Mozilla Firefox 3.5 will ship Wednesday morning

A Mozilla spokesperson said the final release of the company’s latest web browser, version 3.5, will be available for download on Tuesday morning Pacific Time (Wednesday morning NZ time).

The upgrade just snakes in under Mozilla’s deadline wire of 30 June, although it’s six months after when it originally planned to release the browser.

Firefox 3.1 morphed into 3.5 earlier this year, partly as acknowledgement of the delays, and partly because enough new features were added on top of the current 3.0 version to warrant it.

"The increase in scope represented by TraceMonkey and Private Browsing, plus the sheer volume of work that's gone into everything from video and layout to places and the plugin service make it a larger increment than we believe is reasonable to label 3.1", Mozilla’s engineering vice president Mike Shaver said in April.

The release is just over a year since Firefox 3.0 debuted.

The browser’s development process was held up repeatedly by hard-to-patch bug problems, mostly related to its new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine.

Mozilla pushed out an accelerated set of release candidates – with three in the last three weeks – to about 800,000 users running beta versions of the new browser in order to meet the deadline.

NBR tested the beta version three weeks ago, and was impressed with the browser’s speed and functionality - and Slate magazine shares our enthusiasm.

To recap, the list of new features includes a new privacy mode (the so-called ‘porn mode’ which Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, and Google’s Chrome have all introduced already), location aware browsing, and video rendering without the need for plugins.

The Firefox browser has the second largest market share for the June ’09 quarter with 22.5% according to web metrics company Net Applications, behind Internet Explorer’s 65.5%, although IE’s share has been declining for some time, a slide that has accelerated over the last year as Firefox’s share keeps increasing.

While Firefox is facing revitalised competition from the aforementioned browsers and fellow open-source browser Opera, Safari is the only other browser within coo-ee of Firefox’s market share with 8.25%, as the rest are well within margin of error regions of market share.

Firefox 3.5 will be available for Windows, Mac and Linux users from Mozilla’s site, or existing Firefox users can click on the Help button and select “Check for Updates”.

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