Mozilla has promised an accelerated development schedule for Firefox and they’re delivering. Like Chrome, which offers stable, beta and dev channel releases, Firefox now comes in three versions, as well, with Firefox 5 the current stable release.
And, here’s Firefox 6 beta (release notes). For me, the most notable improvement is faster start up — about four seconds for the beta and roughly six seconds for Firefox 5.
During this abbreviated start up, Firefox 6′s Add-ons Manager with Plug-in Check briefly appears — I only use three plug-ins/addons, but this feature will likely be welcomed by those that have installed a boatload.
New, updated feature list:
• Add-ons Manager with Plugin Check: Check that your plugins are up-to-date directly from the Add-ons Manager
• Improved Panorama Groups: Reduces browser startup time by only loading saved tab groups when you use Panorama
• Improved Address Bar: Highlights the domain name of the website you’re visiting to make it easy to identify where you are online
• Streamlined site identity block
• Support for Web Sockets with a prefixed API
• Moveable Web Console
• New Web developer-specific menu
• Window.matchMedia API
• Support for server-sent events
When a new version of a browser ships, I like to throw the HTML5 Browser Test at it to see how it stacks up against other mainline browsers. Thereupon, Firefox 6 beta scores 312 out of 450, which is about 30 points higher than Firefox 5 and compares well with current test leader Chrome 13′s 330 score.
Get your copy of Mozilla Firefox 6 beta 1 here (28.6MB). If you prefer living life on the edge, check out the Firefox Aurora channel, where Mozilla engineers are currently working to improve memory use and performance.