a wiki page detailing its plans for the next version of Firefox, codenamed "Gran Paradiso". The target release date is sometime in the third quarter this year and it hopes to release a major version of Firefox every year. While Firefox is still aiming for a broad mainstream audience, Mozilla recognizes that its strengths for normal users are its extensions and customization. It notes on the wiki that "Microsoft will continue to establish deeper ties from IE7/Vista to live.com & MSN" and even that other "web service providers" may introduce their own browsers (Yahoo? Amazon?). So Firefox is aiming to be the best general Web browser - e.g. it wants to be faster for AJAX apps.Mozilla has published
Among the mandatory requirements listed for FF3 are improving the add-on experience, providing "an extensible bookmarks back-end platform", adding more support for web services "to act as content handlers" - all of which show that Firefox wants to be an independent information broker rather than a simple HTML renderer in its next version. Microformats will be a key part of this too - and this is currently listed as a "highly desirable" feature for FF3. Also good to see extensible identity management listed there. All of this encourages best-of-breed apps to flourish, which is an excellent direction for Mozilla to take with Firefox. It probably also plays into Google's hands, as they have a number of best of breed web apps - and are acquiring them at a great rate too (YouTube, JotSpot, Writely, etc).
Also in the works is Microsoft's IE8. According to ActiveWin.com, a Microsoft official at CES told them that work has already begun for IE 8 and it may be released as a final product "within 18-24 months". IE8 will apparently "compete even more directly with Firefox". Looking ahead, it's obvious that IE will continue to hook into the advanced functionality that Vista offers.
So if anything, I'd hazard a guess and say that IE8 will head back into ProprietaryLand - leaving Firefox to become more of a vehicle for independent web services, particularly those from Google. While IE7 and Firefox 2 were more alike than different (feature-wise they're practically identical!), with IE8 and FF3 we will likely see the two biggest browsers head off into different directions.