Mozilla exec: Firefox 4 will arrive in February

One more beta version is still to come before the open source browser’s final release.

Firefox 4 is nearly ready for release, a recent post on Mozilla's developer mailing list suggests.

"Team, we've worked tremendously hard on Firefox 4, and it's time to ship it," wrote Damon Sicore, Mozilla's senior director of platform engineering, on Tuesday. "I'm seeing the same burst of excitement and activity that we've seen in the endgame of every release. We must press hard now."

Currently, about 160 "hard blockers"--or significant bugs--remain in the project, Sicore noted. Typically, it takes about six weeks to reach the release candidate (RC) stage once that number is down o about 100, he added.

'Firefox 4 Is Gonna Kick Ass'

In the coming weeks, then, the Firefox development team should aim to clear those hurdles by the beginning of February and ship a final version of the open source browser before the end of next month.

In the meantime, "bug counts demand another beta," Sicore asserted. "We'll drive the beta bugs to zero and ship another beta. If we can't get them to zero in reasonable time, we'll repeat, deliberately."

Testing will be a top priority during that process, he added.

"We need *everyone* to help in testing," Sicore wrote. "Specifically: Do not disable Flash, Silverlight, or other major plug-ins as we need as many people testing these as possible. Windows users: We need to know if you are affected by hardware acceleration causing crashes or other issues."

Once it's done, however, "Firefox 4 is gonna kick ass," Sicore reminded the project's "tired and stressed" developers. "You should be fiercely proud of it."

'Do Not Track' Capabilities

Amid an ever-intensifying competition with Chrome, Internet Explorer and other Web browsers, Firefox 4's development has been watched with close scrutiny.

Last fall, for instance, it was revealed that Firefox 4 will feature a huge speed boost through the addition of the JägerMonkey JavaScript engine. Also of particular note have been indications that the new release will include "do not track" capabilities.

Other new features expected in Firefox 4 will focus on ease of use.

No. 1 in Europe

Firefox recently attained top market share spot in Europe, according to StatCounter. Worldwide, it holds the No. 2 position, behind only Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Following Firefox in order of worldwide market share are Google's Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera, StatCounter reports.

Only time will tell how these figures might change once Firefox 4 debuts. According to this newest timetable, though, it looks like we won't have to wait too much longer to find out.

If you're interested in helping to find and squash the last remaining bugs in Firefox 4, visit Mozilla's beta download page and download the latest release. Find a bug? Make sure you tell Mozilla about it.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

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Katherine Noyes

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