The wait is over for the Firefox faithful, as the Mozilla Foundation released the new version of the browser as planned.
Firefox 1.5 is available now at www.getfirefox.com and www.mozilla.com. The latter site is the "new home" of Firefox and Thunderbird, replacing www.mozilla.org as the download address for Mozilla's browser and open-source e-mail application.
A Mozilla spokeswoman said www.mozilla.com is home to Mozilla, a taxable company spun out from the Mozilla Foundation in August. Mozilla will handle all of the consumer-facing software from the open-source group, as well as any other merchandise such as Mozilla T-shirts and the like.
Mozilla had released three test release candidates of the browser earlier this month, as well as two beta versions, the first in September and the second in October.
Firefox, which celebrated its one-year anniversary Nov. 9, has become a popular alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser. Last month, the total number of Firefox downloads topped 100 million.
For Internet Explorer (IE) users who haven't made the leap to Firefox, version 1.5 includes a wizard that allows users to report Web sites that don't work in Mozilla's browser so developers can ensure sites working in IE also work in Firefox. The new version also includes more descriptive error-message pages and a redesigned Options/Preferences window that increases the number of category icons and moves them from the left side of the window to the top.
Other new features in the browser include an automatic software update mechanism, faster navigation using the "Back" and "Forward" tabs, and the ability for users to drag and drop browser tabs for reordering.
In addition, the Firefox update adds better pop-up blocking and a host of security enhancements, according to Mozilla. Other new features include the addition of Answers.com to Firefox's list of search engines and a Clear Private Data function that allows users to quickly remove personal data through a menu item or keyboard shortcut.