presently be developed enough to earn its Firefox challengers or converts, that's not stopping people like Digital Inspiration's Amit Agarwal from paving a pathway between the two. Open In Google Chrome is a new extension that plunks down an option in the Firefox context menu to see how the Web page looks in Chrome. In the options menu, you can also earmark certain sites you want to open exclusively in Chrome.

Setup requires you to browse for Google Chrome's executable; a quick enough, but somewhat clunky step. (After opening the download file with Firefox, open the Add-Ons window from Firefox's Tools menu and click the Options button for Agarwal's extension. Then browse through your program folders and double-click the file ending in 'chrome.exe.')

Agarwal hints that he wrote the add-on, tweaked from code for an Internet Explorer extension, for serious browsers who are weighing Chrome alongside Firefox.

A killer Zune theme

As long as Microsoft is working hard to clean up its image (new ad campaign | Windows Live betas), maybe it will do something about Internet Explorer. Like make it faster, more extensible, and generally cooler. For a lesson in the latter, see the Abstract Zune theme, an old favorite that's been recently upgraded for Firefox 3.

Abstract Zune theme for Firefox
This nod to Microsoft's Zune makes Firefox look good. (Credit: CNET Networks)

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.