Mozilla has released a new beta version of Firefox 4, as the next major update for the popular web browser nears completion. Firefox 4 beta 9 is primarily a bug fix release, though there a couple of small new features.
If you’d like to take Beta 9 for spin on your desktop, head over to the Mozilla beta downloads page. It’s been a very long development cycle for Firefox 4 — the final version isn’t likely to arrive until the end of February — however, the enhancements being made over versions 3.5 and 3.6 are substantial.
Fortunately for early adopters the beta releases are stable enough to use in day-to-day browsing, so it’s not like we’re waiting a long time for nothing. We can reap the rewards well before the official release date.
On the Windows platform, beta 9 now ships with the tabs-in-the-title-bar feature we covered earlier this month. Firefox 4 beta 9 also includes support for IndexedDB, which allows approved sites to store data on your computer for offline use. Other improvements include an overhaul of the bookmarks and history code, enabling faster bookmarking and improving Firefox’s startup performance.
The best news for those eagerly awaiting the final release of Firefox 4 is that beta 9 has squashed some 660 bugs. Indeed, beta 9 is among the fastest and stablest betas we’ve used, but it’s still not ready for prime time. Problems remain with the new tab-sorting interface — dubbed “Panorama” — and there are enough other small problems that it looks like we’ll see a beta 10 before Firefox 4 is official.
So far Mozilla is sticking to its “when it’s ready” slogan and has not set a final release date for Firefox 4. With the latest nightly builds already renamed to beta 10, you can expect one more beta. After that there will be at least one release candidate, which pushes the final release of Firefox 4 well into February.