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Firefox 3.6 trots into first alpha

Mozilla offers lemur of hope

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Mozilla squirted out the first alpha version of Firefox 3.6 late on Friday.

The browser maker is also pretty confident that the next iteration of Firefox will rock up quite soon.

"Unlike the year that passed between Firefox 3 and Firefox 3.5, we expect that this 3.6 release will be released in a small number of months," said Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard.

Indeed, Firefox 3.5 became synonymous with the word delay, so-much-so that Mozilla changed the browser's name. It had carried the moniker Firefox 3.1, natch, considering it would follow Firefox 3.0.

However, a number of showstopping bugs in the browser, brought on by the open source outfit's Tracemonkey JavaScript engine, meant that Mozilla kept missing its release deadline.

After months of holdups, the org decided to christen its latest browser Firefox 3.5, to reflect the number of tweaks that had taken place in development of the popular Internet Explorer rival, as well as the number of months that the release eventually racked up.

It was originally understood that Firefox 3.6, which is code-named Namoroka - after a national park in Madagascar - and based on Gecko 1.9.2., wouldn't land until the first half of next year.

Whether Mozilla has sped up the release remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that the next version doesn't represent as big a jump for the browser in development terms.

Features include faster JavaScript execution using TraceMonkey, improved page-rendering speed and a few new additions for the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) tech used in the browser.

If you fancy tinkering with Namoroka, it can be downloaded here. ®

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