The Firefox 5.0 Beta release is now available for use. Promising faster, more stable performance than 4.0, this Beta release doesn’t on the surface appear at all different from the current release.  One of the more notable changes is channel switching (below) which enables users to switch between 4.0 (Release), 5.0 (Beta), and Aurora, which is an Alpha test release.

(In order to switch channels, go to Help/About and click the “Change” button (above). Here’s the description of 5.0 from Mozilla:

After five weeks of testing on the Firefox Aurora channel, the next version of Firefox is ready for the beta channel. This release includes the Firefox channel switcher, performance and stability enhancements and support for the new CSS Animations standard to allow developers build more amazing Web experiences. The new Firefox channel switcher lets users move between Firefox Aurora, Beta and Release channels to test features at various levels of development, quality and polish.

After using 5.0 for a few days, it appears to be a bit faster than 4.0; I’ve frankly not experienced stability issues (instability issues?) with 4.0, but your mileage may vary.  I’ve taken a quick look at Aurora (below) and no dramatic changes were apparent there either, but I’ve frankly not used it extensively.

If you’re wondering why 5.0 Beta was released so quickly after the 4.0 release, Mozilla has embraced a faster product development and rapid release cycle. In order to try out Firefox 5.0 Beta, click here.  Note that some of your Add-Ons will likely not work with the Beta release.

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