Mozilla expects to release Firefox 3.0 final in June

Beta 5 is the last of the line; RC1 should show in early May, says chief engineer

Mozilla Thursday confirmed that it will release the final beta of Firefox 3.0 shortly, and that it expects to deliver the finished browser to users in June.

Firefox 3.0 Beta 5 has been code-frozen, said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, and is working its way toward release. "That will be the last beta for Firefox 3.0," he said. Once Beta 5 is out of the way, developers will move to the Release Candidate (RC) stage.

Release Candidate 1 (RC1) should be ready sometime in early May, said Schroepfer, assuming Mozilla meets its current schedule. "The release candidates will move a little slower than beta," he continued, noting that the company must make allowances for public feedback.

Mozilla typically tries to dissuade most users from trying betas, calling them fit only for developers and testing, but in the past has encouraged the public to try out its RC builds.

Although plans are flexible, Schroepfer said he expects version 3.0 to hold true to past Firefox form and cycle through three release candidates before Mozilla signs off on the code. The RC period is also useful to extension developers, he said, many of whom wait until the code is at that stage before tweaking their add-ons.

If all goes according to plan, Firefox 3.0 will wrap up and ship in June.

Mozilla released about two and a half weeks ago. According to its online schedule, Beta 5 will probably hit the company's download servers sometime early next week.

The open-source Firefox currently accounts for about 17.3 per cent of the browser market, according to Net Applications's most recent data. Microsoft's Internet Explorer rules the roost with 74.9 per cent, while Apple's Safari holds down third place with 5.7 per cent.

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