Mozilla ships Firefox 5, holds to new rapid-release plan

Delivers browser on time, patches WebGL as Microsoft hits rivals over 3-D standard

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Seven of the 10 bugs quashed in Firefox 5 were also rated critical, two were labeled moderate and the last was pegged a "low" threat.

One of the moderate vulnerabilities patched in Firefox 5 was in the browser's implementation of WebGL, a 3-D rendering standard that both Chrome and Firefox rely on. The bug was reported to Mozilla by Context Information Security, which has cited several serious security issues with WebGL, including information theft.

Context has recommended that users and administrators disable WebGL in Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) does not support WebGL, has gone further in its criticism of WebGL, and by association, its biggest rivals. "Customers need to understand that the security of their computers is at risk when they browse the Web using Google Chrome and Firefox," Ari Bixhorn, director of IE, said in a statement on Friday.

IE's usage share has eroded under pressure from rivals Mozilla and Google. Microsoft's browser has lost users to Firefox and more recently, Chrome, as first one and then the other gained share at IE's expense. As of the end of May, IE's global share was 54%, down from over 90% in 2004.

Over the last year, IE has lost about half a percentage point of share each month, with the bulk of it going to Chrome.

Users running Firefox 4 will be offered the upgrade to Firefox 5 through the browser's update mechanism, which is triggered when the "About Firefox" dialog is opened. In Windows, users can select "Help/About Firefox" from the Firefox button at the upper left of the browser Windows. On a Mac, "About Firefox" is the first choice under the Firefox menu.

Firefox 5 can also be downloaded manually from Mozilla's site.

The next version of Firefox is currently on schedule for an early August release.

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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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