Firefox 4.0 goes Chrome, will arrive with new UI in Q4 2010

Mozilla recently updated its product roadmap through 2010. According to the first draft, the current browser will see a minor update in Q4 2009 as well as Q2 2010. Version 4.0 is headed for an October or November 2010 release and will bring a new user interface and browser sync integration.

The current release schedule is just in draft status, which means we have to take it with a grain of salt. But the guys over at Mozilla are surely busy getting two new versions of Firefox out by mid 2010 and apparently a completely new browser by the end of 2010.

The current 3.5x version will be updated with version 3.6, code-named Namoroka and currently available as alpha 1 release. The software will have a slightly faster Javascript engine than version 3.5, a faster startup time and will update the Gecko layout engine from version 1.9.1 to 1.9.2. Mozilla also promises Windows 7 integration light weight themes called Personas, as well as an improved form completion feature called awsomeformcomplete.  
Perhaps most interestingly, version 3.6 will debut with Fennec 1.0, the mobile version of Firefox, which will also be use the Tracemonkey Javascript engine.
The draft roadmap suggests that Firefox 3.7 will follow in Q1 or Q2 of next year, bringing and updated fennec v1.1 browser, a Gecko engine that is updated to version 1.9.3, support for XUL animations, task-oriented browsing, out-of-process plug-ins for more software stability, online bookmark synchronization, as well as further Tracemonkey and pageload enhancements. We will be especially looking forward to a transition in the way websites are handled by Firefox – version 3.7 will run websites as an application. Mozilla recently released Firefox 3.7 as a pre-alpha 1 version to developers.

It appears that Firefox 4.0 may debut in October or November of next year, if we believe the current draft roadmap. There is not much information what this next major update of the browser will bring, but the roadmap surprisingly indicates yet another small update for Gecko (to version 1.9.4) as opposed to the big step to the new generation v2. Mozilla said that Firefox 4 will treat content and chrome in separate processes, integrate the cloud feature Weave, which will synchronize user data, and offer more Tracemonkey enhancements.

And, Firefox 4 is designed with a new user interface for all platforms and will debut in concert with Fennec 2. There is not much information on how this new user interface will look like, but first mockups that have been posted on Mozilla’s website suggest that the Mozilla team favors a Google Chrome like design that integrates Windows 7 graphics features. Overall, window elements seem to be floating over the background. In any case, the days of the good old main menu bar with the File/Edit/View/History/Bookmarks/Tools/Help items seem to be counted. But then, the mockups aren’t final and Mozilla says it is simply exploring new designs at this point in time.