Firefox 3.6.4 isolates third-party plug-ins when they crash or freeze. The new feature will be particularly helpful when using video-watching plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight and Apple Quicktime.
Crash protection is available for Windows and Linux systems only. The feature will be available for Mac OS X when Firefox 4 ships, Mozilla said in its blog.
As many as one in three Firefox crashes are caused by problems with third-party plug-ins, according to Mozilla. The new feature will allow the browser to keep running while portions of a Website controlled by the plug-in are disabled. Refreshing the page can restart plug-in content.
Support for Mac OS X has been delayed because the new feature requires major changes to Firefox on the Apple platform, Mozilla said.
In releasing crash protection, Mozilla is playing catch up with Google Chrome, which has had crash protection since it was first released in 2008.
The five most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Apple Safari, Chrome and Opera. IE remains the most widely used browser, accounting for nearly 60% of the market in May, according to Net Applications.
However, IE's share has been falling. The latest figures from Net Applications showed that number three Chrome has continued to gain usage momentum, rising to more than 7% of the market in May. Firefox is number two with a more than 24% share.
As the defacto browser for Macs, fourth-place Safari's growth is expected to continue rising due to sales of the iPad, which are at more than 3 million units since its release in April.