The open-source project is set to make available Firefox 0.9, the browsers last technology preview release focusing on new features. After its release, developers plan to fix bugs and make final tweaks in order to launch a full version of Firefox in late summer, lead engineer Ben Goodger told eWEEK.com.
Firefox 0.9, which will be available for download from the Mozilla Web site, adds features for importing data such as saved passwords from Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and for managing extensions and design themes.
It also sports a new look, with redesigned icons and new colors, Goodger said.
The last test version of Firefox 0.9, which includes most of the new features, was made available earlier this week. Firefox runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
One of Mozillas biggest challenges is persuading users of IE to consider an alternative browser, given Microsofts 94 percent browser market share and the inclusion of IE with Windows.
"Were trying to make it as easy as possible for people using Internet Explorer to try us out," Goodger said. "If migration is easier, then people are more willing to try."
To that end, Firefox 0.9 lets users import a larger set of data from IE, as well as from Netscape and Opera browsers. While users could previously bring over their IE bookmarks, they now will be able to import such data as saved passwords, home-page settings and cookies into Firefox, Goodger said.
Users can import data from other browsers during installation or choose the option later from the "file" menu.
Mozilla renamed its standalone browser, formerly known as Mozilla Firebird, to Firefox with its 0.8 release earlier this year.
That release included a Windows installer to make it easier for users to install Firefox. With version 0.9., Mozilla also has decreased the size of the installer to improve the speed of download, Goodger said.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based foundation is following dual development tracks with its browser-based applications. It is continuing to develop its Mozilla application suite but turning more attention to its discrete applications for Web browsing and e-mail. In addition to Firefox, Mozilla plans to release a full version of its Thunderbird e-mail client later this year.
The next suite release, Mozilla 1.7, will become available this month, officials said. It also will serve as the basis for America Online Inc.s plans to update the Netscape Navigator browser this summer.
While the latest Firefox release includes a new design theme, it also provides a tool for managing extensions and themes to make it easier to switch among them, Goodger said. Extensions and themes are used to customize the browser, such as with a particular look and feel.
Enterprises also are gaining more control with an administration tool that lets companies perform functions such as locking down browser menus or customizations, Goodger said.