Mozilla has released a new test version of Firefox 2.0, which will be the next major version of its popular open-source browser.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 2, released on Thursday, features an improved user interface and a limited version of the phishing protection feature that Mozilla is developing for the browser. More information on the Beta 2 release can be found here.

Beta 2 also comes with improved search capabilities, a spellchecker for web forms, and jazzed-up tabbed browsing capabilities.

This second beta release will probably be the last beta version of Firefox 2.0. Developers are now planning to ship a nearly final "release candidate" edition of the browser on 19 September, with the finished product going out the door by the end of October.

Mozilla had been hoping to have Firefox 2.0 finished by September, but that date was pushed back recently to give developers more time to squash the growing list of bugs in the beta code.

Research company estimates that about 13 per cent of web surfers now use Firefox. The Netherlands-based company pegs IE users at 83 per cent.