Mozilla Launches Firefox 3.1 Beta 3

If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on the latest browser from Mozilla, you won’t have to wait much longer. The next version of Firefox is nearly complete, as evidenced by yesterday’s release of Firefox 3.1 Beta 3, the fifth development milestone in the popular web browser.

Beta 3 has been plagued by delays. Mozilla originally intended to launch Firefox 3.1 in late 2008. Because progress on the browser has been slower than planned, the company reworked its schedule and added Beta 3 to the timetable to give developers more time to fix bugs. Earlier this year, Mozilla pushed back Beta 3’s release. Beta 3’s release comes just a week before the expected release of Internet Explorer 8.

Just two weeks ago, Mozilla executives promised to move forward with the stalled Beta 3 release even if developers weren’t able to patch a bug in the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. To do so, they also added a fourth beta to the schedule. Beta 4 is currently scheduled to be released April Firefox 3.1b314th. The company’s Bugzilla problem-tracking database shows the TraceMonkey flaw had not been fixed at the time of Beta 3’s release.

Beta 3 includes improvements to Firefox’s Private Browsing Mode, improvements to web worker thread support, improvements to the Gecko layout engine, and support for native JSON as well as support for new web technologies.

Beta 3 will be the last public preview that will have the Firefox 3.1 label. Earlier this week, Mozilla decided to change the name to Firefox 3.5. The name change was prompted by developers who thought the 3.1 label didn’t adequately reflect the quantity of new features and changes from Firefox 3.0.

You can download Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 from Mozilla’s website. Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux versions in 64 different languages are available. Mozilla has yet to set a final delivery date for Firefox 3.5.