Mozilla launches Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 with 'Private Browsing'

Company switches on speedy TraceMonkey engine, adds privacy mode

Mozilla Monday released Firefox 3.1 Beta 2, the first version of its flagship browser to turn on a much faster JavaScript engine and sport a working privacy mode.

Following the first beta by about eight weeks, the newest preview switches on TraceMonkey, the JavaScript engine Mozilla initially touted back in August. Beta 1 included the new engine, but it had been disabled by default; users were required to manually edit the browser's configuration file to turn on the engine.

Also present in Beta 2 is "Private Browsing," the privacy mode that Mozilla decided to add in September, but didn't make add to a test build until early last month.

Private Browsing was a reaction to similar additions in other browsers, including Apple Inc.'s Safari, Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8. Privacy mode lets users surf without leaving obvious traces of where they've been, which has led to the feature being dubbed "porn mode" in a nod to one of its more obvious uses.

An ancillary addition to Private Browser is a new addition to the "Clear Recent History" dialog box that allows users to selectively erase the last hour, the last two hours, the last four hours, today's or all browsing history. Previously, the wipe was all or nothing.

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 includes support for "web worker threads," a developing specification that will let Web-based application developers run background processes to speed up their apps. One feature trumpeted by Mozilla in Beta 1 has disappeared in the newest version. As Mozilla noted in late November, it pulled a revamped Ctrl-Tab tab-switching feature because it wasn't satisfied with the tool's user interface. The now-absent Ctrl-Tab redesign, which was based on an existing add-on of the same name, showed users thumbnails when they cycled through open tabs, and switched between current and last-viewed tabs rather than simply moving to the next tab on the right.

According to Web metrics company Net Applications, Firefox accounted for 20.8 percent of all browsers used during November, marking the first time that the open-source browser broke the 20 percent barrier for an entire month.

Few users are trying Firefox 3.1, however; last month, only 0.05 percent of all users were running a preview of the new version, Net Applications said.

There will be at least one more beta in the Firefox 3.1 development cycle. Two weeks ago, Mozilla said it had added a third beta to the process, in part to evaluate some of the features introduced Monday, including TraceMonkey and Private Browsing, and to allow time for programmers to fix the bugs that users report.

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Mozilla's site. Users already running Beta 1 will be notified of the available update in the next 48 hours.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags firefox 3.1

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?