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06 September 2010, 10:23

Start of feature cull for Firefox 4

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Firefox Logo Mozilla has confirmed that it has started culling features for version 4.0 of its open source Firefox web browser. According to the Mozilla Platform Meeting Minutes from the 31st of August, the first feature that will be removed is the Account Manager, previously only rated as "at risk".

The Account Manager feature only graduated from Mozilla Labs at the end of April this year. Discussing the initial news that it would be added to a future release of Firefox, Mozilla Labs developer and Firefox Sync Lead Engineer Dan Mills said that the Account Manager would make it easier "for users to create new accounts with optional randomly generated passwords, and log into and out of them with just a click." The overall aim of the new feature was to make signing into websites a better and faster experience for all Firefox users. Planned supported authentication schemes included HTTP Authentication, OpenID and others.

The non-profit organisation behind the Firefox browser also said that several other features currently rated as "at risk" could be removed before the final stable release, including silent updates on Windows systems, Inspector and Web Console. Other planned Firefox 4 features appear to be safe for the time being.

Firefox 4 is based on version 2.0 of the Gecko rendering platform – the Firefox 3.6 branch uses Gecko 1.9.2 – and features a new Add-ons Manager and extension management API. Other changes include a new ' tabs on top' layout, various new features for web developers and the integration of Firefox Sync – formerly known as Weave – for synchronising user bookmarks, passwords, preferences, forms, history and open tabs between Firefox installations running on different PCs or on mobile devices.

The latest development release of Firefox 4 is the fourth beta from the end of August – a fifth beta release is expected to be arrive tomorrow. A first release candidate (RC) for Firefox 4 is currently scheduled to arrive in the second half of October. However, the final release date has yet to be confirmed.

Firefox binaries are released under the Mozilla Firefox End-User Software License Agreement and the source code is released under disjunctive tri-licensing that includes the Mozilla Public Licence, GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. The current stable release of Firefox is version 3.6.8 from the end of July.

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