Firefox, the open source web browser from Mozilla, is reaching a new level of maturity with the availability this week of the next major release.
The browser has slowly been growing in popularity. As many as 15% of web users are running Firefox, according to some industry estimates, which means e-commerce websites need to give consideration to supporting it.
New features in Firefox 1.5 include an automated update mechanism, improved pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing.
The browser now offers two additions to improve website development. Canvas, developed in conjunction with Apple, is designed to provide a simple way to display graphical data, based on World Wide Web Consortium standards. Scalable Vector Graphics is a scriptable graphics engine designed as an alternative to plug-ins such as Macromedia Flash.
Mozilla plans to release new versions of Firefox every six months to keep pace with changes on the web, said Mozilla vice-president Chris Beard.
Although the full browser is a 4.9Mbyte download, Beard said, through the automatic update feature users will receive 10Kbyte to 20Kbyte updates to the software. In addition, he estimated that security updates would be around 10Kbytes in size.
Firefox is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in more than 40 language versions.
Even Microsoft is supporting Firefox with a plug-in for the browser.