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Firefox 4.0 developers granted year of living dangerously

Major version of browser to land in late 2010

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Mozilla won't release the next significant upgrade of Firefox until the final quarter of 2010.

The open source browser maker said it expects to release Firefox 4.0 in October or November of next year.

Of course before that versions 3.6 and 3.7 will be squirted out by the team, assuming that Mozilla doesn't hit similar problems to those encountered with 3.1.

The outfit was forced to rejig its roadmap and jump directly from its June 2008 3.0 release to 3.5 after a number of showstopping bugs delayed the next iteration (which should have been 3.1) of the browser several times, eventually forcing the name change.

Mozilla already revealed earlier in the summer that it planned to make some major changes to the Firefox interface.

Many have likened those proposed tweaks to bringing the browser more into line with Google's Chrome. All of which has led to some gripes from the Firefox faithful who have fretted over all the jiggery-pokery currently being mulled at Mozilla Towers.

There's also a nod in the direction of Windows Vista/7 Aero Glass design with Firefox 3.7 taking on the same translucent appearance as the OS itself.

By the time the lid is lifted on version 4.0 of the popular browser, users can expect a variety of new features including multi-gesture support and a gleaming new interface.

And naysayers beware: Mozilla has confirmed it will indeed be Chrome-like, with each tab functioning as its own separate session in an effort to cut down on the number of lost browser sessions that has dogged Firefox in the past.

But first Firefox 3.6 will rock up, with Mozilla planning to spin it out before this year is out, presumably to have synergy with Microsoft's Windows 7 release next month.

Minor enhancements to that browser iteration, codenamed Namoroka and based on Gecko 1.9.2, will include lightweight themes, improvements to the org's TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and an optimised session restore. ®

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