Firefox 3.6 brings speed improvements, new Personas feature

Firefox fans, start your browsers. On Thursday, Mozilla released Firefox 3.6, the latest update to its popular Web browser, bringing fixes, enhancements, and new features to the Web-surfing masses.

Among the new end-user features in Firefox 3.6 are a theme capability called Personas that allows users to change the look of the browser without having to restart, a Plugin Updater that now detects out-of-date plugins, and form completion that suggests answers for common questions. Mozilla has also improved the stability and speed of the program with better JavaScript performance, faster startup times, and quicker overall responsiveness. Mozilla says Firefox 3.6 is more than 20 percent faster than Firefox 3.5.

In addition, there are a number of under-the-hood enhancements in this release, such as support for the latest HTML5 specification, compatibility with the Web Open Font Format, the addition of CSS gradients, and exposed device orientation so developers can take advantage of which way a device is being held (think primarily mobile devices).

While Firefox 3.6 was originally slated to be a minor update that shipped in November of last year, Mozilla changed its development schedule earlier this month, taking Firefox 3.7, intended to be a more substantial update, off the schedule and beefing up the functionality of 3.6. The next major update is now expected late this year or in 2011.

Firefox 3.6 is a free download for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

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