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Mozilla posts first Firefox 3.1 b2 release candidate build

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Mozilla posts first Firefox 3.1 b2 release candidate build

Mozilla is close to be releasing a major update for its Firefox 3 browser. The release candidate of Firefox 3.1 appeared earlier today and is, as far as we can see, pretty much finished. The actual release of the browser should only be a matter of days.

Chicago (IL) – Mozilla is close to be releasing a major update for its Firefox 3 browser. The release candidate of Firefox 3.1 appeared earlier today and is, as far as we can see, pretty much finished. The actual release of the browser should only be a matter of days.

 

SLIDESHOW:

Firefox 3.1 Private browsing (5 pictures)

One of our eagle-eyed readers, Andrew Isaak, noticed that the nightly builds folder in Mozilla’s Firefox FTP directory showed a significant software update this morning. Mozilla quietly posted the first release candidate build of Firefox 3.1 beta 2 on its FTP server. This browser uses the regular Firefox branding and not Minefield anymore. It also appears to have all the features promised by Mozilla and is, according to TG Daily’s first tests, stable.

Most importantly, the browser comes with the (activated) Tracemonkey JavaScript acceleration engine, which speeds up the browser page load performance dramatically and shows its full capability in cloud service applications. While most performance tests still see Google Chrome in the lead, it is difficult to see a performance differences between Chrome and Firefox in average web browsing. However, differences between Chrome/Firefox 3.1/Safari 4 are obvious when compared to Microsoft’s IE8 beta 2.

Mozilla has also improved Firefox 3.1 in terms of web standards compliance. The new browser scores 93 points in the Acid3 test, up from 87 in Firefox 3.1 beta 1. Safari 4 recently scored 100 points and Opera 9.62 99. IE 8 beta 2 trails the pack with 21.    

Noteworthy new features in Firefox 3.1 include private browsing, often referred to as porn mode, as well enhancements in privacy and tab handling as well as memory management. The overall look and feel of the software appears to be final to us.

A release around December 1 would make sense to coincide with another significant announcement for Firefox we expect to hear right around that time: Firefox has been consistently gaining market share over the course of this month, according to Net Applications. The browser only dipped on seven days below the 20% market share mark and has been above 20% for the past seven days. The average market share number now points to about 20.5%, which would be a huge gain by itself, but it would be also the first time Firefox’ market share is estimated at more than 20%.