Mozilla Trots Out Firefox Browser

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The Mozilla Foundation released a new version of its open source Web browser this week, with improvements to its download manager, extension, and bookmark handling, along with a new name aimed at skirting trademark complaints from another open source project.

The browser has lost its previous Firebird moniker and become the new "Firefox 0.8" software, a preview of the group's upcoming 1.0 release. The group dropped the Firebird name to avoid a scuffle with the Firebird relational database development project.

Firefox, released Monday, improves upon its predecessor with a new download manager aimed at tracking multiple downloads, easier bookmark handling, a new installer for Microsoft Windows users, and improved handling of extensions, Mozilla says.

Mozilla community members have created over 200 extensions, or small software applications that can be downloaded to increase the browser's functionality, the group says, including an ad banner remover and a spell-checker.

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The group also released a new preview of its Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail application Monday. Thunderbird 0.5 offers the ability to synchronize address books with devices from Palm, secure password authentication for SMTP and POP3 mail clients, an upgraded spell-checker and dictionary, as well as fixes to previous bugs.

A London user of Mozilla's previous e-mail application says that she is excited about the new software's ability to sync with Palm devices since she has a Tungsten E handheld.

Improvements to the e-mail client may convince her to begin using the Mozilla browser as well, as she gets more comfortable with the software, she says.

Mozilla Firefox 0.8 and Thunderbird 0.5 are both preview releases in anticipation of the group's next stand-alone Web browser and e-mail application. Both are available for free from the group's Web site.

Mozilla did not say when the new stand-alone applications would be available.

The group released a full Internet suite dubbed Mozilla 1.6, comprised of a Web browser, e-mail application, Web page editor, and Internet chat software, last month. It claims to have had 100,000 downloads of Mozilla 1.6 within the first 20 days of its availability. Correction: claims 1,000,000 downloads in 20 days.

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