New Versions of Firefox Get Delayed

Mozilla won't be releasing new versions of Firefox as early as initially planned. The next version of Firefox (version 3.6) was planned to be released sometime this year. Now, this version won't be released until at least the first quarter of 2010. This pushes back other releases as well, including the major 4.0 release; Firefox 4.0 is now scheduled for the end of 2010 or the first quarter of 2011.

Mozilla is figuring the extra time spent to deliver the newest version of its browser will be worth the risk of losing market share. The delays could be good news for Microsoft, giving the software giant a chance to take back a share of the increasingly crowded browser market. Recent numbers show that Firefox 3.5 has a greater percentage of users than Internet Explorer 7 or 8. Due to market adoption of Windows 7, however, the trends also show a rapid transition to Microsoft's latest browser. Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari, and Opera's browser could also take advantage of the Firefox delays.

Firefox 3.6 will have a Personas plug-in that will let users customize the appearance of the browser. Corporations could also use this feature to put company logos in front of users. Other improvements include improved launch times and better security.

Looking ahead to future versions, Firefox 3.7 is said to start up 25% faster on Windows and will incorporate Jetpack which is an improved interface for plug-ins that makes them easier to write, install, and upgrade. Version 3.7 is also expected to incorporate the first phase of work on Electrolysis. Electrolysis is designed to improve the stability of the browser by isolating processes into separate components. Plug-ins will also be moved to a process separate from the main browser. By separating components in this way, a problem with a process or plug-in won't crash the entire browser. Another key improvement with version 3.7 is called Weave. This plug-in will synchronize bookmarks, passwords, plug-ins, and open tabs across different Firefox windows.

Firefox version 4.0 will likely deliver major interface changes and will do away with the menu bar and use some sort of a pop-down menu instead. According to a blog post from Mozilla designer Stephen Horlander, the current thought is that version 4.0 will use an App Button similar to what we've seen with native Windows 7 applications.