New beta out for next-generation Firefox browser

Full release will follow beta next month

Mozilla has released a new test version of Firefox 2.0, which will be the next major version of its popular open-source browser.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 2 features an improved user interface and a limited version of the phishing protection feature that Mozilla is developing for the browser. More information on the Beta 2 release can be found here.

Beta 2 also comes with improved search capabilities, a spellchecker for web forms, and jazzed-up tabbed browsing capabilities.

This second beta release will probably be the last beta version of Firefox 2.0. Developers are now planning to ship a nearly final "release candidate" edition of the browser on September 19, with the finished product to be available at the end of October.

Mozilla had been hoping to have Firefox 2.0 finished by September, but that date was pushed back recently to give developers more time to squash the growing list of bugs in the beta code.

Both Mozilla and Microsoft are rushing to finish major updates to their browser software. Late last week Microsoft posted the first release-candidate version of Internet Explorer 7, and it is expecting to ship the final version of the next-generation browser by year's end.

Research company OneStat.com estimates that about 13% of web surfers now use Firefox. The Netherlands-based company pegs IE users at 83%.

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