Firefox 4.0 beta 4 brings Direct2D acceleration

A new beta release of Firefox 4.0 has hit the web, and this one is a biggie. Alongside browser sync and a cool new tab management feature, the new beta adds support for Direct2D hardware acceleration in Windows—just like in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9. Mozilla has left the acceleration disabled by default, but enabling it doesn't take much effort.

All you need to do is download and install the new beta, back up your profile if you're using a previous version of Firefox, and change two settings in the about:config page as directed here. Restart the browser, and you're done. Web content should now be rendered in hardware, and font rendering will probably look slightly funky.

Hardware acceleration may make regular browsing a wee bit snappier, and it's particularly noticeable in demos like Microsoft's Canvas Zoom and Mozilla's live photo resizer, which are silky smooth with acceleration enabled... and choppy without. Many other demos from the IE9 page work just fine in Firefox 4 beta 4, as well. (Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the tip.)

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