Firefox 4 nearly ready, but IE9 may be faster

The Mozilla Foundation has announced the release of Firefox 4 RC1, earlier this week. This is a feature-complete release, and could even morph into a final release with no further changes, particularly if Mozilla is keen to steal some thunder from the imminent arrival of Internet Explorer 9, which Microsoft has just confirmed will be available from Monday.

Firefox 4 will, like its rivals, be much lighter in weight than the current version (3.6), which will ensure better performance. Like Chrome and IE9, the user interface has been redesigned to maximise screen real-estate for viewing web pages. It will be available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

There are no significant changes from the last release (beta 12), and it appears Mozilla has concentrated its efforts on bug-fixing plus tweaking performance and compatibility. It has been a frustrating few months for Firefox 4, as the original planned release has been delayed a number of times as coders have struggled to lock down the code -- over the course of 12 beta releases, over 7,000 fixes have been made.

Early indications suggest that Internet Explorer 9 will be quicker than Firefox -- a major coup for Microsoft in its attempts to regain market share. Firefox aficionados will, however, be pleased to see that version 4 is significantly quicker than its immediate predecessor. Mozilla also plans to change the development cycle going forward in order to speed up feature development, so Firefox 5, 6 and 7 are likely to be released by the end of the year.

Firefox 4 RC1 is open source, and out now for Windows (Windows 2000 or later), Mac (OS X 10.5 or later) and Linux

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