It seems Mozilla has been inspired by more than just Chrome's UI! According to the new roadmap laid out by Mozilla for the year 2011, Firefox 4 is just the first "major" release to come this year, and will be followed in quick succession by Firefox 5, 6 and 7 all releasing in 2011.
This 3-month release cycle is similar to the model Google Chrome used to follow, and abandoned for an even faster 6-week release cycle.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]This might seems kind of odd since Firefox 4 has been in beta longer than 3 months! However this perhaps is the point, to have fewer features delivered faster rather than many features delivered after long waits and extended beta testing periods.
Other than just the dry fact that there will be 4 FIrefox releases in 2011, Mozilla has also revealed some information about what direction these releases will take. The priorities for Firefox 4 remain the same, and some basic targets such as making Firefox more responsive ‒ such that the delay between a click and action should never be more than 50ms ‒ improving stability, and performing "optimizations to hide network latency " shall continue to be important even after Firefox 4.
Mozilla also has plans for some major new features throughout the year (according to the Mozilla Firefox roadmap)
- Firefox 5:
- Account Manager
- Simple Sharing UI
- UI Animation
- 64 Bit on Windows
- FIrefox 6:
- Web Applications
- OSX 10.7
- JS Optimizations
- Firefox 7:
Of course these releases are still a little far away, and the immediate goal is Firefox 4. The roadmap is likely to change, and in fact the Firefox 7 is still tentative (with "?" marks after the features).
Some of these features such as simple sharing are already available in the form of add-ons. The F1 project by Mozilla Messagingmakes it easy to share links from Firefox by connecting to a variety of services. This is similar to how Firefox Sync and FIrefox Panorama, both integral parts of FIrefox 4 initially emerged as add-ons. The account manager too is available as an add-on and was initially a part of Weave itself ‒ more information on account manager is available here.
64-bit builds for Windows are already available for pre-release versions of Firefox, and with Firefox 5 will probably be a part of the stable release.
Electrolysis (e10s) is Mozilla's project to make Firefox run each tab and add-on in a separate process to make to less crash-prone and more secure.
2011 seems like a big year for Mozilla; Firefox 4 is already one of their most significant releases, and it seems that Mozilla has significant changes planned this year. After unsettling Internet Explorer over the last few years, Mozilla now has new challenges to face, and it seems to be taking the best lessons from how other browsers work. In true open source fashion, by not solving a problems that has already been solved.