Next version Firefox set for late summer release

Von Todd R.

The next version of the Firefox Web browser, which will be called Firefox 1.5, is slated for released later this summer, and development work continues on new features that include an automatic update service.

Chris Hofmann, lead engineer at The Mozilla Foundation, the Mountain View, Calif.-based open-source group that oversees the Firefox project, said Friday that contrary to news reports, the release hasn"t been delayed.

"There really hasn"t been any official date" for a release, Hofmann said. "We haven"t ever published a date." Instead, the target time frame for a new release has always been mid- to late summer, he said.

Although the next release of the Firefox 1.0 browser has generally been referred to until now as Version 1.1, that nomenclature is now being changed to Version 1.5. The reason, Hofmann said, is that it will be easier for developers to test interim versions of the software using a wider gap in the version numbers.

So far, developers are making good progress in adding features to the upcoming version of Firefox, including development features that can be used to encourage additional Web applications for the browser, Hofmann said.

First and second alpha releases of the application were released last month, and a beta version is expected soon. But no specific date has been offered for when the beta will be available.

Earlier this week, The Mozilla Foundation announced that international versions of Firefox and the Thunderbird e-mail client would be delayed so that several recent security fixes could be included (see "Glitches delay international Mozilla releases"). The delay arose from a number of software glitches that were introduced in last week"s release of English-language versions of Firefox and Thunderbird.

The open-source browser was released in November for free download and has grown as a popular alternative to Microsoft Corp."s Internet Explorer browser and other competing browsers.

By April, Firefox had been downloaded 50 million times, according to The Mozilla Foundation.