Firefox 1.5 Beta 1 is now available for download. This is the first Beta release of the next Firefox browser, to be released later this year, and it is being made available to the testing community for compatibility testing and to solicit feedback.
Note that this is not the final release of our Web browser, it has been made available for testing purposes only, with no end-user support. If that sounds scary, you'd probably be better off with the latest version of Firefox 1.0
The v1.5 Beta version can be downloaded here
Code-named Deer Park, Version 1.5 features automated patching and updates, which is as a key security enhancement. With the existing browser, users must download and reinstall new, full versions of the application when a security change is made -- something many end users don't want to bother doing.
Users will be told when an update has been downloaded and asked whether to install it, said Chris Beard, a spokesman for the foundation. Patches will go from megabytes to kilobytes in size, and Firefox 1.5 will check once per day for any updates.
Mozilla's Firefox 1.5 schedule calls for two betas -- the second about a month from now, after feedback from this first round of testing -- followed by an initial release candidate on Oct. 28. The final version is expected sometime in November or December.
The core Firefox 1.5 browser is still below 5MB in size, with numerous add-ons available to customize the browser and add capabilities.
There have been "refinements" to the browser's look and feel, but no dramatic changes. One added feature that users have asked for is "drag-and-drop tabs" that allow users who open multiple sites in Firefox tabs to reorder those tabs. There's a revamped user preference section, new pop-up blocking capabilities and faster browsing performance due to "intelligent caching,".
Mozilla has added Answers.com, eBay and Creative Commons, a site that collects text, music and other works licensed under low-restriction licensing, to Firefox 1.5 default sites. It has also expanded the number of search engines users can add to their browser's search box and highlighted some recommended extensions it supports, such as the Sage and Feedview RSS readers.