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While it might seem as if the campaign for president has been going on forever, it's got nothing on the long slow process that has been the development of Firefox 3. And the next stop on Mozilla's journey to its eventual next-generation Web browser is Firefox 3 Beta 4, which was released March 10.
Beta 4 of Firefox is getting us a bit closer to the final release but it isn't the last stop before final code. At around the same time that Beta 4 came out, Mozilla announced that there would definitely be a Beta 5 of Firefox 3.
This most recent beta of Firefox 3 isn't as radical a change as Beta 3 was, but it does introduce some new and improved capabilities, and in testing, performance did seem to be somewhat improved.
One of the bigger changes in this release is that Firefox 3 now uses native interface conventions when running under Windows Vista, Mac OS X and Linux. For those who move between systems the biggest difference will be on Linux, where Firefox 3 Beta 4 does not have the same keyhole Back button interface as is used on the other operating systems, instead sticking with a standard Back button.
On the user interface side, Beta 4 has improved zooming capabilities by making it possible to set zoom to text only (which should probably be the default setting). When this is turned on, zooming into a page increases the size of the text but leaves images at the normal size (though any text mapped to images will also grow).
The auto-complete used when typing text into the address bar has also been updated, with the term being typed appearing in bold text within the results as they come up. Mozilla also says that the results relevancy in the auto-complete has been improved to take into account the frequency that pages are visited and how recently they were visited.
Aside from other small changes, that's about it for this release, which in most ways isn't radically different from Beta 3 (click here to see my review of Firefox 3 Beta 3).
To download Beta 4 of Firefox 3, go here.