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Firefox 4 in March, A First Look At Firefox 5

The elimination of the remaining bugs in Firefox 4 isn’t proceeding as fast as Mozilla would like and it appears that the release of the browser has shifter one more time. The RC is now targeted for a finalization on February 25, while the final version of the browser is now targeted for sometime in March. First mockups hint to dramatic UI changes with a site-specific browser that integrates Apps within tabs.

According to the most recent Firefox 4 meeting minutes, there are 22 blocking bugs left in the Firefox 4 Beta, all of which need to be fixed until the RC can be pushed out. Mozilla’s Damon Sicore expressed some frustration with the patching process as he noted that 91 non-blocking bugs were fixed over the past seven days and only 84 blocking bugs.

“I believe it’s time to do daily blocker driving on these few remaining items-triage the noms, review and push on each and every hard blocker, and give approvals the required attention to prevent regressions,” Sicore wrote. “We can’t afford to continue landing patches that risk significant regressions.  It’s churn we don’t need.”

A few thousand miles away, Golem.de found Jay Sullivan, vice president for Mobile Firefox, announcing that Firefox 4 will be released by the end of March. However, he also noted that this isn’t a guarantee, as the release could still be delayed, if the Firefox team will find more substantial bugs. There was also some buzz about a WebOS version of Firefox.

Firefox 5, which is scheduled to be released by the end of the first half of this year, is already in development and may get dramatic UI modifications that reach beyond a simple “chromification”. According to the UI team notes, the browser interface is planned to be more responsive, there will be an updated URL bar (with a width of 240 pixels) and there will be substantial changes to the appearance and use of tabs.

Firefox 5 Site Specific Browser Mockup

Firefox 5 Site Specific Browser Mockup

First mockups show that Mozilla is thinking about what it calls a site-specific browser, which will dedicate tabs to specific sites, which will integrate a navigation menu and site links within a site tab. For example, a visit to Twitter would automatically integrate features such as new tweetsearch or direct messages within the site tab. This is the first example where we see Mozilla attempting to deal with web applications, where it actually turns websites into apps, while the web browser remains the dominant access and visualization platform. The typical Windows shortcut to a website is also changed into an actual application icon.

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