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'Bon Echo' Becomes Firefox Beta 1

Make no mistake about it, Mozilla Bon Echo is Firefox 2.0.

Developers and testers who downloaded the first three alpha versions of Mozilla's next-generation Firefox browser saw the Bon Echo moniker in the title bar, and for the program folder and desktop shortcut. Bon Echo is a reference to a Canadian provincial park.

But now the browser is officially Firefox and it's in Beta 1, set to be a publicly available download today.

Beta 1 improves upon many of the features introduced in the first three Alphas with bug fixes, new support and expanded functionality.

Among the improvements is support for JavaScript 1.7 , tabbed browsing behavior changes, inline spell checking in text boxes and expanded support for the search plug-in format.

Firefox 2.0 supports the same Amazon open search based inline search box format as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.

Mozilla also improved the Add-Ons manager for Firefox extensions and themes. According to Mozilla's release notes, updates to the extension system provide enhanced security allow for easier localization of extensions.

The Beta 1 release according to the original Mozilla schedule was expected to appear in June.

However, in late June Mozilla developer Mike Beltzner noted that due to the number of outstanding blocking bugs targeted at beta 1, the milestone would be slipping a bit. The posted schedule still has a Beta 2 set for July, though it's unclear at this point whether or not that target is still possible.

Internet Explorer is also chugging along its development cycle for the IE 7 release.

Microsoft released the third beta for IE 7 at the end of June.

Among the changes in IE 7 Beta 3 is the ability to re-order tabs, something that the current production version of Firefox 1.5.0.4 can do today.

The browser market, which IE has dominated since the end of the first browser war with Netscape, is continuing to shift slightly.

New research from Amsterdam based firm OneStat shows that Firefox usage may still be gaining on IE, particularly in the U.S.

Global usage for Firefox is up by 1.14 percent since May to nearly 13 percent in July. In the U.S., OneStat currently pegs Firefox browser usage at nearly 16 percent.

According to OneStat, Firefox greatest usage penetration is currently in Germany where it commands a 39 percent share.