Firefox 1.5, which debuted Tuesday night on the Mozilla Web site, is the most significant change for the browser since the non-profit Mozilla Foundation released Firefox 1.0 in November, 2004. Among the most prominent changes is an automatic update feature that will download security patches and other software updates in the background, prompting the user to install the changes when they become available.
Automatic update support, while possibly the most anticipated new feature in Firefox 1.5, was also one of the most problematic for Mozilla developers, causing a series of persistent glitches during the product's beta-testing and release candidate stages.
Other significant new features include improved pop-up ad blocking, usability enhancements for users with physical disabilities, security and privacy enhancements, and internal changes designed to load and render Web pages more quickly.
Firefox 1.5 was originally slated for a late summer version 1.1 release under the code name "Deer Park." After several development-related delays and pauses to release interim security patches, developers proposed combining Deer Park with a planned late-year Firefox 1.5 rollout. The finished product includes all of the major features planned in the Mozilla Foundation's technology roadmap for the Firefox 1.1 and 1.5 releases.
Firefox 1.5 is available for free download from the Mozilla Web site.