The much anticipated Firefox 4 Beta 1 is now ready for users to download and test.
This first version from Mozilla (News
) gives an early look at what's being planned for Firefox 4, and Mozilla is requesting lots of feedback from users.
Firefox 4 Beta 1 includes dozens of major features and improvements. Perhaps the most noticeable new feature for users with a Windows PC will be the look of the browser. The tabs have been moved to the top to make it easier to focus on the web content and easier to control the tools. For users with Windows 7 or Windows Vista, the menu bar was replaced with a single button so users can get to the most used options with a single click. Similar changes will be coming soon for Mac and Linux.
Other changes include:
New Add-Ons Manager, which gives more space to manage Add-Ons, Themes and Plugins.
HD-quality HTML5 video on YouTube (News
) using the new WebM format.
Privacy improvements to prevent exposing browser history.
When a plug-in crashes or freezes, users can resume browsing by refreshing the page.
Improved responsiveness at start-up and during page loads.
WebSockets: Build real-time, online interactions like gaming and chatting.
IndexedDB: Use structured storage in Web applications to speed them up or provide offline support.
Web Console: Peek into dynamic websites with this experimental 'Heads Up Display' analysis tool.
Simpler Add-On Development: Authors can create Add-Ons that don't require a restart to install, develop their Add-Ons more quickly using the new powerful Jetpack SDK, and safely connect to existing libraries using js-ctypes.
Once users download Firefox 4 Beta 1, they will be part of the official beta program and will receive updates as additional features are launched.
Ed Silverstein is a contributing editor for TMCnet's InfoTech Spotlight. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
In a related matter, IBM (News
) has adopted Firefox
as its default browser. With this move by IBM, some 400,000 employees worldwide will use the Firefox browser to surf the Internet.
Edited by Ed Silverstein