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Firefox 4 hits third beta stage, gets touchy-feely with Windows 7

JavaScript in heavy C++ overhaul

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Mozilla has slung out its third beta of Firefox 4, which now comes with Windows 7 multi-touch support.

This test build of the browser also has improvements to its JavaScript handling functions. However, the interface itself remains unchanged from the previous beta released by Mozilla late last month.

That’s hardly surprising given the level of UI tweakage that was made to the second beta of Firefox 4. With the latest beta release, Mozilla has turned its attention to the more fundamental needs of the browser.

Importantly, Firefox 4 beta 3 comes with changes to the C++ representation of JavaScript, to allow the surfing tool “to execute heavy, numeric code more efficiently”, said Mozilla.

The code itself is used to construct smooth, streamlined graphics in modern web apps.

Mozilla boffin Rob Sayre crunches the integers in a detailed post about the process here, including what it means for ongoing development of the open source browser maker’s JaegerMonkey JavaScript engine - expected to be slotted into the finalised version of Firefox 4.

Elsewhere, the beta now supports Windows 7 multi-touch, which in the meantime allows developers to play with a new API. That code might eventually trickle down to surfers in the form of an extension. But for now at least it’s a coders-only playpen.

WebGL support remains switched off by default and Mozilla said that its new Addons Manager and extension management API user interface would be changed before Firefox 4 is finally shipped.

Mozilla has been gathering tons of feedback from users about the Firefox 4 betas, in a move to address bugs, garner reactions to the builds and also get details about the kind of people that use the browser.

“We discovered that our beta users are primarily men who use the web between two and six hours each day, mostly for entertainment and communication,” noted Mozilla.

“This doesn’t come as a surprise to us, but it also isn’t a great representation of internet users. We need your help! If you’re enjoying using the Firefox 4 beta, tell your friends, get them set up and don’t forget to point out the Feedback button.”

The third beta is of course an incomplete product, so – as ever – those of you about to download the latest test release of Firefox 4 should do so cautiously. This way ladies and gentlemen, please. ®

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