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Mozilla Releases Faster Firefox 4 Beta

Browser speeds page loading and graphics and includes JagerMonkey compiler to boost JavaScript performance.

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Mozilla released Wednesday a new version of Firefox 4 Beta that the company says runs web sites much faster than previous versions of the browser.

The new version provides a significant boost in running JavaScript and displaying graphics, Mozilla said. In addition, the add-on application programming interfaces for Firefox 4 are now stable, which means developers can start updating Firefox 3.6-compatible add-ons to support the upgrade.

The JavaScript performance boost stems from the addition of the JagerMonkey just-in-time compiler and more support for hardware-accelerated graphics, as well as hardware acceleration for Windows XP and Mac OS X. Mozilla says Firefox 4 Beta also includes support for WebGL, a standard technology for running 3D graphics in a browser without the use of a plug-in.

Overall, the improvements mean "pages load faster, interactions with Websites are snappier," Mozilla says in its blog. "For developers, this means you can build richer high-performance Web applications and explore the world of 3D graphics, inherent to the Web."

The JagerMonkey JIT compiler has been added to the Firefox SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine, which also includes enhancements to the existing TraceMonkey JIT and SpiderMonkey's interpreter. The improvements bring a faster startup time and better performance to Web apps and games, Mozilla says. Benchmark tests show the browser runs JavaScript from three to five times faster than Firefox 3.6.

In delivering hardware-accelerated graphics, Firefox 4 Beta takes advantage of DirectX technology in Windows and OpenGL in Mac OS X. However, not all graphics cards or video drivers support hardware acceleration, so the improvements could require an upgrade to work on a particular system.

Mozilla plans to release additional betas before the final version of Firefox 4. The company had planned to release the browser this month. However, development delays pushed back the release to early 2011.

Firefox is the second most used browser on the Web, behind Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft released IE 9 in public beta in September. While the browser adds many needed improvements, IE9 is seen more as catching up with rivals than breaking new ground.

SEE ALSO:

Firefox 4 Delayed

Firefox 4 Previewed

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