Mozilla delays Firefox 3.1 beta release by three weeks

Needs more time to evaluate feedback, recover from Firefox 3.0 auto-update effort

Mozilla has pushed back the first beta of Firefox 3.1 by several weeks, according to notes posted online by the open-source developer.

The "code freeze" deadline for Firefox 3.1 was changed last week from September 9 to September 30, a Mozilla executive said in a message added to the mozilla.dev.planning forum last week.

According to Mike Shaver, Mozilla's interim head of engineering, the delay was necessary so developers would be able to incorporate feedback on the earlier alpha editions, and to account for a recent shift in resources to assembling and launching the automatic update offer to Firefox 3.0.1 to users of the older Firefox 2.0.0.16.

"Code freeze" is Mozilla's term for locking down builds of the browser in preparation for crafting an alpha, beta or release candidate version as it works toward a final edition. It usually precedes the actual ship date of a version by anywhere from a few days to several weeks, as the intervening time is required to do internal testing, assemble the release build and prep it for launch.

Assuming Mozilla meets the September 30 code freeze deadline, Beta 1 would likely be available for download sometime in October. Mozilla has not set a ship date for Beta 1.

Shaver also announced that Firefox 3.1, which Mozilla has touted as a fast-track update it hopes to push to users by the end of this year or early in 2009, will have a second beta. Code freeze for Beta 2, said Shaver, will be October 28.

Firefox 3.1 is to incorporate several additions and enhancements that were struck from Firefox 3.0 to keep that browser, released in mid-June, on schedule. One of the few new features Mozilla hopes to integrate into 3.1 is a new JavaScript interpreter, dubbed "TraceMonkey," that the company claims dramatically boosts JavaScript performance.

The current Alpha 1 version of Firefox 3.1, which has been codenamed "Shiretoko," can be downloaded from Mozilla's site in versions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

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Gregg Keizer

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