Firefox 3.1 to offer private browsing mode, too

Private browsing modes seem to be all the rage lately. Microsoft drew a fair amount of publicity around the InPrivate feature when Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 came out in August, and Google subsequently matched Microsoft with its Chrome browser's Incognito mode. Apple's Safari has already had a private browsing option for some time, so where does that leave Firefox?

To be fair, Firefox users have been able to disable the browser's history, cookies, and cache temporarily using third party add-ons for some time. According to CNet News, however, Mozilla plans to build similar functionality into its next major browser release—Firefox 3.1. The private mode in the new Firefox will take care of not only history, cookies, and cache, but also saved passwords and downloads from the Download Manager.

Unlike IE8 and Chrome, Firefox 3.1 won't draw up any "neon advertising" to announce that the private status is on. The browser should also make it easier to switch back and forth into the mode. When the user calls for a private session, the browser will save the latest non-private session (tabs and all) and open a new, blank window. When the user switches private mode off, Firefox 3.1 will restore the previous session.

Firefox 3.1 will have some improvements under the hood, too. Mozilla is working to speed up the browser's JavaScript engine substantially—so much so that Mozilla claims it will outperform Google Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine overall.

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