Second most popular web browser beta gets new look, features

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The Independent Online

Mozilla, maker of the second most popular web browser on the market, Firefox, has announced the much awaited release of the Firefox 4 beta 1.

The free, open source browser has become a favorite with many consumers, but over the past year or so, its market share has remained stagnant. Recent figures have even started to show Firefox losing market share to web browser rival Google Chrome.

Whilst Firefox remains a clear second in the web browser war (Microsoft's Internet Explorer is in first place with just over 60 percent of users), its developers are aware they need to offer new, innovative features to retain their user base.

Mozilla is working hard to keep consumers using the browser, pushing out their beta release earlier than expected and filling it with user-requested features.

The first version of the beta comes with a facelift (currently only for Window PCs) and "dozens of major features and improvements" said Mozilla in a July 6 post on their blog.

Some of the most noticeable improvements include a new add-ons manager, re-arranged tabs (reminiscent of Chrome's tabs layout), HD (HTML5) Video support, privacy improvements, crash protection, and performance enhancements.

Additional releases are expected to be rolled out weekly over the coming year ahead of the official Firefox 4 release.

As with all beta releases, you should download it at your own risk (and expect frequent crashes and bugs if you do) as beta releases rely on users to catch any last minute omissions or faults.

A full list of Firefox 4 features can be found here: