Second Firefox 3.1 beta released

Thinking of switching to Google Chrome for the mind-blowing browsing speed? Hold that thought. Mozilla has released the second beta version of Firefox 3.1, offering the first public preview of its speedier JavaScript rendering engine (as well as a handful of other new features). You can download the beta right here, although current Firefox users may want to back up their user profiles first.

According to the official release notes, this latest beta brings the following additions:

  • Added a new Private Browsing Mode.
  • Added functions to make it easy to clear recent history by time as well as remove all traces of a website.
  • New support for web worker threads.
  • The new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine is on by default for web content.
  • Improvements to the Gecko layout engine, including speculative parsing for faster content rendering.
  • Removed the new tab-switching behavior based on feedback from users
  • Support for new web technologies such as the <video> and <audio> elements, the W3C Geolocation API, JavaScript query selectors, CSS 2.1 and 3 properties, SVG transforms and offline applications. More information.
  • TraceMonkey does seem to improve performance considerably. On our Core 2 Duo-powered Windows Vista test system, Firefox 3.1 beta 2 managed to chew through the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in just 1745.6 ms—more than twice as fast as Firefox 3.0.4's 3887.8 ms score. Still, Firefox remains a tad behind Chrome, which completed the test in only 1631.8 ms. (Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the tip.)

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