Firefox 3.6 Bumped Until 2010

After many promises to deliver the next version of the Firefox browser — version 3.6 — this year, it turns out Mozilla won’t be able to deliver. According to a blog post, it won’t arrive until the first quarter, and Firefox 4.0 may also be delayed.

Mozilla had been shooting to deliver Firefox 3.6, code-named Namaroka, by the end of this month, after delivering the initial beta Oct. 30. It’s slated to deliver significant performance improvements, updates to the Awesome Bar, and integration of the Mozilla Labs Personas project, which provides themes and personalization in the browser. But now, Mozilla has posted that Firefox version 3.6 won’t arrive until next quarter.

Meanwhile, Mozilla is already at work on the next major release of Firefox: version 4.0. It was originally slated to ship late next year, but now Mozilla officials have begun to say that it will arrive late next year or in early 2011. It’s slated to incorporate Jetpack, Mozilla’s project aimed at making it easy for anyone to build extensions, and it will compartmentalize processes and tasks on a tab-by-tab basis — similar to Google Chrome — for improved stability.  Mozilla is also inviting the public to help design Firefox 4.0, through its latest Design Challenge, and is only days away from delivering its Firefox Mobile browser, code-named Fennec.

Development delays with Mozilla’s browsers are becoming more common. While the company leverages a huge community of enthusiastic open-source participants, it is also facing increasing competition from well-funded players like Google.  Now that Google and Mozilla are leading browser innovation forward with their cross-platform open-source offerings, a lot depends on how their release schedules compare next year.