Mozilla on track to ship Firefox 6 next week

Gives the green light for upgrade's release Aug. 16

Mozilla is on track to release Firefox 6 next week, according to notes posted on the company's website.

Developers have signed off on Firefox 6 and anticipate no problems that could delay the Aug. 16 release of the browser upgrade, meeting notes show.

Firefox 6 toolbar
Firefox 6 mimics rivals Chrome and IE by highlighting the domain name in the address bar, one way to show users that they're on a legit site.

"On track with a few bugs still remaining. No concerns for Tuesday," the notes stated.

Mozilla has used a new rapid-release schedule since this spring. The schedule delivers a new version of Firefox every six weeks, a move many have compared to the pace Google has maintained for its Chrome browser for more than a year.

Firefox 5 shipped June 21, six weeks ago next Tuesday. Mozilla plans to deliver Firefox 7 on Sept. 27, and if the quick-release schedule holds, Firefox 8 on Nov. 8 and Firefox 9 on Dec. 20.

Firefox 6 includes several noticeable changes, including highlighting domain names in the address bar -- both Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 do something similar by boldfacing domain names -- and reducing startup time when users rely on Panorama, the browser's multi-tab organizer.

The Mozilla upgrade pace has upset some users, including corporations like IBM that have installed the open-source browser on tens of thousands of Windows PCs. Mozilla has not backed off the faster-release plan, but in response to enterprise complaints and concerns, established a committee to take feedback.

Also next week, Mozilla plans to release Firefox 3.6.20, an update that will include security patches and other fixes to the 2010 edition retained by about 1-in-3 Firefox users.

When Firefox 6 ships, users running Firefox 4 or Firefox 5 will be offered the new edition through the browser's update mechanism, which is triggered when the "About Firefox" dialog is opened.

As of the end of July, 48% of Firefox users were running Firefox 5, while just 11% were still on Firefox 4.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

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