Why is Firefox releasing a new version every 6 weeks?

June 21 2011 saw the release of Firefox 5, almost three months after its earlier version Firefox 4 was released. By the time users got acquainted with the usage of Firefox 4, Mozilla sent them a new release version in three months.


And now its surprising to hear the Mozilla Firefox team announce the release of Firefox 6 by August 2011, i.e. in six weeks time. And Firefox 7 will follow suit and shall release after six weeks of Firefox 6. And Firefox 8, and 9, 10 … At this rate, by the time IE10 gets released in late 2012, Firefox will be on version 16!

What is Firefox upto?

Releasing a new version every six weeks and withdrawing support for the earlier version looks like a bad decision taken by the Firefox team. Users will hardly get time to utilize the browsing experience that Firefox offers to the fullest. Instead they will be forced to lookout for the new version as soon as it gets released because the earlier version(s) wont hold any good, according to Firefox.

Companies wont be able to keep up with this release pace of Firefox due to their vast infrastructure and settings involved. And when confronted, guess what? The Firefox team bluntly replies, “Expect zero support“.

And yes, this decision by Firefox led to champagne-popping in Redmond with huge grins and an aura of relief. This will actually help Microsoft solidify its once shaken Internet Explorer position and increase its share among web users. We can predict a lot of Firefox users jumping base to either Internet Explorer or Google Chrome after which Firefox cannot boast of “2 million Firefox downloads per day from regular user types“. Bah!

Its time somebody actually punched the Firefox team in their face and made them realize that this is a very bad decision and gonna cost them big time.

What do you think!? Why do you think Firefox took this decision and is it the right one!?

Posted by on , in Category General with Tags
Microsoft Student Partner | Computer Science graduate | Loves flirting with technology | Author at The Geeks Club | Lives on the web at @asrartheone

35 Comments

  1. amon

    they just want a cake every 6 weeks that is being sent by the IE team.

  2. Redk9258

    It’s just a number. I see absolutely no difference between Firefox 4 and Firefox 5. Normally when a software version number is increased, there is some notable change in features or the GUI. I just don’t see that in the last release of Firefox.

  3. BobbyPhoenix

    I like the faster updating, but having to notify everyone that they need to update is bogus. If anything they should just release it silently like Chrome does. Don’t prompt for it, and don’t make people look for it. Make sure all previous extensions work with the new release, and then release it, so the next time someone opens FF they will be automatically updated. No prompting, no “some extensions no longer work” notice, nothing but new features/patches.

  4. HiPStaR

    Agreed with this article. Some of my add-ons and plugins won’t work with the new version of Firefox and I have to keep checking the sites to see if there is an update to work with the new version of FF. Very annoying, especially if new version keeps popping up so fast. Going to ditch FF soon and use Chrome.

  5. Frank

    I think these are signs of desperation on the part of Firefox. Maybe they are trying to play catch-up!

  6. James_T

    @HiPStar: Just be patient! Add-ons that didn’t work on June 21st, work today (June 27th). Add-on writers will keep up to prevent other add-on producers taking their market share. It’s the add-ons that make FF such useful browser.
    Chrome is fast, but do you want to share all your browsing activities with others? Also the add-on support doesn’t match FF.

  7. Tangmeister

    ^^^^^^ CAKE!

    I think it’s pretty dumb. See, Chrome does release comparatively frequently, but that’s b/c every release is done silently and easily with little user interaction needed. And the changelog is not huge, and the version numbers reflect that; Firefox, on the other hand, is actually making the releases meaningless:
    1. They can’t really add anything meaningful every 6 weeks (Chrome’s major version releases are less frequent than the mini-updates, but actually offer something substantial)
    2. cont.
    3. cont.

    In six*x weeks i’ll have 100 reasons. 😉

  8. curiouso9

    ya. actually they speedup the build but its also reduce quality, firefox 5 have jquery improvement right? ok.. when im using firefox 5, im hovering mouse on jquery animation on my blog, my nvidia graphic card will make annoying sound. but on firefox 4 its ok. thinking im gonna report this, but better wait for final firefox 6. if that problem still occur, gonna ditch firefox maybe.

  9. jer

    In the glaring absence of any explanation, I have to come to the conclusion that they haven’t got a clue about what they’re doing, or at the very least they have no understanding of user needs and user loyalty. Every time they force another upgrade I lose a couple of my favorite addons, and is it my imagination or is Firefox getting slower, clunkier and more quirky with every release? There is a strange clue in the fact that some of the addons claim to be valid for Firefox 4 through Firefox 7. How do they know they’re valid for Firefox 7 unless they’ve seen the overall plan, and necessarily a pretty detailed version of the plan? Anyway the question still remains, why would the developers crash the whole basis of Firefox by destroying it’s speed and reliability, and why would they want to test the patience of the very loyal users by treating them like inanimate background scenery that is best left in the dark?

  10. Amit Shreyas

    it is a proof of continuous & dedicated support from mozilla.. we should manage it, because…..

    ie9 is secure,but slow & difficult to configure. chrome is faster, but not stable & secure. firefox is secure + fast + stable. so…..

    IE9 is the securest web browser…. CHROME is the fastest web browser….
    but overall FIREFOX is the best web browser.

  11. ErnieK

    Opera is my main browser (and has been since the time you had to pay for it) with FF as my second browser. I am seriously thinking of abandoning FF altogether because of this (future)continuous updating. I do not want to have to go looking for new plug-ins every few weeks. I do not want to have to continually be on the look-out for this update\upgrade every few weeks. I have avoided using Chrome but will now download and install it and get rid of FF.

    I think that they are going to lose a lot of users over this. But like all PC related companies, once they have the number to boast about the needs and concerns of the user becomes secondary.
    Ernie

  12. Nigel

    Firefox used to issue maintenance releases every 6 weeks or so.

    So the impact will NOT be as big as claimed – its just more of the same.

    The advantage that the Firefox team will be realising is that significantly more features will be fixed in a shorter period, most fixes appeared to be delayed until the next major release, and instead of around a year it will be every 6 weeks. Additionally features that were wanted are now available in a quicker period.

    Microsoft should be quaking in their boots – because both Firefox and Chrome are now adding new features on a regular basis as user demand needs it.

    We can wait Until IE10 and then have to wait around a year for the service pack to fix the features that were missed trying to get the release window.

  13. HackToHell

    I prefer it if they just kept to sub numbers like 5.1 , 5.2 and big no i.e 6 … for bigger releases 🙂 ..

  14. James M Singleton

    It is no big deal and I don’t think that it will affect my addons. I use addons that have beta versions or are updated just as regularly. I have tried leaving Firefox for Google Chrome but the addons, especially ftp, are terrible or non-existent. Google Chrome has nice innovations and is a browser that will be great in the future. Right now Firefox is still, by far, the best browser in the world IMHO.

  15. Tangmeister

    @Nigel- I respectfully disagree- Firefox is making small changes, it seems, based on what’s happened in FF5.

    I agree that a quicker release cycle is the future of browsers, but Chrome and Firefox handle this quite differently. Chrome makes their updating process nearly invisible, and when new features are added, or changed, the changes don’t hinder extensions/addons functioning, and the user is usually non the wiser. The changes they make do not conflict with the training that developers already have.

  16. Jim Boyd

    All the doom and gloom talk is just wishful thinking on the part of a MS fan. Firefox will continue to be the superior product…

    FF has always released newer versions every 6 weeks or so. Therefore NOTHING has actually changed with FF’s release schedule except the numbering system. They simply eliminated the sub-version numbering mess that confuses the hell out of the average person. So,no more version 5.0.1, 5.0.2 nonsense between major releases.

  17. Tangmeister

    ^^ Except this time, either they’re radically changing the addons platform/api every time, interfering with Developers, or they aren’t modifying the behaviour to allow addons to continue to be used in each “new Firefox”.

  18. Asrartheone

    @Jim Boyd , It ain’t any ‘wishful thinking’ of an MS fan. Its the fact. Wait for two days from today and the beta for Firefox 6 shall be released when people hardly switched over to Firefox 5.
    Firefox isn’t superior anymore. Its recent huge drop in user share explains that. I too used to browse on Firefox 5 till now. But the frequent crashes and the ’embarrasment’ message made me ditch it forever. Sorry Firefox.

  19. Jim Boyd

    Do you really want to compare crash rates between FF5 and ANY version of IE?….Seriously? lol

    Statements like that prove nothing more than your own inexperience with either browser and only serves to prove you should probably not be writing reviews on anything related to computers…just saying.

  20. Jim Boyd

    Just to correct your inaccuracy, FF usage has INCREASED sense the release of IE8 and virtually exploded sense the release of IE9…right along with every other browser.

    You should probably start dealing in fact rather then MS generated hype, padded download reports and all their other BS…

  21. Tangmeister

    @Jim

    I really don’t want to start a Trollmudflingingcontestjelly, but I’ve read lots of articles on sites like Neowin where I’ve seen something else.

    This seems to be a reputable source, right? http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

    I hope we can come to some middle ground without trashing each other.

  22. Galaxy Consulting Services

    For you younger folks, you might not remember a similar situation that happened some years ago. I believe Firefox is attempting the same thing today. One point I did not see brought out is the version number disparity between Firefox and Internet Explorer, its chief competitor. When this rapid version number change started, Firefox was at a 3.x version number, but Internet Explorer was already at version 9, with version 10 on the way (with Windows 8). Unknowing users do associate some degree of “superiority” with higher version numbers. That means that some users have the feeling that Internet Explorer version 9 must be superior to Firefox version 3 or 4. Therefore, if Firefox can jump a few version numbers in a short period of time, they can eliminate that doubt, and even surpass Internet Explorer in version numbers in a short period of time. When that happens, new computer users will presume that Firefox is superior to Internet Explorer.

    If Firefox had different versions for each operating system, they could claim they are simply getting all platforms to the same version level. Of course, if Firefox’s goal is to go from version 4 to version 8, they could simply forego the intermediate version numbers and just add 4 for the next version, but who would ever do such a thing as that?

    If Microsoft is opening champagne over Firefox’s version number change, they should be doing it in shame, because in 1993, that is exactly what Microsoft did when it jumped from version 2 to version 6 for MS Word for Windows. Part of the logic was to get Word for all their platforms to the same number, and since Word for the Mac was already at version 5.1, the Windows platform was justified in jumping 4 versions, … except that wasn’t the only reason. … Probably an even larger reason was that Word Perfect, the top word processing program on the market was at version 5.x, and Microsoft’s research showed that people considered Word Perfect was superior to MS Word for Windows simply because of the larger version number. Microsoft’s big version jump was top news at that time, even considered scandalous, but as you can see, that all blew over eventually. Therefore, it is clear to me that since Firefox does not have various version numbers on different platforms to get in sync, the real goal is to get closer to Internet Explorer’s version numbers, or even top IE. I do believe they will eventually get away with it, just as Microsoft has.

    Regardless of the reason, I think most of us agree. … We don’t like it.

  23. Galaxy Consulting Services

    For you younger folks, you might not remember a similar situation that happened some years ago. I believe Firefox is attempting the same thing today. One point I did not see brought out is the version number disparity between Firefox and Internet Explorer, its chief competitor. When this rapid version number change started, Firefox was at a 3.x version number, but Internet Explorer was already at version 9, with version 10 on the way (with Windows 8). Unknowing users do associate some degree of “superiority” with higher version numbers. That means that some users have the feeling that Internet Explorer version 9 must be superior to Firefox version 3 or 4. Therefore, if Firefox can jump a few version numbers in a short period of time, they can eliminate that doubt, and even surpass Internet Explorer in version numbers in a short period of time. When that happens, new computer users will presume that Firefox is superior to Internet Explorer.

    If Firefox had different versions for each operating system, they could claim they are simply getting all platforms to the same version level. Of course, if Firefox’s goal is to go from version 4 to version 8, they could simply forego the intermediate version numbers and just add 4 for the next version, but who would ever do such a thing as that?

    If Microsoft is opening champagne over Firefox’s version number change, they should be doing it in shame, because in 1993, that is exactly what Microsoft did when it jumped from version 2 to version 6 for MS Word for Windows. Part of the logic was to get Word for all their platforms to the same number, and since Word for the Mac was already at version 5.1, the Windows platform was justified in jumping 4 versions, … except that wasn’t the only reason. … Probably an even larger reason was that Word Perfect, the top word processing program on the market was at version 5.x, and Microsoft’s research showed that people considered Word Perfect was superior to MS Word for Windows simply because of the larger version number. Microsoft’s big version jump was top news at that time, even considered scandalous, but as you can see, that all blew over eventually. Therefore, it is clear to me that since Firefox does not have various version numbers on different platforms to get in sync, the real goal is to get closer to Internet Explorer’s version numbers, or even top IE. I do believe they will eventually get away with it, just as Microsoft has.

    Regardless of the reason, I think most of us agree. … We don’t like it.

  24. Will

    get addon compatability reporter. A lot of addons will work (or mostly work till updated) in another version but you just cant install them.

  25. Alloallo

    @ amon, roflmao :-)))

    Maybe the FF team (after reading IE9 scores 99% on security opposed to their 13%) decided to release a new browser every six weeks, so the hackers can’t keep up with them. 🙂

  26. Adam

    Mozilla is alienating some of Firefox’s core users, probably just a small minority though. As soon as 3.x runs out of support, I’m dropping Firefox permanently unless the newest version by then is very stable, compatible, and not a memory hog. Firefox 4 was garbage, and I quickly switched back to 3.x. I didn’t even try Firefox 5. A new Firefox version used to be real news. Firefox 4 was all over big news sites, but now a new Firefox is barely news.

    Internet Explorer felt very awkward and sluggish to use at some point, which is why I didn’t use it at all for about three years. It looks much better now, though. I was actually surprised after just trying it out, but for some reason it doesn’t play flash video on BBC News (just shows the circling thing in the middle of the video box), and I really don’t need the headache of trying to fix basic features like that that I encounter already on one of the first sites I test it with. I’m probably going with Chrome and Opera in the future, We’ll see.

  27. Asreal

    I agree totally. I work at a school and spent some of the August break finding out how to lock Firefox 5 down so that little hands can’t mess around with proxy settings and such (and deploying this across the school). It is now October, I’ve just tried these lockdowns on Firefox 7 and guess what… they don’t work.

    Looks like we’re going to be sticking with Firefox 5 until the next holiday I can be “bothered” to find out how to do it all again. Thanks morons.

  28. Amarand Agasi

    The cake is a lie!

  29. Amarand Agasi

    One of my concerns is the possible perception of major revision dilution. When I see a major release, I expect major changes – both cosmetic and under the hood. I can’t imagine Firefox has changed that much in the past few months and yet, I come into work today and my browser’s jumped from 8 to 9 with no noticeable difference. I think this is a bad move on Mozilla’s part because I know that when the first major release jumps started to happen with Firefox, it was a novelty to my friends and I (“Oh, cool! Firefox 4 is out!”) and now, just a few short months later, we’re at major release 9 and I’m not really feeling much of a difference. To me, that’s bad marketing. It’s a shame that open source products don’t always have access to the commercial resources that, say, a Microsoft would have: well-funded marketing departments, HCI consultants and focus groups. True, software designed by committee tends to suck mightily, but I still think Mozilla could learn a few things from commercial design houses. I say this as a strong proponent of open-source software and Firefox in general – it’s the only browser I use for general use.

    To sum up: minor releases should be reserved for minor changes – or large subsets of minor changes – and major releases should be both infrequent and encapsulate large changes in design and function. Since Firefox 4 or 5, I simply haven’t seen any justification for the rapid-fire major release jumps, and it really does make it difficult for commercial users to continue to adopt and maintain.

    Having said that, has Mozilla responded to users’ concerns about this? Is this something they’ve addressed somewhere on their blog or in their forums?

  30. Anonymous

    They should try to stabilize the existing versions instead of releasing new instabilies all the time. My copies of Firefox, have all consistently crashed or stopped responding everytime I click on “Bookmarks”, ever since version 2 or 3. Same with the bookmarks save and restore function, which always freezes and/or crashes the browser, unless I leave it alone and sit absolutely still for about half an hour or so. The best thing with Firefox, and which keep me using ut in spite of the incurable instabilities are the add ons, I have grown used to and that are mostly rock stable in contrast to the browser itself. Maybe they should engage some of the add on developers to fix the browser?

  31. ElChO

    You can check that from FF itself u.u

  32. ABCDEF

    Time expired:)

  33. locoma

    well, plain and simple, I remember what version 1, 2 and 3 were like (3 being a major update in the addons’ way of displaying/integrating) and version 4 being a really fast improvement over 3. From that point on, versions stopped mattering. It’s a new version number every three weeks. Before, I knew when my extensions were in risk of being incompatible, nowadays I have no idea when they might stop working.

  34. locoma

    nah, most likely FF always says it’s not compatible because they haven’t “validated” the new version of the plugin/addon as fast as the developer of the addon produces it. So yeah, you have to check in the developer’s site if you need to use the addon at the time of upgrading and not a week after.

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