Firefox 2.0 is officially due to be launched on Tuesday, according to several sources, although industry watchers said it may have sneaked out early.
As of lunchtime on Tuesday, expectant users were still waiting for the much-anticipated launch of the new version of Mozilla's popular browser. It is thought that the launch will not officially take place until 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, or 1 a.m. on Wednesday in the UK.
Some reports have claimed that it's already possible to download Firefox 2 from the Mozilla Web site. However, it's not clear if this is in fact the final version. A Mozilla spokesperson told Infoworld that it can't guarantee that this is the final release.
The release of Firefox 2.0 comes less than a week after the official launch of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) browser. The two are expected to compete aggressively. While IE 7 has a much larger installed base, Firefox has consistently grown its market share since the launch of Firefox 1.0.
Mozilla is expected to boost its market share further with the release of Firefox 2.0.
According to market share figures from Net Applications, one of the most widely used compilers of browser stats, Firefox's share of the browser market reached 12.4 percent in September, its highest total since the launch of Firefox 1.0. The increases appeared to come at the expense of Microsoft, which saw IE remain far ahead of everybody else but with a slightly smaller share, 82.1 percent, down from 84.4 percent in June.
Not everybody agreed with that, though. Web metrics company OneStat reported that IE grew its market share of the browser market by 2.8 percent between July and September.
In the same period, Firefox's market share dropped 1.4 percent to 11.5 percent, according to OneStat.
Mozilla is preparing for the official launch of Firefox 2.0 in the time-honoured way, by hosting a party. Around the world, people will have the choice of attending a party or hosting one themselves. At the time of writing, some 412 parties has been announced with some 3,507 saying they will attend. Details are can be seen at www.firefoxparty.com.