Mozilla Releases Firefox 2.0 Beta, Invites 3.0 Suggestions

As Firefox lovers await version 2.0 of the open source browser, Mozilla is already moving ahead with plans to develop the next version — and it wants your help.

Mozilla issued Release Candidate 3 (RC3) of Firefox 2.0 on Monday. It is expected to be the final version of the browser before its official launch. At the same time, Mozilla announced a wiki that invites the public to help it brainstorm features for version 3.0.

“We are currently in the early development stage for Firefox 3, and would like to collect all the ideas for feature enhancements in a single place,” the company said on its new wiki. “Our goal is to create a single index that lists what sorts of things we’re thinking of doing.”

Continued Improvement

The open source community has already started offering ideas. Some are suggesting user-controlled style sheets. Others are pining for the creation of desktop shortcuts that work with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). Still others recommend customizable status bars.

“Companies working in the Web 2.0 space are doing more beta, and also facilitating more community feedback and participation. The process is not new, it’s been done in the past — Microsoft even did it in the 1990s for DOS and Windows — but it’s taken on a rejuvenated role over the last couple of years,” JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox told LinuxInsider.

Too Soon for Three?

By its nature, open source offers users a greater sense of participation in software evolution. By participating in the wiki-based suggestion box, participants get the thrill of possibly seeing their two cents added to the development process of the next version.

However, with Firefox 2.0 yet to be released, is it too soon to begin speculating about version 3’s new and improved features? Wilcox doesn’t think so.

“Firefox has seen lots of success and interest … since the release of version 1. It makes sense for Mozilla to continue to push ahead. They don’t look behind or worry about the competition. They look forward with their community,” he noted.

Browser Battle

Firefox continued to gain ground on IE in September, according to the latest browser usage statistics from Net Applications. Microsoft’s browser has been slipping in usage rankings since Mozilla launched Firefox in November 2004.

IE fell to its lowest market share percentage in over two years last month with 82.1 percent, according to Net Applications. Mozilla’s open source browser was in second place, boasting 12.46 percent of the browser market.

However, IE 7 is scheduled for release later this month. Mozilla may be attempting to strike first with a double whammy — a Firefox 2.0 version and the buzz around its new wiki.

“Mozilla knows Firefox has an advantage over Internet Explorer during the upgrade cycle for businesses,” he said. “IE 7 could potentially impact many different applications and could disrupt the workflow of businesses. Firefox is just another application on the computer. It’s lower impact, but the browsers offer similar benefits.”

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