Firefox Mobile has been in alpha release since October 2008, but according to the developer’s wiki update, a milestone release for Windows Mobile could be coming the first week of February. The browser, codenamed “Fennec” is a slimmed down version of Mozilla’s Firefox desktop browser.
Currently, users of Windows Mobile devices seeking a non-beta browser are limited to Internet Explorer Mobile, Opera Mini and Mobile for their mobile browsing needs. A part of the iPhone’s success was the integrated Mobile Safari browser and its ability to render webpages as how they would appear on a desktop computer, which competitors such as Microsoft and RIM were sorely lacking in their offerings. As Mozilla readies its launch of Fennec for a wider audience, it may also indicate the start of a mobile browser war.
Mozilla is choosing the HTC Touch Pro as its device of choice for this next milestone release. The Touch Pro sports a 480×640 touch display with a full QWERTY keyboard. Expectations are that performance will be much improved over the initial Alpha release on the Nokia N810. According to Mozilla’s own Acid 3 test, as reported by The Unwired, the preview release of Fennec achieved a 88/100 score running in Windows Mobile, which is impressive to say the least. As a comparison, the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser achieved 74/100 on Apple’s 2.2 firmware.
It will be interesting to see how the latest release stacks up against the current browsers and even that of the untested Palm Pre browser. Given Firefox’s large developer’s community and its market share climbing above 20 percent in 2008, Mozilla seems to have a worthy contender. Mozilla certainly plans on leveraging its success on the desktop with the release of Fennec.
Based on the same gecko engine as the open sourced Mozilla Firefox desktop brower, Fennec promises to be as simple, compatible, secure, fully integrated and retain developer support. However, Mozilla does not have plans to port the browser over to the iPhone OS or Google’s Android platform at the moment. It is important to note that this milestone release may not be a public release and could be seeded to developers only. We will update you as more information becomes available.