Firefox 4 Beta
Where to get it: www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/beta/
From looking at the beta version of Firefox 4, it's clear that browser minimalism and top-loading tabs are the new black in browser design. Like IE9, Chrome and Safari, the newest version of Firefox eschews complicated toolbars in favour of a clean layout that emphasises the pages you're surfing to. On Windows (Vista and 7 only), the minimalist design means that all of Firefox's menus spring out from the inventively named (and arguably Opera-borrowed) "Firefox button" that sits at the top left of the user interface. Standard menu layouts can also be invoked with a tap of the Alt key. Our only complaint with the Firefox button is that it sits in a vertical plane by itself, taking up what feels like a lot of screen real estate. It's still early beta days, so hopefully that'll change for final release. Tabs have shifted by default from the bottom to the top, although you can tweak this back if you're not in favour of it.
If you're the type of web surfer who always has hundreds of tabs open, you'll appreciate Firefox 4's Switch To Tab feature. If you're entering in the URL bar ... sorry, "Awesome Bar" by official Firefox parlance, the details of something that matches an existing open tab, it'll offer you the option to switch straight to that tab. Not so useful for single tabs, but if you've got dozens shrunk down to the point where they can't be found, it's potentially quite handy.
On the technical side, Firefox 4 supports yet another new video standard, WebM. It's open source and seems reasonably slick, but whether it'll unseat Flash and H.264 in any significant way isn't yet clear.
Firefox 4 is still very much in beta, and with that in mind, there's a permanently affixed Feedback button on the top left of the browser screen. We'll give them extra points for naming the feedback options "FireFox Made Me Happy Because" and "Firefox Made Me Sad Because..." if only because it's a cute way to engage browser testers.
Firefox 4 is still a beta, and it showed intermittently in our testing, with a few crashes along the way. Other than that, however, it's a swift browser that performs well. Existing Firefox users should upgrade to it once it's gone final, and those wanting cross-platform compatibility and a good browser could well be tempted to switch camps.
Between them, Firefox and Internet Explorer eat up at least 80 per cent of the world's browser share. Moving over to Google next...