Next Firefox version bumped to 3.5, another beta to come

The next release of Firefox, code named Shiretoko and currently in development, will be labeled 3.5 instead of 3.1 as it had been originally planned.

According to today’s Firefox meeting notes, the version bump aims to reflect more accurately the many changes introduced since the release of Firefox 3.0, the latest major release, last summer. These includes several changes to tabbed browsing, significant improvements to web standards compatibility, a deeply enhanced JavaScript engines, and several new privacy related including an all new private mode that allows users to clear all their browsing activities at the end of a session.

The next beta, Beta 3, will still be labeled as 3.1 while all the necessary changes are made on Mozilla’s several development tools.

The code for Beta 3 is now frozen and builds are already being produced. Final release is expected for next week following QA procedures.

It also seems Beta 3 will not be the final beta as it was originally thought, but a fourth beta should follow in the near future with a chance of including some more new besides fixing the about 100 blocker bugs currently identified.

These small new features are a series of very specific developments (sprints) that may be ready on time for Firefox 3.5, including tab searching via the awesome bar, some additional minor Windows theme retouches, an about:me page that profiles a user’s web usage based on his history, the ability to clear history for more precise periods of time, and a few others.

Update: Mike Beltzner, Firefox product lead, clarifies that despite what the meeting notes may have suggested, the version bump is not a final decision at this point.

26 thoughts on “Next Firefox version bumped to 3.5, another beta to come”

  1. Hey Percy —

    Could you please change “will” to “probably will” or “may”? The notes were perhaps written too strongly. At Wednesday’s meeting we brought up the proposal for discussion, and it met no serious objection. The next step is to take the discussion to the mozilla.dev.planning newsgroup for further and broader feedback, which I plan to do today.

  2. Actually, I’d support this. Shiretoko has lots of major changes. There are deep infrastructure changes (Tracemonkey) and welcome interface changes (private browsing and further polish). If there were a public vote I’d weigh in as “for” the version bump. Fx 3.1/3.5 will look and act differently from 3.0 in a good way. If Moz Co. want to trumpet this, they can and should.

    This is coming from a guy who felt Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 were good, but “meh” releases. Loving 3.x.

  3. Why not call it FireFox 4? The new JavaScript engine alone should warrant bumping the major version number, but when you add in the compatibility changes, calling it FF 4 makes sense.

  4. I think 3.5 would make sense, psychologically.

    A .1 release would have felt right if it was released a couple of months after 3.0. To the “upgrader”, 3.5 feels more interesting after this amount of time, without being “inflated”. (I’m guessing the release will be close to a year after 3.0 which was released on the 17th June 2008.)

  5. I wonder where these leaves Ubiquity, though, as they had originally said they were planning to build it into 3.2. Could we possibly see it earlier, in what is now 3.5, or are they going to push it off further? Will we really see a 3.6? Past experience hasn’t really gone past a .5 release beyond bug fixes. I’d be surprised if they broke that now.

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  7. I think 4 betas indicates that the release was too ambitious or the first beta was premature. Feels like the Netscape 4 days.

    1. Well, they keep shunting features into it and Tracemonkey is still maturing (rapidly). So it seems like what started as an incremental release blew up into a .5 release due to competitive pressures. And so, more (necessary) betas.

  8. Being a user since 2002, I’m not surprised at all. If I remember correctly Firefox 1.1 was relabeled 1.5 and there was quite a fuss about it. Personally, I don’t find the asynchronous Firefox/Gecko version labeling disturbing now, and I didn’t find it disturbing then. However, I find it interesting that Mozilla hasn’t been able to estimate their final releases correctly even once since the rebirth (which gave name to Phoenix and now is Firefox).

    Every major milestone release have been delayed since then – and even if the dot releases was meant to add the features that had to be ditched from the original major release plan due to lack of time (or whatever) the releases historically have been renamed (think “Places”).

    As said above, I’m not surprised at all. The killer feature of 3.1 has been TraceMonkey all the time. But the delay of finishing TraceMonkey has postponed the release and made way for other features. And also made them must-have features in a 2009 browser release (such as Private Browsing). This has resulted in several features not planned for 3.0 making 3.1 (which is good thing). Thus, releasing the next reincarnation of the bird (or rather fox) as 3.1 would seem as an idiotic thing from a marketing point of view.

    This year Firefox celebrates 5 years as a stable release. As a project Firefox celebrates 7 years. Just look at the version labeling and draw your own conclusions: ~1 year of development since the last consumer release equals a +0.5 increment release. ~1.5 years of development since the last consumer release equals a +1.0 increment release.

    Though Mozilla thought they were able to release a small increment release in shorter time they failed (once again) and the release took (will have taken) 1 year to complete. Thus, it would be marketing failure to label the 3.1 release as 3.1. I agree.

    Firefox 3.1 is dead. Long live 3.5. It will do much better in competition with Safari 4.0 and Internet Explorer 8.0. Decimals count! And I look forward to Firefox 4.0 in the fall of 2010.

  9. @Nuss
    “And I look forward to Firefox 4.0 in the fall of 2010″
    More like late 2011. A 2012 delay wouldn’t surprise me either.

    1. And…there’s nothing wrong with that. I want quality, well-tested software. Firefox now has a hard-earned reputation as a solid web platform, and mustn’t endanger that with a crappy release. Even the relatively modest (1.5, 2.0) releases weren’t BAD by any stretch.

      Also, delays HELP extension and theme authors because they need more time to understand new features and APIs.

      So, dear Moz.org and MozCorp: please continue to understand, cooperate with, and learn from the competition without blindly following them.

      Thank you.

  10. Does this mean that someone has to create a fork in order to get a 3.1 release.

    “And…there’s nothing wrong with that. I want quality, well-tested software. Firefox now has a hard-earned reputation as a solid web platform, and mustn’t endanger that with a crappy release. Even the relatively modest (1.5, 2.0) releases weren’t BAD by any stretch.”
    Yes, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with it. While the rest of the OSS community is lining up with a 6 month release interval Mozilla seam to ignore the rest of the world compleatly. The fact that there was no release between 2.0 and 3.0 was idiotic.

    Functionality that is not ready should be pushed to the next version and what is ready should be released as planned. This is what Ubuntu, Fedora and many other OSS project does.

    I guess we have to look around for another browser that doesnt use Microsoft planning.

    “Though Mozilla thought they were able to release a small increment release in shorter time they failed (once again) and the release took (will have taken) 1 year to complete. Thus, it would be marketing failure to label the 3.1 release as 3.1. I agree.”
    No. It didnt fail. They have obviously abandoned the incremental aproach and are gonna continue with large blobs and make users wait for functionality that have been ready for release until other browsers already have something better.

    Perhaps the 4.X idea is the best. Then they could follow the netscape tradition of not releasing a new browser until they have lost all market shares. Thats the way this seam to be going…

  11. “As said above, I’m not surprised at all. The killer feature of 3.1 has been TraceMonkey all the time.”
    No it hasnt. The Video tag is the buzz that everyone has been talking about. It has been ready for deployment for quite a while. Noone knows why it havnt been deployed.

  12. I’ve also been a bit disappointed by the lack of foresight by Firefox developers in choosing a deadline and then sticking to it. It reminds me of a certain company (Microsoft). Regardless, I commend the developers for their continuing work on a browser I use everyday.

  13. 3.5 should be give significant improvement and more impression to us. Beta 4 will be release on middle of april. I wish Mozilla would able to achieve the schedule target.

  14. Are they going to be like IE8 that took more then a year to come out only to fail the thing crashes and won’t go to any website at all IE 8 sucks , lets hope FF 3.5 or what ever is going to be does not suck

  15. Quite franckly, I’m extremely disappointed by Firefox for a while now. It used to be the fastest browser around, and has turned into a bloatware with functionality I don’t care about.

    I have to restart Firefox on a regular basis, because it’s very often stuck while loading a page. Talk about progress…

    I was an early adopter (around 0.9 if I remember correctly), but I switched to Chrome, which is what Firefox ought to be.

  16. Firefox is still “the best” overall, but right now speed is “the worst.” Firefox 3.0 typically takes 10 seconds to load in OSX, and JavaScript, while fast, is slower than Safari 4, Chrome, and Explorer 8 by far. Moreover, the interface speed is molasses. Yet given the superiority of Firefox in other aspects, such as features and security, using Firefox is still almost a no-brainier.

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