Mozilla upgrades browser

The open-source Netscape offshoot has decided to continue developing the browser suite until its next-generation components are ready

The Mozilla Foundation has debuted its second significant Web browser release since its formation last year, but has put off plans to switch from the current integrated browser suite to a collection of separate applications.

Version 1.5, which appeared in October, accompanied the launch of a more consumer-friendly Web site, telephone customer support and a CD for those who don't wish to download the software. That version was originally announced as the last to use the original Mozilla code base, which integrates applications such as an email client, browser and Web page composer into a single suite.

But due to user demand, the group decided to continue developing the suite until its eventual replacements, the Firebird browser and Thunderbird email client, are ready for prime time. Mozilla developers decided to switch to a more streamlined browser due to the success of Apple's Safari, which is based on a bare-bones open-source browser.

The update, available on Mozilla's Web site, contains a number of incremental improvements and bug fixes, including integrated Ask Jeeves searches, cross-platform NTLM authentication and vCard support in Mozilla Mail.

The Foundation, created to shepherd the development of Mozilla following the implosion of AOL Time Warner's browser development efforts, is keen to show off the flashy features available in its software, at a time when developers are complaining that Microsoft has allowed its dominant Internet Explorer browser to go to seed. Microsoft has terminated the development of IE as a stand-alone browser and has stopped developing IE for the Mac, allowing bugs in technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to linger, according to developers.