Version 3.0 of the FireFox browser has "too many" bugs, and only 20 percent of them will be fixed before the software is released next year, according to Mozilla.

Mozilla has asked developers to prioritise bugs in the upcoming Beta 1 of the software, so that the most important can be fixed. But according to notes from a status meeting this week, that will leave about eight in 10 bugs untouched.

"We have 700 bugs currently marked as blockers," the notes read. "That's too many. We're asking [requiring] component owners to set priorities on blockers, as a first pass of what bugs should be Beta 2 blockers. You want it to be about 10 percent of blockers, or what you can get done in four weeks."

Mozilla usually refers to a bug as a "blocker" when it is serious enough to justify postponing a release.

"We'll be doing pretty much the same thing for Beta 3, which means that something like 80 percent of the [approximately] 700 bugs currently marked as blockers will not be fixed for Firefox 3," the meeting notes continued. "The hope is that by 'fixing the most important blockers' several times, we'll get to a point where we can cut the rest without feeling bad about the quality of the release. And if we do feel bad, we can add an extra beta or two."

Developers have until late today to prioritise the blockers in their areas.

They should judge each bug, said Mozilla, "largely on how much the bug would 'prevent users from browsing the web on a daily basis.' This allows bugs to be compared on equal footing whether they are crashes, regressions, Leopard bugs or even long-standing bugs that we had hoped to fix in Firefox 3."

The exception is any security bug, which should automatically be considered important and fixed.

Mozilla has spelled out bug-triage plans several times since last week, when Mike Beltzner, Firefox's interface designer, asked developers to focus on fixing memory-leak, performance and web-compatibility issues, as well any major regression errors - bugs unintentionally introduced to the code of Firefox 2.0.

Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 was stress-tested last week and will be again tomorrow. While plans haven't been officially outlined, it's clear from the Mozilla wiki that there will be at least two betas, and possibly a third, before the browser is ready for release.

Firefox 3.0 is months behind schedule. Mozilla said this summer that it would reach Beta 1 in late July, move into second beta in September, with a final release by the end of the year. Now, the company's website alludes to getting Beta 2 ready before Christmas.