Firefox Builds on Its Success

The open-source browser gains new management and new users, and lays out the plans for its next update.

Firefox, the popular open-source Web browser, is continuing to gain users even as its management structure evolves and it resets its plans for its next update.

The Mozilla Foundations Firefox recently zoomed past the 75 million-download mark. At this rate, some expect the browser to hit the 100 million-download mark by early October.

According to the French research company XiTi Monitor, Firefox has an 11.78 percent share of the browser market in North America, while in Europe, according to XiTis numbers, Firefox is being adopted at an even quicker pace, with a 14.83 percent market share.

Indeed, in some countries—Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Poland—more than 20 percent of users have switched the browser they primarily use from Internet Explorer to Firefox.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about Googles plans to release a Firefox-ready tool bar.

At the same time, Mozilla is addressing its needs for a stronger management structure. Concerns about developer burnout and a lack of overall management had led to Mozilla naming Mike Schroepfer its new director of engineering.

According to Mozilla President Mitchell Baker, Schroepfer will initially focus on product planning and delivery for Mozillas upcoming new releases, such as Thunderbird 1.5, Firefox 1.5 and Gecko 1.9. Once thats in hand, hell work on managing Mozillas development employees.

He will have his hands full at first.

This week, the Foundation announced that instead of releasing Firefox 1.1 this fall, it will be releasing Firefox 1.5. This news was first misinterpreted by some as meaning that Firefox 1.1 had been "scrapped."

The truth of the matter, according to Mozillas Chris Beard, is that the "change has been made to better reflect the level of fixes and feature enhancements which will be included in these releases."

This new Firefox, code-named Deer Park, is due to begin being beta tested in August. The shipping version is to roll out the door in September.

Some Firefox supporters, however, doubt that Mozilla will be able to meet this timeline. Still, the final version of Firefox 1.5 will almost certainly appear before the official Internet Explorer 7 arrives.

/zimages/4/28571.gifFor a review of the first beta of Internet Explorer 7.0, click here.

Firefox 1.5 is slated to give users additional pop-up blocking tools and a more visible process for installing Firefox updates, including security fixes, said Asa Dotzler, Mozillas release coordinator, in an earlier interview.

In addition, it will be built on the foundation of the newest version of Mozillas Gecko graphics rendering engine. That should give Firefox a performance boost. It will also give it support for such newer Web standards as CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets, Level 3) and SVG (scalable vector graphics).

Those upgrades had always been scheduled for Firefox 1.1. The newly renamed Firefox 1.5 will also include improved browser updating and a better system for updating Firefox extension programs.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.