Feeds

Mozilla stokes Firefox 4 with first beta build

New look tabs get Windows-only view on world for now

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Mozilla has released a first beta of Firefox 4, which comes loaded with lots of fresh features and a distinctive new look.

In January the open source browser maker nixed Firefox 3.7 and jumped instead to Firefox 4 in a move to reflect the number of changes it was making to the popular surfing tool.

The current iteration of Firefox is 3.6. Firefox 4 will supersede that later this summer when the finalised code is expected to be released.

“If you are using a Windows PC, the most noticeable new feature will be the look of the browser,” noted Mike Beltzner on Mozilla’s blog.

“We moved the tabs to the top to make it easier to focus on the web content and easier to control the tools in your web browser. Also, if you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista the Menu bar was replaced with a single Firefox button so you can get to the most used options with just one click. These changes will be coming soon for Mac and Linux.”

Beltzner was keen to express that the latest Firefox beta wasn’t simply “a facelift on Windows”. It also comes with a new add-ons management tool for users to fiddle with their plug-ins and themes.

Browser privacy has been improved, he said, with the beta fixing flaws in some web standards that could have exposed a user’s surfing history.

HD video support has been injected into the beta, allowing people to watch HTML5 vids on YouTube using the new WebM format.

More importantly, Beltzner and his team think they’ve cracked the problem of crashes and performance problems in Firefox - which have become contentious issues for some users of the browser.

El Reg readers have been very vocal critics of recent versions of Firefox by complaining that the browser has become bloated and moved too far away from its original development goals.

With so-called “crash protection” built into the Firefox 4 beta, users can “experience uninterrupted browsing (now available on all platforms) - when a plugin crashes or freezes, you can resume browsing by simply refreshing the page,” explained Beltzner.

At the same time, Mozilla has been trying to beef up performance in Firefox, though it concedes there’s still a long way to go on that score.

“We know that performance is important. In this version, we focused on improving responsiveness at start-up and during page loads. This is just the beginning for performance improvements in Firefox 4,” Beltzner said.

As for the underlying code, Mozilla has added an HTML5 parser, called WebSockets, that allows developers to create yet more real-time integration for the Web2.0 wasteland, as well as IndexedDB for web apps to use structured storage.

There is also a web console analysis tool for coders to look at “dynamic websites” and easier add-on development tools with the use of the much-hyped (by Mozilla at least) Jetpack SDK.

The beta can be downloaded here, and Mozilla has the full rundown of what’s been loaded into the build here. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.