Mozilla finally launches next Firefox beta

Mozilla has finally released Firefox 3.1 Beta 3, the long-delayed update that the company claims offers improvements to the new JavaScript engine and private browsing tools.

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Mozilla has finally released Firefox 3.1 Beta 3, the long-delayed update that the company claims offers improvements to the new JavaScript engine and private browsing tools.

Two weeks ago, Mozilla executives promised to move forward on the stalled Beta 3 even if developers weren't able to patch a troublesome bug in the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. To compensate, they added a fourth beta to the schedule. Beta 4 is currently planned for release on 14 April.

According to Mozilla's Bugzilla problem-tracking database, the TraceMonkey flaw that held up Beta 3 has not yet been fixed.

As it always does, Mozilla warned users that the beta is a preliminary version for testing purposes. "Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 is a public preview release intended for developer testing and community feedback," Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox, said in an entry to the company's developer blog. On the download page, it got even more specific: "This is pre-release software: you may encounter compatibility problems with some websites and add-ons."

Of the extensions that make up 95% of add-on usage, just 45% are currently up-to-date with the latest version of Firefox 3.1, while another 34% are compatible with an earlier beta version of 3.1, according to Mozilla.

Beta 3 features improvements to Firefox's "Private Browsing Mode," a set of tools that debuted in December 2008 when Mozilla issued Beta 2. Now, however, users can selectively tell the browser to "forget" specific already-visited Web sites from the History sidebar by right-clicking and choosing "Forget About This Site."

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