Firefox fans rejoice, for soon an actual release of Firefox Mobile will be making its way to your handset - as long as you're running Android, Maemo, or Windows Mobile that is.

In an attempt to challenge the current dominance of Webkit-based mobile browsers, The Mozilla Foundation's John Lilly has revealed to GigaOm that it is hoping to release a version of Fennec, the company's mobile browser, for Nokia Maemo handsets as well as those running Android - both mobile-oriented Linux distributions - and Microsoft's WIndows Mobile platform.

The current version of Fennec - which is available in an early alpha form for Maemo devices such as Nokia's latest N900 smartphone - is based on the Firefox 3.6 rendering engine, which is a step ahead of the engine used in the current desktop release of the browser. This technology means that when Fennec finally hits 'phones, it will offer the a complete browsing experience - in Lilly's words, "a browser that [does] everything - JavaScript, CSS, Flash, SVG [Scalable Vector Graphics], video and audio."

While the choice of Android - a platform which is seeing rapid growth - and Maemo - which Lilly believes could see massive success outside the US - were made due to the flexibility of Linux as a development and testing platform, Windows Mobile is likely to see the most interest: offering users the option of synchronising their Windows desktop installation of Firefox with their mobile device.

When asked why other popular mobile platforms - in particular Nokia's Symbian operating system as well as the extremely successful BlackBerry devices - weren't being considered, Lilly explained that the company was shying away from developing a Java-based verison of its browser, preferring to develop in C++. Lilly also said that reliance of Java had slowed down their development for Android, until Google released "Android NDK which uses C/C++, and that is what we program in, so we are now looking at developing Firefox for Android."

With a feature list that includes performance tweaks for ARM processors, full support for HTML5, and the option to install add-ons in the same way as the desktop edition, it's clear that Mozilla could well be on to a winner with Fennec.

Do you think that Fennec could be the mobile browser you're waiting for, or does Webkit still offer you everything you need? Are you surprised at Mozilla's reluctance to create a Java-based version - and thus open themselves up to a bigger user base - when Opera Mini has done so well? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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