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Monday July 11, 2011 6:27 pm

Firefox 7 in early Aurora testing, Firefox 6 now in beta

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Internet, PC / Laptop, Software

Firefox 7In its emulation of Google Chrome's quick release schedule, version 7 of Firefox has already appeared in Mozilla's Aurora incubation channel, while version 6 has moved to beta.

Neither version brings the kind of major changes we've become used to in full version number upgrades of Firefox, but they do add welcome performance boosts, standards support, and minor interface and functional tweaks.

Under Mozilla's new Rapid Release calendar, new versions of Firefox will come out every six weeks; this way you'll know it's time for a haircut when a new Firefox version appears. Firefox 6 is scheduled to be ready for release on August 16, while version 7 will move to the beta channel on the same day. Version 7 then moves to the release channel on September 27, at which time Version 8 goes to beta. You get the picture.

Note that the release dates pertain to Firefox for Android as well to the Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop versions, though the mobile browser gets different features than the desktop version in each release.

Developers are the main beneficiaries of Firefox 6, but end users do get a few perks: Like Interenet Explorer 9 and Chrome, the browser now highlights the domain name of the site you're visiting in the address bar, making the base site more obvious for long URL strings. The Add-ons manager gets an improvement, too: it will let you check whether your plug-ins are up to date. Firefox's innovative tab manager, Panorama, will get a haircut, only loading tab groups you've saved at startup.

For developers, Version 6 brings a JavaScript scratchpad, support for Web Sockets with a prefixed API, a new Web developer-specific menu, and a moveable Web console, new media querying, and server-sent events—"a new and simplified way to open long-lived connections to a server."

Version 7 will focus on performance and memory use. It will address two perennial complaints about Firefox—that it takes longer than any other browser to start up, and that it can be a memory hog. Mozilla claims that "For many users, memory use is reduced by 30 percent or more, responsiveness is enhanced." The current Aurora resident will also sync bookmarks and passwords instantly, and improve font rendering. Developers get a few new capabilities again in version 7, including user telemetry, and support for w3c Web navigation timing spec.

Firefox 5 was released in late June; Firefox 4 made its debut on March 22.

You can try out version 7 for yourself on the Aurora channel and version 6 on the Beta channel, both of which can be downloaded form Mozilla's Future of Firefox page.

This article, written by Michael Muchmore, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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