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When it finally ships later this year, Firefox 4 will have gone through at least twelve beta releases since. The first beta was released in July 2010 and the final release is now set for around later this month. Going forward, however, Mozilla's director of firefox development Mike Beltzner envisions a very different release schedule. Indeed, if it is up to Beltzner, we will see Firefox 4, 5, 6, and 7 later this year as the organization changes the way it defines major versions and ships updates.

Usually, when we talk about plugins that crash our browsers, chances are that we are talking about Flash. Today, however, Mozilla announced that it is blocking the Skype Toolbar from its Firefox browser as it "is one of the top crashers of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, and was involved in almost 40,000 crashes of Firefox last week." The Skype toolbar examines every page you load for phone numbers and then re-renders these as clickable Skype buttons that enable users to initiate Skype calls right from their browser.

Firefox 4 is running behind schedule, but today, Mozilla released the 9th beta version of its popular browser. This new version is mainly focused on improving speed and only features small interface enhancements. Thanks to a plethora of changes under the hood, Firefox now also starts significantly faster and complex animations will be smoother. Mozilla also notes that it has improved the bookmarks and history code, which should make bookmarking faster as well.

Mozilla is slowly marching towards a general release of Firefox 4. Today, the non-profit launched the 8th beta version of its flagship browser. As expected, after 8 betas, there aren't any major new features in this latest version (though Mozilla promises to add a "do not track" feature before the final release). Instead, Mozilla is now focussing on fit and finish. In today's new version, the focus is on making it easier to set up Firefox Sync and the new look and feel for the add-ons manager. The new version also offers improved support for WebGL for 3D graphic visualizations on the Web.

Opera just released the 11th version of its desktop browser for Mac, Windows, FreeBSD and Linux. For a while, Opera was just an also-ran as Firefox and Chrome battled for the speed crown and market share in the browser business. Over the last year or so, however, Opera staged quite a comeback in the desktop arena and version 11 is the current culmination of this work. Here are the top 5 new features that make Opera 11 worth another look.

Since its launch 2 years ago, Google Chrome always offered three different builds of its increasingly popular browser: stable, beta and developer. While regular users could always stay with the stable build, early adopters could opt for the beta and developer channel. The developer channel features weekly updates, while beta channel users only see and update or two per...