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Mozilla Releases Eighth Firefox 4 Beta

Latest version includes support for graphics rendering in the browser without the use of a third-party plug-in.



Slideshow: Top 12 Firefox Add-Ons
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Mozilla has released its eighth Firefox 4 beta, moving the popular Web browser closer to its final release early next year.

In addition, Mozilla released on Wednesday a beta version of Firefox 4 for devices running Google's Android or Maemo operating systems. Intel and Nokia developed the latter OS.

The latest version of the browser for Windows PCs and Macs includes a streamlined synchronization tool for browsing history, bookmarks, open tabs, and passwords across computers and smartphones. In addition, the latest beta supports WebGL, an open standard for accelerated 3D graphic rendering in the browser without the use of a third-party plug-in.

The latest beta also makes the revamped Firefox add-ons manager available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new manager enables add-ons to be updated automatically.

The mobile version of Firefox is not feature or performance complete. Among the new features in the latest version is the ability to save Web sites as PDFs to read later. The browser also supports copy and paste in the URL bar to reduce the amount of typing needed on a smartphone's keyboard.

Mozilla says features planned for the future include better performance of graphics and JavaScript and improved support for add-ons. Mozilla says it is working with developers to make the gallery of thousands of add-ons compatible with Firefox 4. Third-party add-ons are used to customize the features, look, and functionality of the browser.

Mozilla had planned to release the final version of Firefox 4 in November, but 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.

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