Mozilla today released the first beta of the next iteration of their Firefox browser, version 3.6. Word broke earlier last week with details that 3.6, codenamed Namoroka, would finally be leaving Alpha status, and being made available for download ahead of the full stable release, which is currently expected to appear sometime next month.

However, despite 3.6's current availability, Mozilla's Patrick Finch has since clarified that the "beta programme for Firefox 3.6 has not yet launched", detailing that the version available on the companies servers is just a "test build".

So for those of you planning on taking the experimental beta plunge, a host of new features will great you, including:

  • Use of the 1.9.2 Gecko Engine - Faster page rendering.
  • Tab previews - Use CTRL and Tab to quickly switch between tabs.
  • Thumbnail taskbar previews - An option available to Windows 7 users.
  • Automated Plug-In Checker - Firefox will now automatically check for outdated plugins.
  • JavaScript - Improvements in handling JavaScript.

One such feature, although promised for version 3.6, which is lacking from this test build is the recently announced orientation detection. This new feature gives Firefox the power, when available, to detect the orientation of a device and change the position of the on screen data.

You can download the test build of the Firefox 3.6 Beta now, and according to some reports you may see an overall improvement in performance of up to 23%. If you give 3.6 a spin be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!