Major performance changes mark Firefox 7 beta

Significant performance improvements are the hallmark of the latest Firefox beta for desktops and Android, which graduate on the heels of Firefox 6's wide-audience release.

Two days after Mozilla delivered Firefox 6 to its wide-release stable channel, Firefox 7 and its much-anticipated spate of better memory management and reduced load times got promoted from the developer's Aurora build to the Beta channel. You can download Firefox 7 Beta for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

(Credit: Mozilla)

The performance improvements are the first major performance changes for Firefox after a summer of complaints from a small yet vocal minority that was experiencing severe memory leaks and crashes. The company is anticipating around a 30 percent gain in performance that derives from changes to the JavaScript garbage collector, implementing Azure Direct2D for Canvas, and adding developer support for a Web timing specification and a CSS3 Text-Overflow option. Password and bookmark changes and additions made in Firefox Sync will synchronize faster, too, according to Mozilla.

If you wish to contribute performance data on Firefox to Mozilla, there's a new add-on called Telemetry (download from Mozilla add-on site) that chips in your experiences to Firefox developers.

Many of the same changes made in the desktop version have been made to the Firefox Beta for Android. These include the optimized memory use, restoring session history and tabs, changes to Firefox Sync, copy and paste from mobile Web sites, and enhanced language detection for localization.

For people who don't like some of Firefox's recent changes to the address bar, I just discovered that there are two new entries in the about:config menu. In Firefox 7 and above, you can force the page's protocol to always be displayed by changing browser.urlbar.trimURLs to False. In Firefox 6 and above, you can disable domain name highlighting by changing browser.urlbar.formatting.enabled to False, too.

If Mozilla sticks to the current release schedule, Firefox 7 will reach the stable channel and thus the majority of Firefox users on September 27.

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