After the wildly successful launch of Firefox 4 not all that long ago, it’s hard to believe the next iteration of Mozilla’s popular and free open source browser is already here. Mozilla today delivered the final version of Firefox 5, the first edition under the new faster-release regime it kicked off earlier this year.
The company also patched 10 bugs in Firefox 5, including one in the browser’s handling of the WebGL 3-D rendering standard that rival Microsoft has called unsafe.
Shortly after Mozilla launched Firefox 4 in March, the company committed to a faster release schedule that puts the browser on a six-week refresh cycle that lets developers add features as they’re completed, rather than hold them until all work on the next upgrade is completed. If a feature presents problems, it’s yanked and re-inserted into a later cycle after fixes have been applied. Mozilla has denied copying Google Chrome’s upbeat schedule — that browser was the first to institute a fast- release strategy — but analysts have noted the similarities and pointed out the need of all browser makers to step up the pace.
Firefox 5’s user interface is nearly identical to Firefox 4, for instance.Mozilla also dropped a feature it had touted during the testing phase, dumping a tool that let users change development channels from, say, the final to either Beta or Aurora, rougher builds that precede the most stable edition. The company decided that few were using the channel switcher, and rather than devote time and resources to maintaining the feature, pulled it.
1. It Respects Your Privacy
Mozilla’s Do Not Track feature gives users more control over the way their browsing behavior is tracked and used on the Web by allowing them to tell the websites they visit that they want to opt out of online behavioral tracking. Now, in Firefox 5, Do Not Track is even easier to find in the Firefox Preferences section. Also of note is that Firefox 5 for Android includes the Do Not Track feature as well, making Firefox the first browser to support Do Not Track on multiple platforms, Mozilla says.
2. It’s Small and Fast
3. It Supports an Open Web
With improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL and canvas, Firefox 5 is the best browser choice for an open Web. The new Firefox Add-on SDK for Windows, Mac and Linux enables local development of add-ons, meanwhile, and the Firefox Add-on Builder Beta provides a hosted Web-based build environment. The new version of the multiplatform software also adds support for CSS animations.
4. It Sports 1000 Improvements
It’s actually more than 1000 improvements and performance enhancements that have been included in Firefox 5. They may not all be huge, noticeable user-interface changes, but they definitely make the software better. The Android version of Firefox 5, meanwhile, includes a raft of bug fixes, improved page load speeds–especially on 3G networks–and added IPv6 support.
5. It’s Secure, Independent and User-Driven
Firefox is open source software, which means it’s not only developed with the help of users, but its security is continuously monitored and improved by a global community of users and developers. Mozilla, meanwhile, is an independent foundation. There’s no way a proprietary browser maker like Microsoft — or even a company like Google, which has its fingers everywhere — can compete with that independence and user focus.
Firefox clearly faces stiff competition from Google’s Chrome, but further improvements are on the way in Firefox 6 and beyond. You can download it here and see for yourself.
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