Mozilla's Fennec goes alpha for Windows Mobile

Mozilla has released a Windows Mobile-targeted alpha version of its mobile browser, code-named Fennec, for download.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor
Mozilla has released a Windows Mobile-targeted alpha version of its mobile browser, code-named Fennec, for download.

Fennec Alpha 1 for Windows Mobile 6 was announced on Friday in a blog post by Brad Lassey, a senior software engineer at Mozilla.

The company, best known for its Firefox desktop browser, has been making progress on its handset-oriented browser. Fennec is already available in alpha form for the Maemo Linux operating system on Nokia's N810 internet tablet.

A pre-alpha build of Fennec for Windows Mobile 6 was released in February, but that version was plagued by memory-management issues. Lassey said these early memory issues had been ironed out for the alpha, through the use of the JeMalloc memory-management library. "This allows Fennec to manage memory much more efficiently," he wrote.

The Windows Mobile alpha was specifically designed for the HTC Touch Pro handset, Lassey said. However, he added that the browser's user interface had been rebuilt to make it more scalable to different devices.

"Fennec's user interface controls have been rebuilt to be entirely CSS-based," Lassey said. "This will allow us to more easily adjust our UI for various screen sizes and resolutions in the future. It also demonstrates how web technologies can be used to create compelling user interfaces. The look and feel will continue to evolve as we develop the product, but this release should give users a sense of the direction it's going in."

The new version of Fennec for Windows Mobile supports add-ons, which are a key feature for Firefox and a unique feature for Mozilla's mobile browser. Several add-ons have already been created for Fennec, including an autocorrect function for mistyped URLs, and a feature that allows Twitter messages to be posted from the browser's address bar.

The next stages of Fennec's development for the Windows Mobile platform would focus on performance issues, Lassey said. One set of optimizations will target graphics performance, while another set will address optimization for high-latency networks.

The engineer added that Fennec Alpha 1 for Windows Mobile 6 was only to be used by developers and testers, and should not be used for daily browsing tasks, as it contains various bugs.

The next update to Firefox, version 3.5, is currently in its beta-testing stage. Mozilla said in a developer note on Thursday that the new version will go to release-candidate stage in the first week of June.

This article was originally posted on ZDNet UK.

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