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The Mozilla Foundation late on Thursday released the next version of its open-source Web-browser suite.

The Mozilla 1.6 release, out in a beta version since December, includes expanded authentication support that is particularly useful for enterprises as well as greater integration with the GNOME desktop that is popular among Linux users.

Mozilla 1.6 is available for download through the Mountain View, Calif.-based foundation’s Web site and runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Since the beta release, which included the most significant new features, developers have focused on code clean up and testing, said Mozilla release coordinator Asa Dotzler.

The software is the foundation’s namesake suite that includes applications for Web browsing, e-mail, Web design and chat. But the foundation also develops a standalone Web browser, named Firebird, and an e-mail client, named Thunderbird. Both of those applications will be updated in the next few weeks, Dotzler said.

With Version 1.6, Mozilla adds support for a Microsoft-specific NTLM (NT LAN Manager) authentication mechanism into its Linux and Mac OS X versions in addition to the Windows version. Another new capability is support for GNOME MIME-type associations, allowing Mozilla to adopt the same associations as the GNOME desktop for determining which application to launch for particular file types.

eWEEK Labs took a look at the beta version of the GNOME 2.4 desktop environment. Click here to read the review.