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Mozilla releases Firefox 5

Firefox Logo (shadow)
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mozilla has released Firefox 5, the latest version of its popular Web browser for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. The release comes just three months after Mozilla released Firefox 4, and not even a month after the first Firefox 5 beta: the release follows Mozilla’s new rapid-release schedule, which aims to ship a new major version of the browser every three months in order to get new features and technologies to users more quickly.

“The latest version of Firefox includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements that make it easier to discover and use all of the innovative features in Firefox,” Mozilla wrote on its blog. “This release adds support for more modern Web technologies that make it easier for developers to build amazing Firefox Add-ons, Web applications, and Web sites.”

Firefox 5 is available as a free download for Windows 2000 or newer, Mac OS X 10.5 or newer (Intel-only), and LInux—a variety of localizations are already available, and more should be coming soon. Firefox 4 users will start seeing updates rolling out to their systems today; Mozilla will soon extend offers to upgrade for users of Firefox 3.6.

Mozilla is touting Firefox 5 as the first browser to offer cross-platform support for “Do Not Track” functionality, which basically inserts special headers into page-loading requests that ask remote sites not to record any personal information about the visitor—of course, it’s up to the remote sites to actually honor that request). Mozilla also says Firefox 5 fixes several stability and security issues (including cross-domain texture security problems in WebGL content), improved support for HTML5, CSS animations, and performance improvements, including HTTP optimizations and limiting polling frequency of background tabs so scripts there can’t drag down the main tab as badly.

Mozilla’s rapid release schedule is aimed at bringing new features an enhancements to users faster—in part to let the browser keep up with Google Chrome’s rapid release schedule. However, it also means users will be left behind more quickly: Firefox 6 is scheduled for late this summer.

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Geoff Duncan
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