New Firefox Schedule Will Bring the Good Stuff Faster

Mozilla's Firefox 4 may still be fresh from the oven and cooling on millions of users' computers, but Mozilla has already set an aggressive schedule with specific dates for the release of the open source browser's upcoming versions.

Indeed, making good on the promise back in February that it was planning to step up the pace of its browser releases, Mozilla has now made plain that it plans to ship the final release of Firefox 5 on June 21, likely followed by Firefox 6 in mid-August.

Beginning with Firefox 6, in fact, Mozilla will adopt a standard, overlapping 18-week schedule by which each new version spends six weeks in each of three different stages: the "central" or "nightly" phase, which is "just like the current repository," Mozilla notes; the "aurora" phase, where work done previously is stabilized; and then the beta phase, in which any remaining issues are fixed. A draft outline is posted on Mozilla's site.

'Releases Are Not Delayed'

Whereas previous Firefox releases have taken many months to develop, Mozilla's new timetable will impose a much stricter schedule that's akin to the one Google follows for its own Chrome competitor.

"Each release happens regardless of whether a given feature is ready, and releases are not delayed to wait for a feature to stabilize," Mozilla explains in a separate draft document. "The goal of the process is to provide regular improvements to users without disrupting longer term work."

According to Mozilla's schedule, Firefox 5 will enter the aurora phase on Tuesday. At the same time, Firefox 6 will enter its central, or nightly, phase.

(More) Instant Gratification

Firefox 4 has propelled Mozilla's browser to the forefront of the pack with enhancements including greatly boosted speed, a widely touted "Do Not Track" mechanism, a "tabs on top" layout and more.

That version of the browser--which blew away expectations with some 7 million downloads in its first 24 hours--may have taken a relatively long time to bake, but it's clear future versions won't.

I love Firefox 4, but I can't wait to try out the next version, which promises to feature a more responsive interface, an updated search bar, site-specific tabs and more. It's exciting to see that Mozilla is committing to make the browser even better sooner--and more often.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk .

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