Updated 3:56 p.m. PDT to include details about the fourth beta and upcoming Firefox 3.5
Mozilla on Thursday released the third beta version of Firefox 3.1, aka Shiretoko, one of the frontrunners in the current race to improve Web browsers.
According to the Firefox 3.1b3 release notes, the new version includes better "Web worker" multitasking abilities, a faster Gecko rendering engine for showing Web pages, and upgrades to the . (Follow these links to download Firefox 3.1b3 for Windows and Mac OS X.)
Mozilla earlier expected the third beta version to be the final beta, but those plans changed. Because of the magnitude of the changes in the 3.1 betas, the next full release will be numbered 3.5. A fourth beta, 3.5b4 is planned, too, followed by the release-candidate cycle, before the final version 3.5 is released, Mozilla said.
"The increase in version number is proposed due to the sheer volume of work which makes Shiretoko feel like much more than a small, incremental improvement over Firefox 3: TraceMonkey, video tag and player support, improvements to user controls over data privacy, significant improvements in the web layout and rendering platform, and much more," said Mozilla's Mike Beltzner in a blog post last week.
Here's Mozilla's full list of improvements in the new beta:
Improved the new Private Browsing Mode.
Improvements to Web worker thread support.
New native JSON support.
Improvements to the Gecko layout engine, including speculative parsing for faster content rendering.
It's a beta, and there are problems such as an issue where Gmail hangs, so be careful about installing it.