Mozilla releases second Firefox 3.1 alpha

Added features include support for a new video tag element introduced with the HTML 5 standard, along with some speed enhancements.

The Mozilla Corporation has released an advance testing version of its popular Firefox Web browser, just days after Google revealed its competing Chrome software.

The second alpha of Firefox 3.1 was made available overnight. The software, code-named Shiretoko, is at this stage intended for software developers and testers only, with the stable and recommended version of Firefox being 3.0.1.

Firefox logo

In a statement, Mozilla said the testing version of Firefox introduced several new features, including the browser's highly anticipated support for a new video tag element introduced with the HTML 5 standard to provide more functionality around the amount of video that is increasingly being delivered through Web browsers.

In addition, Shiretoko allows users to drag and drop tabs between browser windows, improves performance in some areas and provides better integration with Windows Vista's Aero 'Glass' theme for those wanting to add extra themes on top of Firefox.

The new software also adds some speed enhancements to the browser, particularly in the area of JavaScript handling, which was one area Google highlighted as being a strength of the Chrome browser it launched this week, also in testing form.

Mozilla is planning to integrate a faster JavaScript engine, dubbed TraceMonkey, into Firefox. However the organization noted that technology was not included in the software released overnight, although it could be tested by following a set of instructions posted online.

The alpha release of Firefox 3.1 can be downloaded from Mozilla's Web site.

Renai LeMay of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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