After 12 betas, 1 release candidate, and more than 10 months of work, Mozilla has determined that Firefox 4 is ready to join the competing high-wire acts of modernized browsers. The company has announced a release date of March 22. The current Firefox 4 release candidate is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Firefox 4 was originally projected to arrive around October or November of last year, but was delayed as work on new features and integrating graphics card-powered hardware acceleration took longer than expected. GPU hardware acceleration is the short-term Holy Grail for modern browsers because it allows them to leverage high-powered graphics cards to give the browser an edge in rendering complicated in-site graphics faster.
The current stable release of Chrome 10 only offers partial hardware acceleration, while Internet Explorer 9 won't work on Windows XP precisely because of the hardware acceleration hang-up.
Internet Explorer 9, released earlier this week, touted a first-day download count of 2.3 million. That's a strong number, although Firefox 3 scored more than 7 million downloads on its first day, around two and a half years ago.