Firefox 3.6 Beta Boosts Speed, Adds Features

After promises of an early release, a "test build" teaser, and then an unexpected delay, Firefox 3.6 beta is finally available for download. You can grab a copy for the PC, Mac and Linux on the Mozilla Web site.

On top of promised features such as faster javascript handling, outdated plug-ins check, and bookmark synchronization, Mozilla pushed out more enhancements:

•   Browser appearance modifications using Personas.
•   Open, native video can now be displayed full screen, and supports poster frames.
•   Support for the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).
•   Amped-up browser responsiveness and start-up time.
•   Support for new CSS, DOM and HTML5 web technologies.

Firefox 3.6 beta -- emphasis on beta -- is built on the Gecko 1.9.2 Web rendering engine. Gecko is a layout engine that gets along well with Web developers, add-on developers and users. Gecko was created by Mozilla and its latest iteration seems meant for the latest Firefox.

One of the biggest perks of Firefox as a whole is the ability to tinker underneath the hood, and Mozilla appears excited to assist developers in the process of improving its browser with a special Web site devoted to the process.

However, there are numerous flaws. I tinkered with Firefox 3.6 beta for the Mac and was disappointed. While the browser certainly loaded faster and dexterously opened pages, I did not see the Vista-ish theme I was looking forward to, and when I tried altering the browser's appearance with Personas, I got this fun little message:

If Mozilla is going to promise improvements, it should follow through.

Mac users who aren't keen on Safari have been stuck with Firefox for quite some time. The browser is steady, reliable and has been a staple on my MacBook for ages. However, the moment Google Chrome is released for the Mac -- after what has felt like an eternity hearing about its mind-blowing speed -- my loyalty to Mozilla will be quickly replaced by my adoration for Google.

Follow Brennon on Twitter: @neonmadman

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