Firefox 3.6 released

The latest version of the open-source Web browser gets back to its roots, putting new technology in the hands of its users, its developers say.

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Smell that? It's update day for Firefox users.

The folks at Mozilla declared this morning that the latest flavor of the open source Web browser, 3.6, is ready for public consumption – essentially telling an army of users worldwide: "OK, go."

What's new in this release? The feature most people will notice is what the Firefox team claims is a 20 percent increase in JavaScript performance, meaning social networks and other sites that constantly update should perform slightly better. And users (including this writer) who load multiple tabs at once will appreciate this one: priority is now given to the topmost tab – a logical step that seems long-overdue. Another update addresses a frequent complaint: instability; 3.6 includes a plugin-checker that notifies users of out-of-date add-ons, reducing the browser's tendency to crash because of third-party extensions.

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The real improvements of 3.6, though, may be behind scenes – for now at least. The latest Firefox lays the groundwork for developers to work further with the next generation of Web technologies. It supports the Web Open Font Format, CSS gradients, the HTML5 Drag and Drop API, the File API, and full-screen HTML5 video. What's all that mean? Basically, it moves us toward the vision of the browser as OS, where browsers perform tasks that were once reserved for separate pieces of software.

Download links for Windows, Mac, and Linux (in any of 70 languages) are available here. Give Firefox 3.6 a whirl and let us know your impressions in the comments.

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