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Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Beta Arrives, 3.5 Not Far Behind

Mozilla developers say fourth beta of oft-delayed browser upgrade will have a whole new name to reflect ongoing changes.

beta version Firefox posting to the Mozilla Developer Center blog

Bugs in the JavaScript engine TraceMonkey have been just some of the reasons for the holdup.

But according to Mozilla, Firefox 3.1 beta 3 promises improvements to the new Private Browsing Mode (including a "forget this site" function in the history sidebar), improvements to its Gecko layout engine, new native JSON parsing support (to protect Firefox against code execution), better stability in TraceMonkey and also support for video and audio functions like W3C Geolocation API, JavaScript query selectors, CSS 2.1 and 3 properties, SVG transforms and offline applications.

Mozilla has also confirmed that the Firefox 3.1 name may already be a thing of the past.

Mozilla's previously mentioned decision to release a fourth beta of the browser -- scheduled for April 14 -- will also see Firefox 3.1 renamed to Firefox 3.5. The name change, according to Mozilla, is meant to reflect how much has changed about the browser since the original, 10-month-old Firefox 3.0.

"The increase in version number is proposed due to the sheer volume of work which makes Shiretoko feel like much more than a small, incremental improvement over Firefox 3," said Mike Beltzer, Mozilla's Firefox director, in a March 5 posting to the Mozilla developer blog. "Bugs will be filled to ensure that systems like addons.mozilla.org, bugzilla.mozilla.org, tinderbox.mozilla.org [and] crash-stats.mozilla.org will continue to work with minimal disruption, and we will coordinate with those systems' administrators to coordinate the work."

Firefox 3.1 was originally scheduled for release in December 2008. The third beta version of Firefox 3.1 is arriving just one week before the scheduled final release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8.

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