It was back in April when I first mentioned about Firefox 3.6 (Namoroka). At that time Mozilla had indicated a release date of around May 2010 and much bigger ‘goals’ of what was going to be included in this release. Now, fast forward 3 1/2 months to this past Monday’s Mozilla Project Weekly Status Meeting….suddenly the time line as well as the ‘goals’ for Firefox 3.6 have dramatically changed.
First, the time line has been moved up by about 6 to 8 months. Mozilla is projecting a final release of Firefox 3.6 by mid to late this fall as a “minor update”. This is going to be built on the new Gecko 1.9.2 branch (Firefox 3.0 = Gecko 1.9.0 Firefox 3.1/3.5 = Gecko 1.9.1) which is expected to go live on August 1st. with the first Alpha build (3.6a1) scheduled for release July 31st, only 2-days after the planned code freeze on July 29th.
It is going to be interesting see if Mozilla is able to stick to this very aggressive release schedule for Firefox 3.6. Going from first Alpha to final release in 3 to 5 months is unheard of. For a point of reference, Firefox 3 took 18-months from the release of the first Alpha in December 2006 to the final release in June 2008. Firefox 3.1/3.5 was a little faster at 11-months. As for planned features, I am not really sure. I know the Visual Tab Switching Behaviour which was yanked in Firefox 3.1b2 is coming back. However, I am not sure if Multi-Process Support is part of the 3.6 release plan.
Firefox 3.7, which currently does not have a ‘project name’ is planned for release sometime in the Spring of 2010. Again, a really aggressive release schedule. From the Mozilla Wiki are these potential new features:
1. Embracing Glass: Toolbar and Tabs using Glass. Buttons translucent and slightly glossy to meld with the toolbar. Raised 3D lookachieve tactile “feel”.
2. Page Button: Connect the Page button to the left side of the tab area. Directly connected to the Page.
3. Tools/Bookmark Bar: Connecting the Tools button to the side of the Window to emphasize the fact that it is used for customizing and changing the UI. Adding a button next to that to toggle the Bookmarks Bar which is turned off by default.
Now of course, the million dollar question: Will Firefox 3.6 & 3.7 be released as planned? In my honest opinion I have going to have to say no. The What’s Next For Firefox? post was the first announcement for Firefox 3.1 (now 3.5) with an expected release at the end of 2008. Further it was to include features that were ‘planned, but not ready for the Firefox 3.5 release’. I am not saying their release time frame goals are impossible, just unrealistic. Especially, the 3.6 Alpha 1 release two days after the code freeze…oh wait…I suppose that could be obtainable, it is just an Alpha build after-all.