Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 Coming on March 10

Yesterday Mozilla updated its release schedule to include Firefox 3.1 Beta 3, set to go live on March 10th at 2pm PST. Whether or not it actually lands in the hands of public end-users is another question.

Believe it or not, Firefox 3.1 hasn't seen a major upgrade since June 2008, however hopeful users seeking new features and improvements of the Internet browser can expect to see Beta 3 to go live on March 10. This is, of course, will only happen if the current version actually went into code freeze last night, and Mozilla kicks off the QA testing later today as originally scheduled.

So what's taking the new beta so long? According to this blog post by Mozilla's vice president of engineering Mike Shaver, the "upvar" patch and a handful of other JavaScript patches have held up its release. "That patch is getting close, but the continuing and great work on fixing other final-release blockers means that we're accumulating a lot of changes on the 1.9.1 stream that would benefit from wider feedback from our beta testers," he wrote in the post last week. "To that end, we're going to wrap up beta 3 in the next week regardless of upvar status."

Last week, Shaver also mentioned that the team decided to release a fourth beta, scheduled to hit the public six weeks after Beta 3's release. This fourth beta will serve as testing grounds for Mozilla's new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, video, Places and "other eagerly-awaited improvements as well as feedback from Beta 3." This announcement also confirmed Shaver's statement from weeks ago, saying that bugs in the TraceMonkey engine were slowing things down, and that the developers were considering a fourth beta.

But as of Monday night, Mozilla had not completely resolved the TraceMonkey issue, thus consumers will see Beta 4 addressing those issues when released in April. Progress of Firefox 3.1 has been fragmented since its original 2008 launch date, held back by various bugs and the development of TraceMonkey. Just this year alone, Beta 3 experienced two major setbacks, first in mid-January and then again a week later. However, several Firefox developers felt that Beta 3's development process was taking too long, especially in light of TraceMonkey.

"Without Tracemonkey, we probably could have shipped 3.1 (final) by now (or, if not now, within the next month), since other areas would have been under more pressure to finish sooner," said David Baron back on February, "and since some of the things we've been adding to the blocker list lately (in Layout, anyway) feel a lot more like blockers than 3.1 blockers."

Hopefully Mozilla will stay true to the schedule and release Beta 3 on March 10. However, more delays will only keep Firefox from gaining ground once Microsoft releases Internet Explorer later this month; Apple's Safari 4 went into public beta last week.

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  • ADM-86
    GO FIREFOX!(had nothing better to say :D)
  • Anonymous
    Do internet browsers matter at all anymore?

    What is Firefox going to do? Change the color of my back button? Firefox hasn't really changed since it came out...except under the hood...which is never anything to get excited about.

    They revolutionized tabbed-browsing and then...?

    Does anyone still care?
  • maddoc
    For the love of all that is holy:

    "This is, of course, will only happen if the current version actually..."