Earlier this weekend Mozilla released Firefox 3 Alpha 7 to the public. According to the original development cycle we were supposed to be onto the Beta builds already, but Mozilla has run into some setbacks…particularly with performance. They are still continuing on their 6-week release schedule, and here’s what’s changed in the latest version:

  • Favicons are displayed in the address bar history:
    Firefox 3 Favicons
  • "Real" page zoom functionality [read]
  • Visit history is now 180 days by default instead of just 9 days
  • Simplified interface for launching external links (ex. itms:// or mms://):
    Firefox 3 Launcher
  • Updated Google anti-phishing protocol [read]
  • Domain awareness appears to have been removed [read]

And what’s coming up in future versions:

  • They will unify the add-ons management system (themes and extensions) with the plugin management system (Flash, Quicktime, etc…)
  • Make it easier for users to engage with the support community and report problems
  • Integration with Vista’s parental control system
  • Only let users save a password after it has been verified that the login succeeded
  • Create a platform for Places that allows syncing with a remote server (such as Del.icio.us)
  • Improved performance and ease-of-use for bookmarks and history storage
  • Blacklist malicious sites
  • Resizable search bar

Most of those things have already begun development, and should have no troubles making the final release. There are other high-priority items, such as a new Firefox theme, that don’t even appear to have been started yet and could end up jeopardizing an on-target release.

The next milestone, which is yet to be specified as an Alpha or Beta build, is scheduled for September 18th. I believe that the release of Firefox 3 is going to get pushed back into 2008 because they still have a good amount of work left on it. If I had to guess I would say that it will be in January or February of 2008, because they will want at least two Beta releases, and a few release candidates which should all be spaced several weeks apart.

Download Firefox 3 Alpha 7
Source: Mozilla and Mozilla Links
Thanks for the tip MetaMan!