Mozilla scraps "Firefox 3.1", announces "Firefox 3.5"

Chicago (IL) – Mozilla posted it’s second release candidate build of Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 on its server over the weekend. We can expect the “final” Beta 3 to be released sometime this week giving us another glimpse of Mozilla’s next generation browser. We already knew that the changes and improvements over version 3.0 are substantial, but we were surprised to learn that Mozilla decided that the name “Firefox 3.1” would not be appropriate anymore: Instead, the browser will be called Firefox 3.5.

The candidate build packs 17 MB and runs stable on both Mac and Windows. It is still a beta release and we would not recommend using this browser on production systems. But it is certainly a great way for enthusiasts, developers and web-designers to test-drive Mozilla’s newest technology. For the final Beta 3, expect further improvements in the handling of online video, software updates, add-on compatibility and performance.

Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 was scheduled for release on March 10 after a code freeze last week, and is now slightly behind schedule. Beta 4 is due for release on April 14, but that date is more of a guideline than a deadline given the number of remaining bugs — nearly 100 were found so far, at least three of which are still “Priority 1 Blockers” (serious bugs).

Fixing is “On Track“ for the largest bugs, according to Mozilla and is focused on upgrade compatibility, performance and better controls for video.

Beta 3 is mostly a bug-fix release. However, according to the Mozilla Developer Center pages, Firefox 3.1 will be renamed to Firefox 3.5 after the Beta 3 release. The reason: Pure marketing on one side, and the substantial number of improvements as well as the large number of new features, such as private browsing and the Tracemonkey JavaScript engine, on the other.