In the gaming world it’s quite typical for a developer to tell the media they will ship “when it’s ready”, but another delay over at the Mozilla campus has pushed the Firefox 4 release out at least another month, and will likely pit the new browser up against some stiff competition from Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome 10 by the time it’s released. According to Christian Legnittom, Manager of Firefox releases, the final planned beta probably won’t ship for several more days while they try to iron out at least five major bugs on their “hard” blocker list.
All of the bugs in question seem to be related to the new hardware acceleration code which offloads rendering duties to the GPU where appropriate to save CPU cycles. One of the bugs is labeled as “critical”, one as “major”, and three additional that are “normal”. Assuming that Firefox Beta 12 ships sometime before the end of the month, this would put a release candidate out on the street by mid March, however, they did clarify that a beta 13 isn’t out of the question if new problems are discovered.
The Mozilla team at this point is no doubt acutely aware of the progress Chrome has made over the past 12 months, and they are trying to implement new strategies to keep their development times from turning into Internet Explorer years. Mike Beltzer, director of Firefox, has laid out a very aggressive schedule for Mozilla going into 2011 which would see us beta testing Firefox 5, 6, and 7 this year.