Firefox 13 Beta Released: What You Need to Know

By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 30, 2012 01:01 PM EDT

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Recently Mozilla released Firefox 12, the new version for its popular browser, and it is already turning its efforts towards Firefox 13, now in beta version, ready for download and testing. The final version will not be out for six weeks, but if you want to try the beta version, Firefox 13 is available for download from the beta release channel.

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Tabs on Demand

One of the best new features of Firefox 13 is "tabs on demand," which changes the way Firefox starts a new session when you have multiple tabs open. Instead of opening all of your previously opened tabs at once, the "tabs on demand" feature groups all those tabs into the same tab page, so you can choose which tab you want to open. No other background tabs are loaded, which allows for faster startup.

New Tab

Firefox 13 will also bring a new look to the New Tab page and the Home Page. The New Tab will now offer nine links to your most recently and frequently visited sites, a feature that Opera and Chrome have had for some time. Users can also pin their favorite sites or reject sites they don't want to see.

Home Page

Meanwhile, the default Home Page will now display links to menu items such as Bookmarks, History, Settings, Downloads, Add-ons, and Sync Preferences. You can access all these from the menu bar as well, but these frequently used menu items are now easier to find and access.

Default SPDY Protocol

Another great feature Firefox 13 has to offer is default SPDY protocol. Firefox has integrated SPDY into the last two releases, but the protocol has not been set to be enabled by default until now. The SPDY protocol is the successor of HHTP, and it is more secure because it uses SSL encryption for all sites. The SPDY protocol can significantly reduce page load times, making Web browsing not only more secure, but also faster. Once the final versions of Firefox 13 and Opera 12 are released, most desktop browsers on the Web will support SPDY.

Developer Tools

The biggest updates, however, are in the Developer Tools. Firefox 13 brings 72 changes to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor. The new version also adds ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects support, but currently it is still experimental.

Release Notes & Download Links

For more details on what is new in the upcoming Firefox 12, you can find the full list of updates and descriptions in Mozilla's release notes for the beta. Firefox 13 beta is now available for download on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, either in English or in a different language.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)

 

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