A few days later than originally expected, Mozilla updated the beta channel earlier today to include the first public beta of the next major version of Firefox, dubbed Firefox 5.0. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux PCs, the new Firefox comes with performance and stability enhancements, as well as support for new CSS animation standards. A detailed list of changes is provided in the Beta channel release notes:
- Added support for CSS animations
- Added support for switching Firefox development channels
- The Do-Not-Track header preference has been moved to increase discoverability
- Improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas
- Improved spell checking for some locales
- Improved desktop environment integration for Linux users
More importantly, the new beta allows users to quickly switch between Aurora, Beta and Stable channels from the About menu of Firefox to “test features at various levels of development, quality and polish.” No visible interface changes made their way into the 5.0 beta, though from a first series of tests the speed and memory optimizations when dealing with dozens of open tabs seem remarkable. Aurora, the new release channel launched by Mozilla a few weeks ago, aims at following the path traced by Google Chrome with the Canary builds in offering users a way to get access to early builds a step above the so-called “nightly” builds. Today’s beta release marks the debut of Firefox 5. in the public beta channel.
Firefox 5.0 beta can be downloaded here.