On the heels of Firefox 3.6.3 Plugin 1 / 3.6.4 codename Lorentz Beta, Mozilla has made available for download a new release of the next major iteration of its open source browser. Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 is currently available for download from Mozilla’s FTP servers, as it is a very early development milestone of the next version of Firefox. In fact, Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 is the Mozilla Developer Preview 1.9.3 Alpha 4, and in this regard, not a full browser, and certainly not ready for end users, but instead designed to be tested by early adopters and developers.

And yet, Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 / the Mozilla Developer Preview 1.9.3 Alpha 4 and Firefox 3.6.3 Plugin 1 / 3.6.4 codename Lorentz Beta both now share an upcoming feature. Here’s the explanation from Mozilla: “Gecko 1.9.3 alpha introduces new features which can be tested by using this Mozilla Developer Preview. Many of these features are still in development, and while they will likely appear in some future version of Mozilla Firefox, some may be in earlier releases than others.”

The next generation Out of Process Plugins feature that made its debut in Firefox 3.7 Alpha 2 is now heading to Firefox 3.6. The next update to Firefox 3.6, namely version 3.6.4, will feature OOPP, which can currently be tested through the Beta Build for codename Lorentz. “On Windows and Linux, plugins (such as Flash and Silverlight) are now isolated from Firefox. Plugin crashes will not kill Firefox itself, and unresponsive plugins are automatically restarted,” Mozilla explains.

But at the same time, there are additional changes specific only to the Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 / the Mozilla Developer Preview 1.9.3 Alpha 4, “including:

“- Privacy: Web sites can no longer use: visited styling to determine the browsing history of a user.
– User Interface: Currently loaded web pages are shown in the location bar autocomplete list, allowing switching to existing tabs.
– Stability: The beta version of Adobe Flash is now run in a separate process on Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6).
– SVG: SVG attributes which are mapped to CSS properties can now be animated using SMIL.
– Video: Full-screen video on Windows is now rendered using hardware acceleration when available.
– Plug-Ins: Mozilla has implemented the Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently.
– HTML: HTML form controls can be resized by the user.
– Performance: Linux builds are now built with -fomit-frame-pointer, improving page load times on average by 4%.”

Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 / Mozilla Developer Preview of Gecko 1.9.3 Alpha 4 for Windows is available here.
Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 / Mozilla Developer Preview of Gecko 1.9.3 Alpha 4 for Mac OS X is available here.
Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 / Mozilla Developer Preview of Gecko 1.9.3 Alpha 4 for Linux is available here.

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