Mozilla is inching even closer to finalizing the next version of its Firefox web browser, with the company today unveiling to the public its first release candidate of Firefox 3. They are pitching the update to early adopters, web developers and members of its community for testing and feedback purposes.

Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which according to the Mozilla team has received more than 14,000 updates, including better performance, stability, rendering correctness, memory usage, code simplification and sustainability.

Perhaps equally important is the fact that RC1 will more accurately serve as a reference point for developers of Firefox add-ons – which are undoubtedly a huge part of the browser’s appeal – so that they can check their extensions work with the new version of the browser before the final version gets released presumably next month. As usual, Firefox 3 release candidate 1 is available for download here.