Mozilla Foundation Previews Rebranded 'Firefox'

The Mozilla Foundation is previewing its next generation "Firefox" Web browser. Formerly named Firebird and prior to that, Phoenix, Firefox is the latest stop on the Mozilla development roadmap that has included two name changes due to conflicts with other open source projects.

A multitude of new features have made their debut in the latest release, including a new download manager and improvements to bookmarks and the handling of extensions. In conjunction with its preview of Firefox 0.8, Mozilla has announced a preview of the Thunderbird e-mail client which is also available for download.   

To promote the name change, the foundation is kicking off what it dubs a "grass-roots Get Firefox" campaign. Firefox developers vow to raise the bar for browser technology by zeroing in on ease of use, performance, robustness, and standards compliance. To encourage adoption by businesses and educational institutions, Thunderbird -- the browser’s companion at arms -- has been geared to the enterprise.

Over 200 browser extensions have been authored by community members to extend Firefox's capabilities beyond its core design.  Extensions have been the genesis of tools to check spelling, remove banner ads, or even to search through eBay and other popular sites from within the Firefox toolbar.

Mac OS X users will also notice a new default theme intended to blend into the desktop environment.

In his personal online journal, Mozilla team member Ben Goodger remarked that the name change from Firebird to Firefox was, "the primary reason for the six week delay in shipping our 0.8 release."

During the period of those six weeks, several high profile security lapses have dogged rival Microsoft. Several vulnerabilities reported by the security firm Secunia enabled URL spoofing, subsequently leaving users of Internet Explorer at risk of falling prey to phishing scams. Microsoft has since updated its browser to strike a URL syntax behavior which enabled the exploits.

A new version of Internet Explorer that aims to lock down the browser will ship with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

The vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer led Goodger to take a stab at Microsoft in his journal, saying, "In recent months there has been what seems a constant stream of new security flaws coming to light in the dominant Windows web browser. Couple this with bombardments of advertising, spyware and other Web annoyances, the magical innocence of the internet that many of us remember has faded. There has never been a better time to kick IE off the desktop. Take back the Web."

Users interested in heeding Goodger's advice, or simply testing out Firefox, may download the software via FileForum. Mozilla 1.6 remains the capstone release intended for production environments.

An updated version of Firefox is due out within the March and April timeframe. The forthcoming release will feature tweaks to extensions, SmartUpdate, a Linux installer, and seamless migration.

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