We know that Firefox 4 will be released in just a few days time. It looks like the release candidate build will also be the final build of the browse if nothing unforeseen happens during the last days before release.
The long awaited and several times delayed next iteration of the popular web browser marks the beginning of a new development cycle that does away with the concept of major version updates.
The Mozilla team, just like the Chrome development team, will release new versions of the web browser in rapid succession.
So what's exactly happening after the Firefox 4 release on March 22? The devs have plans to ship a security and stability update soon thereafter. Firefox 4.01 will fix some recently discovered bugs that they have decided to ignore for the sake of releasing Firefox 4 to the public. Expect an update shortly after the release of Firefox 4 that will fix those bugs and probably a handful of additional issues that users will report once the browser's distribution starts to pick up pace.
Mozilla's Robert Sayre proposed a new Firefox release cycle that will be at full speed 16 weeks after the release of Firefox 4. From then, it is theoretically possible to publish a new Firefox release every six weeks.
The Firefox release cycle moves through four stages. It all begins on mozilla-central, commonly referred to as nightly, moves over to Firefox experimental releases, then betas and finally the public release.
Mozilla needs the first 15 weeks after Firefox 4 to push releases from Mozilla-Central to the release stage. And while that initial release is pushed through the channels, the nightly builds could very well work on the next iterations of the browser.
Under this system, there is a choice to ship a general Firefox release at week 16 and every six weeks thereafter. That doesn't mean a release will happen every six weeks, but the option will be available.
Mozilla plans to begin work on Firefox 5 shortly after Firefox 4 has been released to the public. The final release is projected to be 12 to 16 weeks after Firefox 4. Please note that the developers could release Firefox 6 six weeks after Firefox 5, but they do not have to. Bugs and blockers can always delay the release of a new browser version.
The developers are still planning to release Firefox 5, Firefox 6 and Firefox 7 this year, and likely at least another four versions in the coming. This would bring Firefox to Firefox 11 at the end of next year.
The development process has been posted as a draft which means that it is still possible that it will be altered. Regardless of that, it is unlikely that Mozilla will go back to the old release cycle, as the accelerated development process seems to be favored by the majority of its developers and decision makers.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.