Mozilla ships first public beta of Firefox 3

Bugs or not, Mozilla on Tuesday released Firefox 3 Beta 1, the first public step towards the next significant release of the alternative browser.

The new version of Firefox is running about a quarter behind schedule, and has most recently been a target of criticism over its handling of bugs. While the company maintains that such concerns are overblown, it does appear the most significant issues have been addressed.

Even so, the release notes show some problematic bugs. Neither the new Yahoo Mail nor Windows Live mail will work in the release, and the malware protection blacklist is inoperable. Google Maps prints turn-by-turn directions incorrectly, and in Windows, .WMA and .WMV files do not run properly.

"These beta releases are targeted to Web developers and our testing community to gain feedback before advancing to the next stage in the release process," Mozilla said. "The final version of Firefox 3 will be released when we qualify the product as fully ready for our users."

Mozilla plans to add additional features in future betas, and said to expect this first beta to be "a bit rough around the edges."

Specifically, Mozilla is looking for feedback in the areas of new security features, and ease-of-use functionality. It would also like to hear what users think of its new personalization options and platform features, and improvements to the browser's performance.

New features include: malware protection, anti-virus integration to the download list, full page zoom, easier add-on installation, one-click bookmarking, better rendering architecture, and faster page loading.

More information can be found on the Mozilla Developer Blog. A final release date for Firefox 3 has still not been specified, although many are expecting it to come in the first quarter of next year if the betas go smoothly.

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