Firefox 5 Release Candidates Debut

Faster performance and better standards support are among the improvements in these last, pre-final releases

The Mozilla Project on Wednesday rolled out release candidate versions of its Firefox 5 browser for both desktops and mobile, marking the last iterations before the final versions debut.

Labeled as the seventh beta version, the desktop software was released into the project's beta development channel as part of Mozilla's new rapid release development process. The mobile version for Android was released simultaneously. Both are available for download from the project's "Future of Firefox" page.

After entering beta last month, the final version of Firefox 5 will be unleashed on Tuesday, June 21. Firefox 6, meanwhile, is expected to arrive in August.

Increased 'Discoverability'

Since software release candidates are typically more or less identical to the final versions that follow them, this last, pre-final desktop version offers a revealing sneak peek at what we can expect to see next week.

At the top of the list of new additions, for example, is added support for CSS animations, which make it possible to animate transitions from one CSS style configuration to another.

Firefox's Do Not Track header preference, meanwhile, has been moved "to increase discoverability," the project's developers note.

Performance has been improved in canvas, JavaScript, memory and networking, while there's also improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL and canvas.

Better Desktop Environment Integration

For Linux users, the Firefox 5 release candidate offers better desktop environment integration, while spell-checking has also been improved for some locales.

Background tabs now load more quickly, and WebGL content is no longer allowed to load cross-domain textures.

Finally, because Mozilla has noticed that "very few users actually want to switch back and forth between different levels of stability and feature support for a single Firefox install," as Director of Firefox Development Johnathan Nightingale recently put it, the Firefox development channel switcher introduced in previous Firefox beta updates has been removed.

More details are available in the software's release notes.

Firefox 5 for Android

New in the Android release candidate of Firefox 5, meanwhile, are a raft of bug fixes, improved page load speeds--especially on 3G networks--and added IPv6 support. A full list can be found in the release notes for the mobile version.

Bottom line? Firefox 5 is going to be a better, faster browser that supports future-Web technologies such as HTML5 better.

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Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
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