Following a year of development and several schedule slippages, Mozilla will release the final version of Firefox 4.0 later today at GetFirefox.com. If you can’t wait, I’m going to let you in on a little secret … Firefox 4.0 is already available to download from Mozilla’s FTP servers. Don’t tell anyone else!
We’ve been using Firefox 3.x for a long time. Version 3.0 was released in June 2008, 3.5 arrived a year later, and 3.6 came out in January 2010. The browser has begun to look a little dated following rise of Chrome, Opera’s new interface, and IE9’s release last week. Firefox may remain the top browser for development, but its speed has been criticized and many users have switched to Chrome.
Firefox 4.0 could redress the situation. It includes:
- A new, streamlined user interface.
- Application tabs and tab grouping.
- Built-in bookmark, open tabs, history, preferences and password synchronization.
- Improved privacy controls and security.
- Improved HTML5 capabilities such as new form elements, high-definition hardware-accelerated WebM video and 3D WebGL.
- CSS3 transitions and transformations.
- A revamped add-ons manager.
- Multi-touch for some touchscreen devices.
- A new web console.
- Crash protection.
What’s more, it’s available in more than 70 languages and can be installed on most operating systems. Including Windows XP.
Obviously, another browser means more effort for web developers. However, you can install v3.6 and v4.0 side-by-side, you’re unlikely to experience radical rendering differences and, with luck, Mozilla will push Firefox 4.0 out as an automated update within a few weeks.
Will you install Firefox 4.0? Will it help the browser increase its market share? Or is it too little, too late? Watch out for a full review on SitePoint soon…
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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