Mozilla, which launched the latest beta of Firefox 4 last week, has started to drop features from the still-under-construction browser.
Firefox 4 Beta 5, which shipped Sept. 7, included support for a new audio API (application programming interface) that allows developers to tap raw audio data from within the browser, as well as support for HTTP Strict Transport Security, a Web security protocol that lets site designers force Firefox to automatically use a secure connection.
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The latter is meant to help stymie "man-in-the-middle" attacks, in which hackers essentially eavesdrop on users' Web traffic -- most often at public Wi-Fi hotspots -- in the hope of snatching clear-language transmission of passwords or credit card numbers.
Firefox 4 also switched on Windows hardware acceleration by default in Beta 5; Mozilla had included the technology in August's Beta 4, but had left it turned off, requiring users to edit the browser's "about:config" file if they wanted to try it out.
Firefox 4, like rival Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), relies on Windows' Direct2D API to boost browser performance by shifting some chores from a computer's central processor to the graphics processor.
The hardware acceleration switched on in Beta 5 requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; the more popular Windows XP lacks the necessary graphics infrastructure, a fact that's prompted Microsoft to drop XP from IE9's supported operating systems.
Mozilla isn't going to that extreme. Although Firefox 4 won't boost content rendering in Windows XP, Mozilla does plan to increase the speed of "compositing" -- the process of assembling the various pieces of a site -- in the nine-year-old operating system by leveraging the Direct3D API in a future preview.
But as Mozilla's self-imposed deadline for building a feature-complete beta nears, the company has also started dumping features it once hoped to squeeze into the upgrade.
First to go was Account Manager, which Mozilla ditched late last month.