Firefox 4 puts on brakes

In a move that will both disappoint fans and potentially undermine its claim on the browser market, the Mozilla Foundation has said it will delay the release of Firefox 4 until 2011.

Originally scheduled for release later this year, apparent problems with the new browser have forced developers to push back their various target dates repeatedly. Most recently the scheduled release of beta 7 of the browser was missed by developers.

Now developers have said that final versions of Firefox 4 will now only be released in early 2011. This will disappoint fans who have been hanging on for the new release for months now. Firefox 3.0 was released in June 2008 and Firefox 3.5 in June 2009.

Firefox development director Mike Beltzner, in a posting to the mozilla.dev.planning mailing list, said that they estimate that the “release candidate builds will ship in early 2011, with a final release date close behind.”

The news of the delay also comes at a time when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 browser, is gaining popularity. Various reports put IE9 downloads in excess of 10 million since its mid-September release.

Firefox 4 is expected to be packed with a host of new features, including version 2.0 of the Gecko rendering engine. The browser also includes a new add-ons manager and extension API as well as a new interface with the tabs being pushed to the top of the window along the lines of Google’s Chrome browser.

Firefox 4 also integrates Firefox Sync, a synchronisation service that manages bookmarks and data across multiple systems, including the new Firefox Mobile browser.

A beta version (beta 6) of the Firefox 4 browser can be downloaded from Mozilla’s beta site.

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Firefox 4 puts on brakes