Firefox 4 Inches Toward Final Release with New Beta 12
It’s been a long time coming, but Firefox 4 has finally reached the end of its beta testing phase. Mozilla has released Firefox 4 beta 12, which, according to the Firefox 4 roadmap, will be the last beta release.
Sadly, that doesn’t mean Firefox 4 is done yet. Although Firefox 4 is already some months past its original release date, there will still be at least one release candidate before Firefox 4 is declared final later this year.
To download the latest Firefox 4 update, head over to the Firefox beta downloads page.
Beta 12 is primarily a bug fix release and clears most of the major remaining bugs that were blocking the release of Firefox 4. Aside from bug fixes, the most noticeable change in this release is the return of the status bar — sort of.
Early in the beta release cycle, Mozilla removed the status bar — the toolbar at the bottom of the browser window that shows you what the browser is doing — replacing it with an “add-ons bar.” Perhaps the most useful part of the status bar, link URL previews, were moved up to the URL bar. As we mentioned in a post about how to bring back the status bar, the change made Firefox the only web browser that didn’t show a URL preview at the bottom of the page when you hovered over a link.
Thankfully, someone at Mozilla has seen the light and returned the URL preview to its proper place. The status bar is still, technically, gone, but a new link preview bar appears whenever you hover over a link. Firefox’s new floating URL preview bar is identical to what you’ll see in Google Chrome and the coming Internet Explorer 9 — in this case copying the competition is a good thing.
Other minor tweaks in the new beta include better performance for Flash content and improved plugin compatibility with the new hardware acceleration features enabled.
Mozilla still has not set a final release date for Firefox 4, though the roadmap suggest a release candidate build will be coming soon. Assuming all is well with that release, it’s possible we’ll see the final release of Firefox 4 before the end of March.