Firefox 3 Beta 4 Offers Speed, Security Improvements


Firefox 3 is based on the new Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 28 months and includes nearly 2 million lines of code changes, fixing more than 11,000 issues. Firefox 3 Beta 4 features more than 900 enhancements from the previous beta, including improvements to performance and memory usage, as well as fixes for stability, platform enhancements and user interface improvements.

According to Mozilla, improvements to the browser's JavaScript engine as well as profile-guided optimizations have led to speedier applications. Compared with Firefox 2, Web applications such as Google Mail and Zoho Office run twice as fast in Firefox 3 Beta 4. Likewise, the SunSpider test from Apple shows improvements over previous releases, the company said.

In the new beta, several new technologies work together to reduce the amount of memory used by Firefox 3 Beta 4 over a Web browsing session. Memory cycles are broken and collected by an automated cycle collector, a new memory allocator reduces fragmentation, hundreds of leaks have been fixed, and caching strategies have been tuned.

The new beta offers hundreds of user-friendly changes, including an improved download manager that streamlines finding downloaded files. Enhancements made to tabbed browsing lets users close tabs independently; if a tab is accidentally closed, a list of recently closed tabs is available under the History menu. Should too many tabs be open to view at once, scroll arrows can be used to access a list of all open tabs.

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New security enhancements include phishing protection that alerts users when they land on a Web site that is a suspected fake. The browser offers a warning and a redirect to a search page in order to locate the real, desired Web site. In addition, Firefox does not allow a Web site to download, install, or run programs (including spyware) on a computer without the user's explicit agreement. The browser also warns users when they arrive at sites known to download malware, and prevents installation.

A final release is expected this year.