Just as it looked like a release candidate was in sight, the Firefox 4 dev team has hit a roadblock that could seriously set back the launch of the popular browser's next version.
After Beta 10 was released last week, it looked like there would be one more version before a release candidate was posted, clearing the way for Firefox 4 to launch at the end of this month. However, according to a planning meeting yesterday, at least two more betas are due, with a third release being a real possibility if the need arises.
Although the number of blocks to the stable release is slowly going down, there are still a few show-stopping issues, with the biggest at the moment being an issue with Microsoft Hotmail. Apparently, a recent change to the e-mail service's code sends Firefox into a continual refresh loop which appears to be caused by non-standard code on the server.
The problem with this is that - rightly so - Mozilla won't change its code to make an exception for Hotmail, since it has rigorously adhered to web standards. This means that the final release could be held up while the developers in Redmond change their code. Even if the fix is small, waiting on a third party could still hold up the browser's progress, which could delay the final release, pushing it back even further.
Obviously it's better to work on the software until it's finished, rather than rush out a browser that's still full of show-stopping bugs. However, Mozilla is going up against Chrome's incredible six-week development schedule, and even Microsoft's next-gen browser is expected to hit Release Candidate status in the next week or so. By pushing Firefox 4 back into March, the devs risk losing ground in the incredibly competitive browser market.