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Phoenix has been designed to improve upon Mozilla 1.1, which was released in August, and has additional features such as a new design, customisable toolbar and improved bookmark manager.
Mozilla is an open-source project launched by Netscape Communications, now part of AOL Time Warner, as a way of whipping up interest and volunteer involvement in its browser technology. Netscape released the source code for the Mozilla project in early 1998.
The Phoenix browser, which uses a large amount of the Mozilla code, is "a lean and fast browser" that loads in nearly half the time of Mozilla 1.1, mozilla.org said. The browser is written using XUL (Extensible User Interface Language), works on Linux and Microsoft's Windows operating systems and is designed to be cross-platform.
Mozilla.org warned that the Phoenix browser does come with some bugs, one example of which is that the browser does not allow users running Linux to tab through forms.
The Phoenix team is already working on Phoenix 0.2 which will include such features as a replacement for Mozilla's Wallet functionality called Satchel; a mechanism to enable and disable plug-ins selectively, and a download manager that improves on the existing Mozilla download manager.
Functions to manage user preferences are also "in the middle of a massive overhaul", mozilla.org said.
The core team working on the Phoenix project consists of Dave Hyatt, Blake Ross, Pierre Chanial and Asa Dotzler, with additional support coming for the mozilla.org staff.
The Phoenix browser is now available free for download at www.mozilla.org.