Firefox gets crash protection in latest update

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The Mozilla Foundation has released Firefox 3.6.4, a security and stability update that adds crash protection to the browser.

The new feature isolates third-party plug-ins when they crash or freeze, allowing the browser itself to continue running unaffected. Refreshing the page will see Firefox attempt to restart the plug-in.

According to Mozilla, third-party plug-ins are responsible for an estimated one in three Firefox crashes.

However not all plug-ins are covered by the latest update. Only Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime and Microsoft Silverlight. It's not clear whether support for further plug-ins will be added in the future.

"Mozilla recognises that third-party plugins provide important functionality in many of today's websites," the company said, announcing the update. "At the same time, plug-ins can lead to problems for users as they browse.

"With the ability to automatically alert users when they have out-of-date plug-ins, and now crash protection, Firefox 3.6.4 allows users to experience all the content they love without any of the hassles."

Firefox users will no doubt welcome the new-found stability, but they have had to wait for it. The feature has been present in Google's Chrome browser since it launched back in 2008, and more recently has appeared in Safari 5 too.

Aside from crash protection, Firefox 3.6.4 is the typical mix of patches and fixes to address various performance and stability issues. A total of ten vulnerabilities are addressed in seven updates, four of them critical.

For now the update and its crash protection feature is only available in Windows and Linux variants, with Mac OS X having to wait until Firefox 4 arrives later this year.

The Firefox 3.6.4 update can be downloaded directly from Mozilla, or through the Check for Updates feature in the browser itself.