A new Firefox-based browser promising to capture the new social aspects of the Internet has been released in beta form.

Flock ties in features such as file sharing, RSS feeds and Web logging, according to the company's co-founder, Bart Decrem, who helped develop the business model for the Mozilla Foundation and Firefox browser.

Decrem plans what he calls a "social browser" that will let users take advantage of the full next-generation Web experience. "The Web has evolved very dramatically from a big library to a library, shopping mall and increasingly a social space where people exchange information, communicate with each other and share information," he said.

The evolution of Web browsers, however, have not been as significant, he said. Though Firefox is different because it puts the user experience first and offers more security in comparison to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, current browsers are still very similar to 10 years ago, Decrem said.

The developer preview of Flock Browser showcases the inclusion of the "low-hanging fruit" of the more social side of the Net, according to Decrem. That is technology for more efficient bookmarking, automated RSS feed sign-up and organisation of feeds; and technology that "takes the headaches out of blogging", he said, such as the ability to highlight text on a Web page and immediately have it appear in a new entry in a user's blog.

Flock also will support podcasting, and photo and other file-sharing technologies as it evolves, Decrem said. Developers are putting out a new build of Flock Browser every one to two days, with the hope of having a consumer-ready beta of Flock Browser available inDecember.

Michael Gartenberg, for Jupiter Research, said Flock's focus on offering features that are popular with the most contemporary Web users - those who are more apt to switch browsers - will likely put pressure on Microsoft, as well as bite the hand that is feeding the startup, Mozilla's Firefox.

Flock hopes to partner with companies such as Yahoo and Google to include search boxes, and with other online services such as Amazon.com and Typepad blog-hosting service.