Firefox 3.5 out of the gate

San Jose (CA) – Mozilla met its initial target of releasing a new generation of its Firefox web browser in Q2. Version 3.5 was released earlier today, replacing Version 3.0, which was introduced in June 2008. The new Firefox brings massive speed improvements and enough new features that could have justified a 4.0 version number.

Firefox 3.5 comes on the last day of Q2, following three release candidates and eight months after the first beta. Mozilla’s director of Firefox, Mike Beltzner, told TG Daily in a previous interview that he is aiming for a major new release every year and 3.5 is that new Firefox for 2009. In fact, the version released today was initially intended to be called Firefox 3.1, but Mozilla decided that there were enough new features to jump to a 3.5 version number. Some even argue that “4.0” may have been more appropriate given the dramatic improvements.

If you have been following the development of Firefox, then you already know that the big news in Firefox 3.5 is the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, which offers substantial speed improvements over version 3.0. Mozilla claims that Firefox 3.5 is twice as fast as 3.0 and more than ten times as fast as 2.0. Recent benchmarks show that Firefox is, in JavaScript performance, still significantly behind Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, but well ahead of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Other new feature include an improved and more responsive URL bar, a reduced memory footprint, a new private browsing feature, improved tabs and session restore, updated anti-malware and anti-phishing features, and enhanced color profile support, which promises sharper and more brilliant images. And yes, there are more add-ons for the browser as well. At the time of this writing there was a library of more than 6000 add-ons for Firefox 3.5.

Firefox 3.5 can be downloaded (7.7 MB) free of charge from Mozilla’s website.