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On Friday, Mozilla released Fennec Alpha 3 for Windows Mobile, the latest in Mozilla's effort to put its Firefox browser on a mobile phone. As with Fennec 1.0 beta 3 for the Maemo platform found on some Nokia Internet Tablets, Fennec for Windows Mobile makes changes to the mobile browser's theme, and its scrolling and panning performance.

In particular, it's using what's called a tile cache rendering system to hold onto the part of the screen that has already been rendered. As you scroll and pan around, it should take less time to refresh the screen, since Fennec won't be downloading the same content afresh. This is the same type of technology used in Google Maps.

In addition, Mozilla says it has increased Fennec's start-up time, though you'll need to reboot the Windows Mobile phone for the difference to take effect. Swiping along the edge of the directional pad on the HTC Touch Pro now controls zooming. In the meantime, Fennec now supports more screen resolutions for any other Windows Mobile phone, so it could potentially look better on your device.

While Mozilla has no hard date set for completing Fennec 1.0 for Windows Mobile (which in all probability, could be called Firefox for Windows Mobile when it's done) it has set a target time for releasing Fennec on the Maemo platform in Q4, which brings us to before the end of December. This fits the timeline of Mozilla's open design competition for the company's Firefox for Mobile campaign, which will cut off voting on October 7, 2009.

Fennec Alpha 3 for Windows Mobile is ready to try for your Windows Mobile phone and can be downloaded from this CAB file. Remember that as an unstable alpha release, you may encounter bugs and other issues. For more details about what's new, you can find Mozilla's release notes here.

Related story: Firefox Mobile' updates for Windows Mobile

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.