First Beta Version of Firefox 4 Web Browser Now Available

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Popular open source web browser, Firefox, has just hit the early stages of its fourth iteration, aptly called Firefox 4. The beta version is available for download and “gives an early look at what’s planned for Firefox 4,” according to a company blog post.

The most notable change from past Firefox versions is a new visual layout, which places tabs above the address bar similar to how Google’s Chrome web browser is laid out. This can be changed back to the old style layout for Firefox users who don’t take to the new look and feel right away.

Other features include hardware accelerated HTML5 video, crash protection wherein a single crashed plugin won’t take out the entire browser and can be fixed ” by simply refreshing the page,” and a focus on improving browser startup and page load times.

In my own initial testing, Firefox 4 Beta 1 definitely feels a bit faster than Firefox 3 but still feels slow in comparison to Google Chrome. WebWorkerDaily ran some formal tests and found the same to be true. The web browser is still in its early phases, though, so there’s plenty of time for the Mozilla team to tweak what’s going on under the hood.

According to the blog post, the team plans “to release new beta versions every two to three weeks.”

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