It’s been a little while since we checked in with web browser Mozilla, but a lot has happened in a short time. Faced with a surging Chrome browser from Google Inc. (GOOG), Mozilla has altered its strategy somewhat. Perhaps taking note of Chrome’s psychological advantage of a faster release schedule (Chrome 13 sounds very advanced), Mozilla has pushed Firefox towards a shorter release cycle as well adopting a new “Rapid Release” calendar.
Firefox 4 launched March 22, four months behind schedule. Since then Mozilla has kicked things up a notch, releasing Firefox 5.0 on June 21. Now after five betas the company is back at it, almost ready to release Firefox 6.0.
The installation executables for Windows, Mac, and Linux (links) popped up on Saturday, as noted by posters on the Neowin forums. While the installed browser’s landed page is still stuck on the beta testing page, a quick look at Help > About Firefox shows that this is indeed the release channel final 6.0 build.
That led some to speculate that Firefox 6.0 might be releasing early. Yet the days slipped by and Mozilla appears to be content to release it on the previously announced date — Tuesday, August 16. (today).
Since late March, Firefox has been available for the world’s most used smart phone operating system Android. Firefox 6 marks another release of desktop and Android browsers side-by-side.
There’s not much in the way of cosmetic tweaks on the desktop side. The biggest change you’ll notice (or maybe won’t) is that the domain name is now bolded in the address bar. Where as sub-domains in Chrome are also bolded, only the base domain is bolded in Firefox, which is nice in a way, for quicker visual recognition.
Aside from bug fixes and web developer-centric additions, the only other item of note an optimized “Panorama” tab organizer. Mozilla says its now faster to loaded Panorama and surf through your tab collection. A new permissions manager was rumored to be planned (see Wikipedia) — but is noticeably absent from the change log (Update: it’s there — you can find it by typing “about:permissions” in the URL bar, thanks Gungel!). The release notes for the desktop version are available here, while the bug fix log is available here.
On the Android side, the browser has been sped up, uses less memory (thank you!), scales images better, and offers a “fresh visual style in Chrome Gingerbread”.
CNN is reporting that Mozilla is upset about people downloading Firefox 6 (release) early (which begs the question of why they put it up in the usual location). Mozilla reportedly said that early download traffic overwhelms its servers and slows the standard release process.
Don’t blink because you might miss Mozilla’s next launch. Along-side Firefox 6.0 will be Firefox 7 beta 1. Firefox 7, which will reportedly offer “vastly” improved memory usage, will release on Sept. 27, after only a single beta. Alongside Firefox 7 (release) will be Firefox 8 beta 1, another single-beta release. The release version of Firefox 8 will drop November 8, just in time for Thanksgiving festivities.
At this rate, we should hit Firefox 20 in holiday season 2013.
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