Firefox's latest beta, Firefox 3.6 beta 1 has an unfortunate tendency to crash spordadically, even with minimal plugins installed.  (Source: Icanhascheezburger)
Browser test candidate does bring more speed, features to the table, though

If there's one vulnerability with Firefox, the leading third party-browser, which owns as much as a third of the market according to some estimates, it's been its tendency to crash.  Much of this owes to the fact that it allows very open access by extensions to its framework, leading to incompatibilities with new editions.

However, Firefox 3.6 beta 1 in our testing has been crashing far more than any Firefox build we've run in some time.  In fact, the last build we recall crashing this much was a rather buggy Firefox 2.0 Red Hat Linux build.  We've trialed the new test build on Vista, Windows 7, and OS X machines and in each case crashes frequently occurred.

The puzzling thing is that the crashes seem sporadic and hard to reproduce.  About once a day (sometimes every other day) during an approximately 2-3 hour use cycle Firefox will inexplicably crash.  The curious thing is that the Vista build, which has crashed more than 10 times only has one plugin -- the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant -- which seems an unlikely candidate for causing the failure.  Nor does any specific page seem to cause the crashes.

Furthering the mystery is that some beta testers are reporting similar crashes, though others are reporting none at all.  The release of the beta was delayed a few days, but released on October 31.

The beta does bring speed improvements and some nice new features, despite its rough edges.  Describes Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox, "The Mozilla community is proud to release Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 for download. This beta version of the next version of Firefox is built on the Gecko 1.9.2 web rendering engine, containing many improvements for web developers, Add-on developers, and users. The Mozilla community appreciates your feedback and assistance in testing this preview of the next version of Firefox. Your beta software will update itself periodically, and eventually will be updated to the final release itself."

You can pick up the beta build from here and test yourself.

The new version of Firefox does provide one nice new feature that somewhat remedies its frequent crashes.  While restore is included in the current version of Firefox and other browsers, to return you to your environment pre-crash, the new version has the ability to selectively reopen only some of the windows you had open.  This is definitely nice if you have a lot of tabs open and don't want to return to them all.  And it's especially useful if you find a specific page is crashing your browser.

Firefox's release of late have been solid, and it's still one of the best browsers on the market.  We've been loyally submitting our crash reports, so we're hoping Mozilla can lock down the underlying issues and have 3.6 more stable by the time of its official release.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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