Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.6 Beta

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Mozilla has released the beta version of version 3.6 its Firefox web browser, adding some fairly interesting new options to the mix and improving performance along the way.

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For day-to-day browsing, the biggest change you’re likely to notice is the general improvement in performance since the Gecko 1.9.3 rendering engine has now been brought into play. That said, the performance increases, long the most interesting facet of new builds of Firefox, are fairly soundly eclipsed in this latest build by the introduction of a feature called “Personas.”

For those who haven’t been following things too closely, Firefox’s Personas are, to use the company’s own description, “… lightweight, easy-to-install and easy-to-change ‘skins’ for your Firefox web browser.” While it’s certainly an elegant thought, we’re impressed by both the implementation and the quality of the personas themselves. Moreover, the ability to quickly slip a “persona” on and off means that it’s not as daunting as skinning Firefox used to be.

The whole thing is a little reminiscent of Google’s skins for its Chrome web browser, which makes the whole skinning business relatively quick and easy. Of course, to have Firefox’s extensions and a pretty, simple option to skin the browser likely won’t be tempting anyone away from Chrome, but it could well be enough to distract people from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 and Apple’s Safari 4, both of which are a little lacking in the customisability stakes.

As we’d discussed in a previous post, Firefox 3.6 also makes the move of informing users when their plugins aren’t all up to date, which is all well and good, but for now we don’t know just how much of a headache installation is. If it’s unchanged from previous versions then it seems likely that the biggest difference now will be that more users are aware that their plugins are out of date…

Laziness, sadly, beats security quite often, even for the best of us. That’s why my “up to date backup” is now more than a month old.

You can grab the new version of Firefox and have a bit of a read about the changes you can expect to find in it over at the Mozilla Blog for Firefox 3.6.

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