Mozilla Firefox is among the most popular browsers on the Web, and a favourite among Digit readers. So even when it comes out with a tiny beta update for its latest version, we feel compelled to pop open some bubbly and write about it.
Firefox 3.6 Beta build 1 is now officially available for download from Mozilla’s servers. The direct link to the 7.9MB installer can be found here.
Mozilla’s developers are throwing in the usual warnings: “A beta is indeed available, but I would like to clarify that the Beta programme for Firefox 3.6 has not yet launched; this is a test build, not necessarily Firefox 3.6 Beta 1.”
SOME NEW FEATURES
“The start-up from a cold boot has gotten much faster – still not as fast as IE or Google Chrome, but it is no longer a noticeable delay.
“A small preview pane, much like what you would get with Alt Tab in Windows, shows up with all your tabs in it. Quite handy, but not a feature that wowed us given that other extensions were already doing this.”
WINDOWS 7 SUPPORT
With Windows 7 ready to release on October 22, Mozilla has also thrown in some love for Microsoft’s latest operating system in this release, adding support for Windows 7 jump lists and preview panes in the taskbar. Kshitij has already noted this feature in his report on the FireFox 3.7 nightly build:
“For those who missed the news, in Windows 7, some applications can now show their tabs directly on the Windows task bar, allowing for easier tab management. On a personal note, I absolutely hate this feature: Applications added tabs to reduce the clutter on the task bar, and Windows now find a way to sneak them in nonetheless!
“To be fair, windows management has improved a lot over time, especially with Windows 7. However, for someone with as many as 30 to 50 tabs open any given time, tab previews won’t be of much use
“Yet I understand how this can be useful to some or many...”
Another interesting addition in Firefox 3.6 is the ability to detect the orientation of the device it is being used on, by making use of the machine’s accelerometer to render Web pages that support the same. A lot of modern laptops and MacBooks come with accelerometers built in, and the new browser can detect whether it is moving or held in landscape or portrait mode – a feature particularly useful for reading e-books on the Web or Web gaming.
“Originally built as something that we would include for our upcoming mobile browser release, we’ve made it available on desktop systems as well. Many modern Macbooks and Thinkpads contain devices and drivers that expose this information. We’ve added support for Linux, Macs and some Thinkpads where drivers and devices are available,” wrote Mozilla developer Christopher Blizzard.
Here’s a short video demonstrating the same: