I just updated my current Firefox 3.6 with the new beta Firefox 4.0 it certainly has visible differences. Based on the previous version Firefox 3.7, Mozilla Corporation released for the Mac platform its new beta of Firefox 4.0 (revision 1) earlier last week. The release is with new and improved crash protection and is loaded with several other features, and more to be added when the final product is released, which is set for later.

Feature highlight

Of course, the major highlight is the Crash Protection that is activated automatically during a crash due to Apple Quicktime, Adobe Flash and/or Microsoft Silverlight plugins, enabling an uninterrupted browsing experience. I did not first realize this had happened until I realized the browser automatically refreshed the website with a Flash plug-in, I suppose Flash could have crashed and the new crash protection kicked in without restarting the browser.

What else is new?

They have merged both stop and reload buttons to a single button. At first I found it puzzling since I could not find the refresh arrow key on the browser while a page was loading, but as soon the page was loaded the stop (X) was replaced with the refresh arrow sign. The bookmarks can either be switched to either as a toolbar or a button, which is now set to be default on the new version. Also the History link lookup is done asynchronously so the page can be loaded with better response time and uses lazy frame construction for better rendering. And for my geeky readers, the browser also features new Addons Manager and extension API, new HTML5 parser and HTML5 form controls, native support for HD HTML5 WebM video format, also supports WebSockets and a full WebGL support, which needs to be manually enabled, since it is disabled by default. For the artists out there, the browser’s new plug-ins for Core animation rendering tool model can draw better and efficiently.

To come later and existing issues

The new release currently is only available in English, however will later be available in more languages with the final release. The extension management API UI will be updated before the final release as well. Also new Add-ons will be introduced later and the exciting ones from previous versions have not been fully tested with the new beta version, however users can opt to install the add-on Compatibility Reporter for help test.

The most unsatisfactory of all for me in the new browser is their issue with bookmarks. For users like me who is comfortable having a bookmark toolbar, did find it quite uneasy when by default the version changed the whole bookmark into a button without actually giving me an option while updating. Also there have been instances for the browser to crash if opened with locked profiles. The Firefox team also have reported browser needing a restart once toolbars menu has been customized, especially after updating the bookmark toolbar options.