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09 December 2008, 15:10

Second beta of Firefox 3.1 available

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The developers of Mozilla have released the second beta of version 3.1 of the Firefox web browser. According to the release notes, this version is based on the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering engine, which is said to offer improved web compatibility and performance. The new Gecko reportedly offers a "speculative parsing" feature that speeds up content rendering.

The new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, introduced with the previous beta in October, but left turned off, is now enabled by default. A new feature is an implementation of the developing Web Workers concept, which moves complex JavaScript calculations into background threads. These are isolated – for instance, they can run on a separate core or CPU to the main Firefox thread – and are automatically stopped when a user leaves a website. Firefox 3.1 also supports new web technologies like the <video> and <audio> tags and the W3C Geolocation API, as well as CSS 2.1 and 3.

One of the most talked-about new features in beta 2 is a new Private Browsing Mode. Sometimes referred to as "porn mode", this is inspired by the same feature in Apple's Safari and is now enabled by default. It offers new functionality for erasing the most recent web page history and for deleting any traces left by web pages. A feature introduced in beta 1, that of showing small previews of open web pages when switching tabs, has been removed, again following user feedback.

The second beta for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux is available in 54 languages. It is intended for testing, not for production use.


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