Firefox nears final launch

The much-anticipated open-source browser reaches a major development milestone, as an official test version debuts.

A final test version of open-source browser Firefox has been released, giving users a peek at what are expected to be the official features of the free software.

The latest test version of Firefox 1.0 fixes about 250 bugs that have been reported since the preview release of the browser earlier this year, according to the Mozilla Foundation.

"If all goes well testing these builds, then we're on target for our 1.0 release in early November," Asa Dotzler, the Mozilla Foundation's community quality advocate, wrote in a Web log posting Wednesday.

Spun off last year by Time Warner, the Mozilla Foundation is the open-source group that produces both Firefox and its predecessor, the Mozilla browser.

The group is making the final test release of Firefox 1.0 available via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

The organization also is calling on supporters to chip in on a full-page advertisement in the New York Times scheduled to coincide with the Nov. 9 launch of the browser.

As Internet Explorer has taken increasing heat for security woes, Firefox has gained in both stature and numbers. Version 0.8 of the browser was downloaded 3.3 million times within four months. Version 0.9 reached 6.5 million downloads in three months, and the preview release received 5 million download requests in just a month.

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