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Firefox 8 hits the Web. Enjoy while it lasts.

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Reuters

(Read caption) Firefox 8 is a go. Here, a Red Panda, also called a Lesser Panda or a Firefox, is shown at a newly opened venue for Asian animals inside the Hong Kong Ocean Park zoo.

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On Tuesday, Mozilla took the wraps off Firefox 8, the latest iteration of its popular Web browser. The update, which one blogger has accurately called "modest," includes integrated Twitter search, some improved graphical capability, and improved control over those pesky add-ons. 

"Sometimes you download third-party software and are surprised to discover that an add-on has also installed itself in your browser without asking permission," reads the blog post announcing the new update. "At Mozilla, we think you should be in control, so we are disabling add-ons installed by third parties without your permission and letting you pick the ones you want to keep." 

Fair enough. But, hey, have you noticed how Mozilla is basically rolling out a new Firefox every month or so? Firefox 6, after all, went live in August, along with a beta version of Firefox 7. And then, at the end of September, Mozilla pushed out Firefox 7, which ramped up speed and performance numbers, and won some generally favorable scores from critics. Now, a few weeks later, comes Firefox 8. 

What gives? Press awareness, basically. Way back in the early days of the browser wars, developers usually waited at least half a year – and usually closer to a year – before overhauling a Web browser. Then, in 2008, Google introduced Chrome, and with it, the idea of high-velocity, and less extensive, software updates. (Mozilla currently terms this "the rapid release development cycle.") 

With every new rapid release comes a wash of Twitter buzz and media attention; that media attention keeps the browser in question fresh in the mind of prospective users. Which brings us to our final point: Firefox 9 is due to hit next month.

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