In preparation for Firefox 3.1 Beta 2, due around mid-November, the Firefox development team is furiously completing and landing important features to the code base.
Today’s nightly features the long ago announced tab preview panel that replaces the All tabs list it used to feature in the far right side.
As you can see it shows your currently open tabs (nine at a time) separated in pages identified by dots at the bottom (a la iPhone/iPod Touch) you can click to change.
The tab search bar (at the top and center), is a great help to get to the tab you need when you have more than 20 tabs or so, specially now that tab searching from the location bar has been phased out of the Firefox 3.1 development cycle. As you type on it, tabs are filtered based on the page title only, no full page or web page address search.
Another thing the thumbnails lack is a close tab button which I see no reason to be missing: Fennec has it, Internet Explorer 7 has it. Even Windows 7 will have it in its new task bar.
I hope it would become a real tab manager with options to organize, reload, pin and copy as well. Most likely, an extension will take on this before too long.
Tab switching (pressing Ctrl + Tab) is also using this larger tab preview panel instead of the single row we saw in Beta 1. Still, you can disable tab switching preview setting browser.ctrlTab.previews to false via about:config.