Mozilla has revealed that it plans to release the first Firefox 3.5 release candidate (RC) in early June.
If Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate (RC) is declared suitable for final release, Mozilla could release the browser before the end of the first half of the year as planned, despite delays to two previous beta versions of the browser.
Mike Beltzner, the director of Firefox, was optimistic in a note published on the site. "We're setting an aggressive code freeze target of next Wednesday, May 20 for Firefox 3.5 RC," he wrote.
'Code freeze' is a term Mozilla uses to describe a development stage when it blocks changes in anticipation of handing off the build to internal testers.
"We'll check back against schedule on Tuesday [May 19], but (it) looks like the finish line is very much in sight!" said Beltzner. Assuming Firefox 3.5 RC's code is frozen on Wednesday, Beltzner said that the preview would ship the "first week of June."
Three weeks ago, Mozilla released the fourth, and final, beta of the browser. At the time, the company was still citing a final release before the end of June.
Last year, when Mozilla was making its final push on Firefox 3.0, it used a pair of release candidates, the last of which was issued June 4. It launched the final version two weeks later, on June 17.
If Mozilla sticks to just a single release candidate for Firefox 3.5, it could still ship the completed browser next month. As of Sunday, Mozilla's bug-tracking database showed that developers have 54 'blocking bugs' - problems that would stymie the final release - to address.
It's possible, however, that Mozilla will need multiple release candidates to eradicate all of Firefox 3.5's bugs, a fact the company acknowledged earlier this month. "While we will aim to make RC1 perfect, previous Firefox releases have needed up to 3 RCs before we're ship-ready," said Mozilla in notes posted on its site from a May 5 meeting.
According to US-based web measurement company Net Applications, Firefox owned 22.5 percent of the browser market last month.
For its part, Mozilla said last week that Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 is being used by about 650,000 users, a statistic it tracks as Active Daily Users (ADU) and obtains by counting the number of update requests the browser makes each day to the company's servers.
The current test version, Firefox 3.5 Beta 4, can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in 63 different languages from Mozilla's site.