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Mozilla delivers first Firefox 4 release candidate

8 months and 8,000 bugs later...

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Mozilla has announced the first Firefox 4 release candidate, after eight months of beta testing on the latest version of its open source browser.

The RC is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac in 79 different languages. You can download it here. If you're already testing the beta, you'll be automatically updated.

The new build offers "general stability, performance, and compatibility improvements" as well as myriad bug fixes. According to Mozilla, it has fixed more than 8,000 bugs since the first beta was released in July of last year.

The open source outfit says that more than 70 per cent of Firefox add-ons are now compatible with the new browser. You can help test additional add-ons using Mozilla's Firefox Add-ons Compatibility Reporter.

This is the last version of Firefox to be built over such a release cycle. After Firefox 4, Mozilla will switch to a quarterly release cycle, planning to launch four versions of its desktop browser in 2011.

In the past, the open source outfit has released a new version of the browser every 12 to 18 months or so. Presumably, the change to a quarterly cycle is a response to Google, which now releases a new version of Chrome every six to eight weeks.

According to Mozilla's public roadmap, Firefox 5 will offer a new account manager, a UI for "simple sharing", UI animation, and support for 64-bit Windows. Plans for Firefox 6 include a faster cache, support for Mac OS X 10.7, JavaScript optimizations, and a move towards "open web applications". Whereas Google is offering a Chrome-only store for web apps, Mozilla is developing an "open" framework for online stores that offer web applications for any browser. ®

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