After many months of hard work and a few weeks overdue, Mozilla has released Firefox 1.5 to the world. In the time that we have waited, a lot has changed. Opera went free, Safari had an update with Mac OS X 10.4.3, and even Microsoft promised a more feature laden IE 7 for Windows Vista. All the browser changes or talk of changes makes the 1.5 release of Firefox a little less underwhelming than when we were all testing it way back when as DeerPark Alpha, yet the 1.5 release does move significantly pass the 1.0 version to include such things as Javascript 1.6, an updated Gecko rendering engine, a much needed auto update feature, and overall improvements in speed. Somehow 1.5 feels just right for this browser, like it’s finally starting to feel like an actual competitor to the main stream IE. Definitely on Windows, Firefox is a definite alternative for users who want tabs, but don’t feel comfortable with Opera.

In the update process, many extensions were lost, and it has become clear that Mozilla has tightened up extensions to a point, where third party developers need to be a little more precise about what they want to add, and security has once again become a focus for Firefox development.

More importantly, the long process from 1.0 to 1.5 has not only made Microsoft put together a new IE, but it was made Mozilla developers take notice of how long their actual update cycles were taking, and they too are now pushing for shorter release cycles and security updates. We can only wait and see how long 2.0 or in between updates, like perhaps 1.6 will take.

In the meantime you can download Firefox 1.5 from any of these sites: