Mozilla Not Interested In Expanding Firefox’s Market Share

If you’re a Firefox user who was a little surprised by the rather sudden appearance of v.5, and the concomitant deprecation of the brand-new v.4, you’re not alone. Mozilla’s rapid-release program has roiled more than a few corporate IT programs.

Some corporate IT managers are unhappy with Mozilla’s decision to push out new editions of Firefox every six weeks with its new rapid-release program….

When Mozilla launched Firefox 5 on Tuesday, it immediately retired the predecessor, Firefox 4, from security support, meaning it will not patch vulnerabilities in the three-month old browser. Instead, Mozilla considers Firefox 5 to be not only the newest edition, but also the security update to Firefox 4.

That may work for consumers, but it doesn’t for enterprises, said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC.

Not so much for consumers, either. Several add-ons I rely upon — Google Toolbar, most notably — are now disabled until they’re updated to the new version. While I expect that will happen in fairly short order, the same issue facing IT managers — whether to put 5.0 into the testing cycle in the hope that it will still be supported when the time comes to roll it out — also faces add-on developers.

When Firefox 6 ships — it’s now slated to debut Aug. 16 — Firefox 5 will be retired, and users will be encouraged to upgrade to that version to receive security updates and any new features packaged with the new browser.

The same will hold true on Sept. 27, when Firefox 7 is to launch, on Nov. 8 with Firefox 8 and on Dec. 20 when Firefox 9 debuts: In each case, the preceding edition will be retired.

If this were a one-time event because version 4 has major issues, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But it isn’t. Mozilla has made the inexplicable decision to announce that their product will never be viable long enough to be useful. At least, not to anyone who needs it to be a reliable platform.

Bad idea.

(H/T R.S. McCain)

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    What confused me most about this release (and its good to hear everyone was affected by it–I thought as a beta tester it was just an oddly timed roll out to the testers), is that v5 does not seem in anyway significantly different than v4. Yes I get that there are some back end differences, but shouldn’t it be considered v4.1?

    If by December Firefox 9 has no significant user ability differences, why put users, corporations, and its own developers through such a hassle?

  2. Boyd says:

    I was definitely caught by surprise by the Firefox 5 update notice. But as usual, I’m not going to upgrade Firefox until my two main extensions, Google Toolbar and Roboform, are updated for the new version.

    Or I can just stop using Firefox altogether and rely solely on Chrome. That’s not a move I want to make (especially since Chrome inexplicably doesn’t have Google Toolbar available), but it wouldn’t take me long to get used to just using Chrome, I expect.

  3. PJ says:

    If by December Firefox 9 has no significant user ability differences, why put users, corporations, and its own developers through such a hassle?

    Internet Explorer 9
    Chrome 12

    Mozilla is suffering from version number envy.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    PJ,

    That’s about as good of explanation as any.

  5. sam says:

    Hmmm. Sounds like Apple of the 90s. Give Opera a try.

  6. Ken says:

    So annoying! I wonder if third-party add-on developers will even bother trying to accomodate 5, 5, 7, and 8; I’ve been ignoring the update myself, because I don’t want to see my add-ons disabled. And, pondering a change to Opera (don’t care for Chrome) just months after I finally gave up on IE, especially if my only choices are to either leave myself exposed to known security flaws in the old version or disable some of the tools that made Firefox my browser of choice in the first place. It seems like they’re trying to kill their own browser- I know I for one would not have made the switch if I knew they were going to be playing these games.

  7. I tried Chrome and liked it, but opted to stay with Firefox because I use a lot of add-ons and it was just easier to maintain the ones I have with Firefox. If my add-ons aren’t going to be supported then I might as well use something else.

  8. DC Loser says:

    I’m still on Firefox 3. They just pushed up an update, 3.6.18, the other day. I tend to stick with what I know.