As expected, Mozilla released Firefox 1.5 last night.

The developers promise significant performance and usability upgrades, security and privacy enhancements, best-in-class support for Web standards, and greater customisation options.

Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker said: "Firefox is proof of our passion for promoting choice and innovation on the Web and making the Internet accessible and productive. Firefox 1.5 is the easiest browser to install, use, customise, and keep up to date and secure."

New features and auto-update

Dozens of new features offer a better user experience, improved security, better performance and accessibility.

The new "drag and drop" feature within tabbed browsing helps to better organise page viewing. The browser's capacity to find and subscribe to RSS feeds has also been revamped. It's also easier to adjust browser settings than before.

Firefox now has an Automatic Update system, which will handle security updates and new versions as they ship.

Users can also clear all private information, such as history and form entries, using one settings window.

The developers promise "Improved performance with a next-generation rendering and layout engine that speeds navigation between previously viewed pages through intelligent caching, and displays complex pages more accurately".

Big Blue helps too

The software also integrates new capabilities which IBM is distributing designed to make computing more accessible. In this case the browser can now be used with technology that reads Web content aloud; allow users to navigate with keystrokes rather than mouseclicks; and reduces the tabbing required to navigate documents.

Mozilla has also begun a new search partnership wirth Yahoo! in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, supplementing the agreement it holds with Google everywhere else.