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Late last week, Mozilla released the first beta of Firefox 3.6. New features include a warning when outdated plug-ins are activated.

A new version of the popular Firefox open source web browser isn't far away. The first beta release of Firefox 3.6 was made available for download last Friday.

In response to growing interest in plug-in vulnerabilities, Firefox 3.6 identifies outdated versions of plug-ins when they are called by web pages. Among the plug-ins recognised are Acrobat, Flash, Java, QuickTime, RealPlayer, Shockwave, Silverlight, and Windows Media Player.

If one or more outdated plug-ins are detected, the user is directed to Mozilla's Plugin Check page, which provides links to updated versions.

Firefox 3.6 includes support for new CSS, DOM and HTML5 web technologies, and improves the support for HTML5 video by handling full-screen playback and allowing poster frames (the image shown as a placeholder until playback begins).

For those concerned with browser cosmetics, Firefox 3.6 includes built-in support for personas (lightweight skins that only apply to the header and footer areas). Earlier versions of the browser required an add-on to handle personas.

Firefox 3.6 also supports WOFF (Web Open Font Format), a font format that allows for data compression and the identification of a font's source.

WOFF has gained support from many type foundries, including big names such as Adobe, ITC, Linotype, and Monotype.

It appears that the release of Firefox 3.6 is still expected during this northern autumn.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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