With the release of Firefox 4 Beta 7, Mozilla returned to near the top spot in browser performance rankings.
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On Wednesday Mozilla launched Firefox 4 Beta 7, a preview that includes all the features slated to make it into the final, polished version next year.
Three of the five major browsers were closely bunched at the top. Opera 11 Alpha, which the Norwegian company released last month, barely edged Firefox 4 Beta 7, which in turn narrowly beat the beta of Google's Chrome 8.
Meanwhile, results for Apple's Safari and Microsoft's beta of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) put that pair significantly behind the top three. For example, Firefox 4 Beta 7 was approximately 25 percent faster than IE9 Beta in the trials.
In two of the three tests, Firefox 4 Beta 7 proved three times faster than Firefox 3.6.12, the current production build. (Mozilla said V8's results showed Firefox 4 was five times faster than 3.6.12.)
"We knew we needed another major upgrade for Firefox 4 to make us fast all around," said David Mandelin, a Mozilla engineer who worked on JagerMonkey, in a September blog post that Mozilla cited yesterday.
Among other changes to Firefox 4 in Beta 7 were hardware acceleration in both Windows and Mac OS X, support for the WebGL 3D graphics standard, and support for the OpenType font format.
For the first time, Firefox now accelerates aspects of content rendering and page composition when running in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Window 7, as well as in Mac OS X.