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Firefox 24.0 Beta 1 reveals tear-off social windows, “Close tabs to right” feature

12 August 2013, Nick Peers

Firefox Aurora - NEWHot on the heels of its Firefox 23 FINAL release, Mozilla has launched updates to its beta and alpha channels with the launch of Firefox 24.0 Beta 1 and Firefox Aurora 25.0a2 respectively.

The biggest changes in play can be found in Firefox 24.0 Beta 1, with a number of noteworthy new features and improvements, including another update to its burgeoning social API with support for tearing off chat windows to view them in a separate, floating window.

Users simply have to click and drag the chat window away from the main Firefox window to see this new feature in action.

Firefox Aurora 25.0a2

Firefox Aurora 25.0a2 sports a new program icon and revamps the Find bar among other minor changes.

Version 24 also implements a new feature for quickly closing a number of recently opened tabs that were only required short-term – users can now simply right-click the tab they wish to keep and choose “Close tabs to the right” to remove more recently opened tabs – in right-to-left locales such as Arabic or Hebrew the equivalent “Close tabs to the left” option will appear instead.

The beta build also continues to support the new scrollbar style implemented in Mac OS X Lion (10.7) user, but which slipped from the final build. It also comes with the promise of accessibility related improvements for using pinned tabs and some minor developer tweaks (including major SVG rendering improvements around image tiling and scaling). Support for W3C touch events has, however, been disabled until Firefox is able to support them correctly.

The new Aurora build offersa few additional changes, the most notable of which is tab-independent Find bars. These now appear at the top of the screen when invoked via [Ctrl] + [F] and allow users to search multiple pages independently of each other. It also debuts a new, flatter program icon, following in the footsteps of Firefox 23’s icon facelift.

A notable change is that Aurora will now offer to migrate history and settings from another browser if Firefox hasn’t been used for a number of months. This is joined by Firefox no longer clearing your browser session when resetting it to its default settings. One notable fix is that blank or missing page thumbnails should no longer appear when opening a new tab.

Firefox 24.0 Beta 1 and Firefox Aurora 25.0a2, along with Firefox 23 FINAL, are all available now as free open-source downloads for Windows, Mac and Linux. Firefox Beta will install over the top of any existing stable release, Aurora installs alongside it but uses the same preferences. In either event, users should proceed – as with all beta and alpha software – with caution.

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