After an extensive beta program and two release candidates (or three, if you use a Mac), the final version of Firefox 3 is now officially set for release. The Firefox developers insisted they would only release it "when it's ready," and now the word is that it will be ready at last on Tuesday, June 17.
Expect this release to go off with a bang. Firefox developers and fans are eagerly anticipating the new browser, and they've already cooked up a number of ways to celebrate.
As has been reported previously, the Firefox team wants to set a new Guinness World Record for the most software downloaded on a single day. To get a jump start on their headcount, they've been registering users who pledge to download Firefox 3 when it's released. If you do register, however, don't forget to actually grab the software on Tuesday!
As an additional incentive, once you've downloaded your copy, you can expect more than a pat on the back. As they have in the past, Firefox fans are planning a number of birthday parties for the browser at various locations around the world. You can RSVP for one near you on the Firefox party page hosted by the Mozilla organization; or, if you don't see one in your area, you can register one yourself.
Of course, the lingering question that remains is whether all this hype is actually worth it? How big a deal is Firefox 3, anyway?
The short answer is a rhetorical question: How important is your Web browser to you? With more and more of our computing moving online, the browser is arguably the most critical piece of software on our desktops. Everything from e-mail to enterprise applications uses it as a client these days, so it only makes sense to take advantage of the most up-to-date version.
I've been using the beta editions of Firefox 3 for a while now, and while some new features take a little bit of getting used to, it's a definite improvement over the previous version. And, while with early releases I had to hack my browser to get some of my most-beloved extensions to work, the majority of them have now been updated for Firefox 3 (Google's extensions still, alas, excepted).
Are you planning to update your Firefox on Tuesday? Or is Internet Explorer still your browser of choice? Sound off in the PC World Community Forums -- and if you're planning to attend a Firefox 3 release party, you can let other PC World community members know about it here.