Mozilla delivers Firefox 5 beta on schedule
Mozilla last Friday shipped the beta of Firefox 5, the latest step in its move to pick up the release pace of its open-source browser.
Firefox 5 is slated to wrap up on June 21.
The company's developers merged the changes made over the last several weeks in Firefox 5's less-polished "Aurora" channel to the beta on May 17, as planned.
It takes Mozilla time -- in the case of Firefox 5's beta, three days -- to run automated quality control tests and prepare distribution mechanisms after merging the code, the company noted earlier this month .
As befits the more frequent release schedule that Mozilla staked out last month , Firefox 5 sports relatively few major changes.
The two that Mozilla called out in a blog post Friday were support for the CSS (cascading style sheets) animation standard -- which has yet to win formal approval from the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards group -- and the inclusion of a "channel switcher" that lets users flip between Firefox's three editions of Aurora, Beta and Release.
Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari already support CSS animations.
Firefox 5 contains many more under-the-hood changes than Mozilla called out, however. The company listed 1,053 stability and other fixes in the detailed release notes accompanying the preview.
Firefox 5's user interface is identical to its predecessor, Firefox 4, which launched two months ago.
Under the new Firefox development regime, Mozilla engineers will add features as they're completed, rather than hold them while all work on the next upgrade is completed. If a feature presents problems during testing -- say in the Aurora channel -- it will be yanked, then re-inserted into a later cycle after fixes have been applied.
Like Google, which upgrades Chrome about every eight weeks, Mozilla will trade more releases for fewer new features and visible changes in each edition.
Mozilla may have denied copying Chrome's upbeat schedule, but analysts have noted the similarities and pointed out the need of all browser makers to step up the pace to keep up with the increased competition.