Despite the fact that Firefox 2.0 was only released last month, Mozilla is to release the new version of its browser as early as next year.

The rival to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has increased its share of the browser market since the release of Firefox 2.0 to nearly 11% in the US, 22% in the UK, and an average of 23.2% across Europe.

While Firefox 2.0 has been successful, with an average of 500,000 downloads every day since its release, it wasn’t the radical overhaul of its predecessor which some were expecting, with its anti-phishing software the main improvement.

The next version of its browser has been in development for a year now, and is planned to be a more comprehensive update.

Firefox boss Tristan Nitot said that Firefox 3.0 will take advantage of the latest built-in computing power to allow it to ‘render’ web pages more quickly. Firefox 3.0 is now available for beta testing.  

Microsoft’s IE7, despite early predictions of incompatibility with some websites, has performed well and was generally welcomed as a much-needed improvement to IE6.

However, if a new and improved version of Firefox is released next year, Microsoft may be forced to speed up development of the next version of Internet Explorer, to avoid losing more of its browser market share.