Yet another delay hangs over release of Firefox 4

Microsoft's Hotmail among buggy culprits stalling showtime

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Mozilla is bracing itself for yet more beta releases and possibly another delay of its Firefox 4 browser.

The open-source web tool outfit pushed out a 10th test build of Firefox 4 last week. It has now confirmed that two more betas will definitely follow before a Release Candidate version of the browser lands.

"The current plan is to build when the remaining betaN hardblockers are done," said Firefox release manager Christian Legnitto in a blog post. "This is heavily dependent on fix and blocker creation rate. I will be doing some analysis to give people a possible date range, but as far as development is concerned everything is the same (fix as many betaN hardblockers as quickly as possible)."

Hotmail is one of the culprits hindering the process. Hundreds of people playing with the latest test build of Firefox 4 are struggling to read their emails via Microsoft's online web mail service.

"The problem begins after clicking on an email to preview it or going into a different folder. When I do this, the page continually reloads," wrote one tester.

Worse still, some are anxious that the Hotmail bug may stall the release of Firefox 4, because the team needs to rely on Redmond's help with the bug.

"Being able to browse the web with Firefox means relying on third parties to maintain compatible code all the time," wrote Henri Sivonen, who is an independent contractor consulting for the Mozilla Corporation.

"This wasn't a Gecko [Mozilla's web platform] regression around Jan 18th. It was a change to Hotmail code around Jan 18th, so it's pretty reasonable to apply the fix to Hotmail code.

"I realise that it's inconvenient for beta users to wait for the fix to get deployed, but I'd like to ask for a bit of patience here. Unfortunately, beta testing comes with a higher risk of incidents like this than using 'final' browser releases."

On top of that, Mozilla could yet unleash a 13th beta of Firefox 4 if it fails to squash any remaining severe bugs in the feature-complete browser.

"B12 has a small enough list of bugs that it's plausible it will be the last beta, though we're not locking that up, since some of the plugin work needs to crystallize before we can assess timing risk," reads Mozilla's latest meeting notes.

The organisation has been slowly working towards a tentative late February release date. But the introduction of more test builds suggest the team might miss that schedule, which could once again push back the arrival of Firefox 4. ®

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