Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate Out Now - InformationWeek

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6/17/2009
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Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate Out Now

Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Opera have also released significant upgrades to their browsers in the past few months.

Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate was made available on Tuesday evening through the automatic update mechanism in the most recent Firefox 3.5 beta release. Those wishing to download it can do so by installing Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 and updating the software from the Help menu. Mozilla is likely to post a direct link in the next day or two.

Barring the discovery of any show stopping bugs, Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate will become the official Firefox 3.5 release, which is scheduled to be made available at the end of this month.

Firefox 3.5 arrives later than planned. Back when it was designated Firefox 3.1, it was supposed to be ready by the end of 2008. It also arrives amid a browser renaissance. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Opera have all released significant upgrades to their browsers in the past few months.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a more competitive space right now than the browser," acknowledges Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox. He says he's undaunted by the competition, however. "Having a really competitive market helps us to innovate," he adds, using the same spin that can be heard among Google spokespeople.

Consider this response from a Google spokesperson to news that Yahoo had bested Google in the University of Michigan's 2007 American Customer Satisfaction Index: "We are continually working to provide the best online experience for our users and welcome strong competition that helps drive market innovation."

The reason for all this competition, or innovation if you prefer, is that the Web has become the dominant programming model of the moment. As Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra put it at Google's developer conference last month, "the Web has won."

As a consequence, browser makers are paying much closer attention to issues like user experience, in addition to game-changing features.

Having focused recently on experimental projects that enrich the Firefox ecosystem like Bespin, JetPack, Ubiquity, and Weave at the expense of core architectural innovation, Mozilla appears to have learned its lesson. Firefox 3.5 represents a reaffirmation of Mozilla's commitment to browser basics like speed, stability, and memory usage.

Firefox 3.5 feels fast again, in line with Apple's Safari 4 and Google Chrome 2.

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