The IEBlog recently posted about their efforts to improve reliability in Internet Explorer 8, particularly the idea of “loosely-coupled IE” (or LCIE). The short explanation is that each tab runs in its own process, so if a web page causes the browser to crash, only that tab crashes — not the whole thing. (It is a bit more complicated, but that’s the principle.) Combine that with session recovery (load with the same set of web pages, if possible with the form data you hadn’t quite finished typing in), and you massively reduce the pain of browser crashes.
I’d like to see something like this picked up by Firefox and Opera as well. They both have crash recovery already, but it still means restoring the entire session. If you have 20 tabs open, it’s great that you don’t have to hunt them down again. But it also means you have to wait for 20 pages to load simultaneously. It would be much nicer to only have to wait for one (or, if I read the IE8 article correctly, three).
Edited to add:
On a related note, I’ve run into an interesting conflict between crash recovery and WordPress’ auto-save feature. If you start a new post, WordPress will automatically save it as a draft. If the browser crashes, it will bring up the new-post page, but restore most of the form data you filled in. So the title, the text of your post, etc will all be there. But WordPress will see it as a new post, and you’ll end up with a duplicate.
This wasn’t a major problem when I encountered it — I had to reset the categories, tags, and post slug after I hit publish (since I hadn’t noticed that they’d been reset to defaults), and I just deleted the older, partial version of the post — but I can imagine if I’d uploaded an image gallery, I would have been rather annoyed, since there’s no way (that I’ve noticed) to move images from one post to another. Reuse them, sure, but not such that the gallery feature would work.