The first beta version of Firefox 4 was released by Mozilla today, and this incarnation has a new look, new features, and support for more HTML5 specs. A screenshot tour of the features is given below.
The big changes come in the form of an interface overhaul and some updated support for HTML5 features. In this release the new-and-improved Firefox skin is only complete for the Windows release, so Mac and Linux users, you’ll have to wait a bit. The highlights from the release notes with images (our notes in italics):
- Tabs are now on top by default on Windows only – OSX and Linux will be changing when the theme has been modified to support the change. If you don’t like tabs on top, you can disable them by right-clicking empty space on the toolbar chrome and unchecking Tabs on Top.
- On Windows Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar has been replaced with the Firefox button. You can get your menu bar back by right clicking empty space on the toolbar chrome and making sure Menu Bar is checked.
- You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar. This feature is a little strange, and I’m not entirely sure how often a person would use it in its current implementation, but I suppose it could come in handy.
- The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac and Linux. Handy, since many of us have been consolidating those buttons since Firefox 3.
- The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like).
- Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins.
- Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format. Remember, WebM is Google’s open video format.
- More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction.
That covers pretty much everything that stands out in Firefox 4 so far, though a couple of feature tweaks that aren’t specifically highlighted in the release notes that we particularly like include:
- The new add-ons manager, which loads in a tab of its own instead of a separate window.
- The new page loading progress indicator you see in the screenshot below.
If you’ve been kicking the tires on the new Firefox 4 beta and you’ve got a favorite new feature—whether we mentioned it above or not—let’s hear about it in the comments.