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An Early Look at the Next Version of Firefox

Mozilla hopes to release Firefox 4 in October or November, a new version that has speed among its top goals.

"Performance is a huge, huge, huge thing for us," said Mike Beltzner, vice president of engineering for Firefox, in a Webcast on Tuesday about plans for the browser. "We created the performance story, and we've got to keep at it."

Among other features planned for Firefox 4--and Mozilla emphatically cautions that plans can change--are support for high-speed graphics and text through Direct2D on Windows; a tidier user interface with more prominent and poweful tabs; support for several newer Web technologies; 64-bit versions; and compatibility with multitouch interfaces.

Performance means any number of things in a browser. Among them: the time it takes to launch the program or to load a Web page, the responsiveness of the user interface to commands such as opening new tabs, and the speed with which Web-based JavaScript programs execute. Firefox programmers also will work on more perceptual speed improvements, Beltzner said, such as changing the order that Web page elements appear on the screen and the appearance of the page-loading progress bar.

Mozilla's Firefox 4 design shows tabs above the address bar and a home-page button replaced by a home tab.
Mozilla's Firefox 4 design shows tabs above the address bar and a home-page button replaced by a home tab. Mozilla

Speed is one item on a long list of changes Mozilla has in mind for its five-year-old open-source Firefox browser. Improving Firefox is arguably a greater challenge now, though, for several reasons.

You can read the rest of this article at CNET News.com.

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