Mozilla has released its first release candidate for the third version of the Firefox web browser.

With over over 14,000 updates and major reworkings bringing improved performance, increased stability and leaner memory usage, new features include malware protection, web forgery protection, new SSL error pages, add-ons and plugin version checker, improved anti-virus integration and Vista parental control accessibility.

There's also easier password management, Tags, One-Click Bookmarks, a new download manager, resumable downloading, full page zoom, Instant Web Site ID, tab scrolling and quickmenus and better integration with Window, Mac and Linux platforms.

The new version launches with the claim that Firefox 3 is nearly ten times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 browser and almost three times faster than Firefox 2 in terms of JavaScript performance.

Firefox 3 RC1 is available to download now for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms but is still not a finished release, for testing purposes only, Mozilla warns.