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Near-ready Firefox 3.6 gets second RC sausage

Mozilla nixes 3.7, but features will still take flight

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Mozilla has popped out a second Release Candidate of its forthcoming browser Firefox 3.6, a final version of which could land this week.

The open source outfit said Firefox 3.6 RC2 had refined how the browser will allow third party software to slot into the browser, in a move to prevent crashes. Mozilla has fixed over 70 bugs from the last beta, to improve stability, security and features.

Meanwhile, Mozilla’s Mike Beltzner penned a blog post on Friday, in which he confirmed that Firefox 3.7 (well, the name at least) had been ditched. Instead Firefox 3.6 will be the final biggish release before Firefox 4.0 lands, which isn't expected until late this year or early 2011.

In the meantime, Mozilla developers will work on regular “feature updates” that will be bolted onto Firefox 3.6 as part of an ordered 4-6 week security patch cycle.

“The rumours of Firefox 3.7’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Nobody’s planning on ‘dumping’ features or the hard work of our passionate and tireless community,” wrote Beltzner.

“The shape of the internet changes every day. Our mission is to develop the best open source implementations of web technologies and ship them in an excellent browser so that our users and the entire web can benefit.

"That means always thinking about how we can deliver technology as efficiently and quickly as possible. Sometimes it means challenging our assumptions.”

Beltzner’s defensive comments followed various reports last week that suggested the browser maker had altogether canned Firefox 3.7.

What's in fact happened is that Mozilla has shifted gears in terms of how it plans to deliver new features to Firefox, he explained. Beltzner said that Mozilla had better testing methods that now enabled the outfit to work in isolation on specific projects, such as “Lorentz”.

“So instead of thinking of ‘Firefox 3.7’ and ‘Firefox 4.0’ and being rigid and proscriptive about what technology improvements will come in which specific months, I’m encouraging us all to think about what we’re trying to improve, and how those improvements can be most efficiently delivered to our users and the internet,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Beltzner was keen to point out that improvements and support pencilled in for Firefox 3.7 might now be released earlier. But just like the oft-delayed Firefox 3.1, which was eventually renamed Firefox 3.5 after Mozilla kept missing its self-inflicted deadlines, Firefox 3.7 seems ultimately to have suffered the same fate.

“Software development is chaotic, and due to the open nature of our community you (and the press) are getting to see exactly how the sausages are made. It may look like a bloody mess at the start, but once it starts to take shape it’s obvious that you’re making something delicious,” noted Beltzner. ®

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