Mozilla Offers Firefox 5 Beta Release

Fulfilling its promise to churn out new releases of the Firefox open-source browser on a faster schedule, Mozilla has launched a beta version of Firefox 5 just two months after Firefox 4 hit the streets.

Firefox 5, for both desktop and mobile devices, is scheduled to be generally available June 21.

Mozilla recently created what it called the Aurora development channel, a pre-beta stage where users can try out new software features and capabilities that are more polished than those offered in the raw "nightly build" releases, but may or may not appear in beta or final releases.

Mozilla said the aurora releases make it possible to deliver Firefox updates more quickly and give users more opportunities to participate in building the software.

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Mozilla's faster browser development schedule is intended to help the open-source organization keep pace with Google', which is rapidly turning out new releases of its Chrome browser. Microsoft is also stepping up its browser development pace: The company recently began previewing Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 less than a month after IE9 became available.

Firefox 5 offers a number of performance and stability enhancements. But the key improvement is support for the new CSS Animations standard, a proposed new module for the Cascading Style Sheets technology that animates XML elements on Web pages.

The mobile version of Firefox 5 also includes the "Do Not Track" feature that was available in Firefox 4 for desktop computers. Do Not Track is an emerging standard that signal's a user's request to a Web service to disable any Web site visitor tracking.

The new release also includes what Mozilla calls "channel switcher," a tool that lets users move between aurora, beta and final releases of the browser and test features at each level of development.

The beta release of Firefox 5 can be downloaded from the Mozilla Website.