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Firefox version 3.1 expected this month

The next major version of the popular browser may be available as early as this month, hot on the heels of the 3.0 release.

Just weeks have passed since the final release of Firefox 3.0 and Mozilla has suggested that an early alpha version of 3.1 may be available for download as early as this month.

The news emerged at a Mozilla meeting this week when a draft schedule for Firefox development was discussed.

The release, a developer preview, would be followed by a beta in August and a full release scheduled in early 2009.

This schedule has yet to be approved, but Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, has previously said that he hopes to ship the software even sooner, by the end of 2008. The short delay between updates is partly due to the fact that many of the features expected in the upcoming release are already "nearly complete", according to Schroepfer. They represent code that narrowly missed inclusion in version 3.0.

Expected in the new software are improvements to the bookmarking functions and an update to the awesome bar, as well as several improvements to the rendering engine courtesy of Gecko 1.9.1, which is under parallel development.

Mozilla claims that over 8 million people downloaded Firefox 3.0 on the day of its release. This is expected to become a world record for the number of downloads on a release day, although officials from Guinness have yet to verify the figure.

While the new browser has been well received, it has been dogged by several connectivy and page rendering bugs, which are expected to be addressed in a 3.0.1 update shortly.

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