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Firefox 8 release adds native Twitter search

People can now download the newest version of Firefox one day early, getting access to new features like direct Twitter search and new tab options and animations
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Written by Ben Woods, Senior reporter on

The next version of Firefox has been released for download, bringing with it stability and user interface tweaks, as well as Twitter search integration.

Mozilla posted the Firefox 8 download was posted to its FTP servers on Saturday, three days ahead of its official release on Tuesday. It is available for PC, Mac and Linux machines.

The update to the popular browser now lets users search Twitter directly for people, hashtags or topics. People can select the micro-blogging platform in the drop-down search box, or they can highlight on-screen text and then right-click and select 'search Twitter'.

In addition, the new version disables all third-party add-ons by default, in a move to make the browser more secure. People can choose to manually re-enable the add-ons that they want to use.

Loading of tabs is also handled differently when the 'show my windows and tabs from last time' is selected as the default start page. This change means that instead of simultaneously trying to load every open tab when the browser starts, it just loads the one shown and loads each of the others when the user switches to it.

There have also been a few minor cosmetic tweaks, such as changing the animation when tabs are re-ordered or detached. Mozilla has also improved WebSocket and HTML5 context menu support.

Since March, Mozilla has released a full new version of Firefox around every six weeks, a schedule also followed by the Google Chrome browser. However, some developers and businesses have become frustrated, saying they are unable keep up with the rapid release schedule.

Mozilla also intends to mirror is the silent update process feature found in Chrome. This feature automatically makes sure users are always on the most recent version of the browser. However, the auto-update feature is not yet present in Firefox, though elements of it are expected to be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Microsoft has held off from switching to a similar quick-release cadence for Internet Explorer. According to Martin Beeby, developer evangelist at Microsoft, this will not change in the near future.

According to Netmarketshare's figures, both Internet Explorer and Firefox have lost ground to Google Chrome since the beginning of 2011, but retain the top two spots in terms of browser market share with 52.63 and 22.52 percent, respectively. Chrome is currently in third place, with 17.62 percent market share, according to the figures.

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