It's been a long time in coming, but Firefox 3 has at last gotten out of beta.
The first Release Candidate (RC1) of the popular (and, quite simply, best) browser has been launched today and it represents something of a milestone since at this stage features tend to be locked down as attention is switched to fine tuning.
Based on the Gecko 1.9 web rendering system, developer Mozilla says users will benefit from over 14,000 updates compared to Firefox 2.0. Among them are improved performance (up to 10x in Java-based apps), faster rendering, reduced memory leaks, bolstered security and improved stability.
Most notable for end users however are integrated malware protection, a download manager with pause and resume functionality, an overhauled bookmarks system, full page zooming and a redesigned interface with themes to better match Vista, Mac OS X and Linux styling.
Sadly Mozilla has yet to say how many RCs it expects Firefox to go through while it posts the usual warnings about pre-release bugs and add-on incompatibilities, so those of a tender disposition had better stay away from now. For the rest of you: surfs up!
Update: Word from Mozilla is a second RC will appear in early June with a final launch version appearing in the middle of the month. Get working on those add-ons, third party coders.