Mozilla is starting a more frequent release cycle for the popular web browser, Firefox. The company put this plan into action a few weeks ago when they began working on alpha versions of upcoming software and released it to the new “Aurora” development channel. Five weeks later, Firefox 5.0 beta was born. The release does not bring any new features that the average consumer would recognize or benefit from. Instead, developers get support for the CSS animations standard and access to the new “channel switcher” which allows anyone to switch between using Firefox stable, beta, or Aurora — Mozilla’s fancy term for alpha. And of course, what would a beta release be without bug fixes and performance improvements? Those are also included.
On May 27th, Mozilla updated the Aurora channel with a brand new release of Firefox: version 6.0. That’s right, Firefox 4, 5, and 6 are all available to the public at once, though 4.0 is the only stable version. Firefox 6 is still very early in development, but already includes a number of enhancements. The new Data Management Window gives the user complete control over the access specific websites get to cookies, passwords, location information, and other data stored in the browser. Panorama Groups on Demand improves the experience of Panorama, a feature Mozilla first unveiled in Firefox 4 to easily manage tabs. Groups on Demand decreases start up time by only letting users load saved tab groups when using the Panorama feature. Finally, Plugin Check verifies compatibility of all installed plugins through the Add-ons Manager.
Mozilla is internally testing Firefox 7 in the reserved “Nightly” channel. The company plans on releasing completely stable versions of Firefox 5, 6, and 7 by the end of 2011. This new development approach is completely different to their previous release cycle. For instance, Firefox 3.0 was released on June 17, 2008 and it was not until almost three years later that we were finally able to download Firefox 4.0 on March 22, 2011. It seems that Mozilla is following suit with the Google Chrome team, which cranks out a new stable version of the Chrome web browser every six weeks.
Links: Firefox Future Releases blog