Mozilla Plans To Hide Firefox Version

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 14, 2011
Updated • Mar 8, 2015

One "by-product" of the rapid release cycle of the Firefox web browser is the version number increase that goes along with every new release of the web browser.

Firefox this year jumped from Firefox 3 all the way to the latest version Firefox 8, and we are not even at the end of the year.

Mozilla interestingly enough plans to hide the version number in the Firefox web browser. Asa Dotzler added an entry to Bugzilla to remove the version of the browser from the about Window dialog in the browser.

Firefox users who currently want to know which version of the browser they are running can click on Firefox > Help > About Firefox to find out.

The original idea by Asa is to remove the version information in the about window and replace it with the more general information that the user is running the latest version of the browser.

When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window should say something like "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release."

Experienced Firefox users, or at least those who know where to look, can still access the version information on the about:support page.

What is Mozilla hoping to achieve with the removal of the version number listed in the about window? No information is posted on Bugzilla, it is however likely that Mozilla wants to reduce the impact a version number change has on the global community, and especially on the update ratio of users.

Removing the version number does not change the fact that Firefox is reaching what is generally perceived as major versions more frequently, and most tech news sites will still use the version number when they write about those changes. The idea is to make versions less important.

Then again, we would not have that discussion if Mozilla had made the decision to use "minor" version increases for the rapid release cycle. Instead of having to deal with Firefox 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, we would have then had to deal with Firefox 4.1, 4.2., 4.3, Firefox 5 and Firefox 5.1.

Mozilla is basically trying to use the argument that opponents of the major version increase had when they were first announced:

The opponents said that versions do not mean anything if the browser does not deliver, and that it does not make sense to increase the browser version if the changes are only minor.

Mozilla now says that versions do not mean anything, and that users simply should not look at them anymore.

Hiding browser versions, and the supposed change is nothing more than that, does not resolve the underlying issue. Especially not so if the update screen still displays the new version the browser will get updated to. (via)

Update: To clarify, Mozilla will only remove the version number from the about Firefox window, not from other locations, like the Troubleshooting Information page.

Update: Mozilla has dropped the plan to remove the version from the About window in the Firefox browser.


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  1. wes said on October 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    seen the shi% thunderbird 16.0.2 is up to:

    Silent, Background Updates
    Thunderbird will now download and apply updates in the background allowing you to start quickly the next time Thunderbird starts up. This eliminates the update progress dialog on all platforms and on Windows, it removes the need for the User Access Control dialog, making updating easier and quicker.

    TB doesn’t want unsigned feedback; doesn’t like all caps=yelling ! yep, you betcha, underlines cuss words ie unacceptable arrogance, security risk, and i don’t accede to any such attempts by them to grab update control
    TRY it, and i’ll dump TB so fast —


  2. Meena Bassem said on August 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Hmm, did you see the new file management in windows 8? many users said it’s like linux, so it looks like Microsoft too , is about to become MR.CopyCat.
    still, most users ( even experts ) are used to finding the version number in any app from help>about
    That’s even the same in windows xp, go to my computer and do these steps and you’ll know the windows version
    quite the same for windows 7, open my computer, press alt ( to show the menu bar ) and do the steps and you get the windows version

    Mozilla used to give innovative ideas and always good improvements,
    Removing the version number is the most stupid thing mozilla will do right after removing the profile manager.
    i don’t know what’s wrong with these people

  3. Jojo said on August 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Hey wouldn’t it be great if Microsoft took the same idea and ran with it?

    NO more Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8. Everyone is on Windows (R). If you want to know what version you are on, then there is a DLL file in the Windows/System folder that will give you that info. Otherwise, you are either at the current version or you are not at the current version. [lol].

  4. Meena Bassem said on August 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    so, even if some users are not interested in knowing the version number, it’s common among almost all applications i use that i know the version number from help>about
    so, why is mozilla trying to hide it? does it bother them?

  5. ecky said on August 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    The idea of hiding the version in Help->About Firefox dialog is (to my understanding) all about the basic user not being interested in version numbering.

    Only techie users want to know or need to know the version number. Basic users only wish to use the newest browser and they probably do not even know what is the newest version.

    For troubleshooting issues, there is about:support page, which gives much more information about system than just the browser version.

    1. Jojo said on August 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      “The idea of hiding the version in Help->About Firefox dialog is (to my understanding) all about the basic user not being interested in version numbering.”

      As has been stated previously in this thread (AND in the Bugzilla and Google Groups related threads), the problem is that users are getting all mixed up with what is the current release/version because of FF’s new ill-advised and stupid rapid release schedule.

      So the solution is (at least according to that stupid ass Asa at Mozilla) remove the version number and just tell the user whether he is at or is not at the current version.

      You should read ALL the posts that came before and try and understand the subject before posting, instead of just weighing in with insufficient knowledge.

  6. adrian said on August 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    mozilla is great, make all this great plugins

  7. little sunshine said on August 19, 2011 at 8:50 am

    For some reason Mozilla is feeling version challenged by Chrome. They should just get over it and work to make FF faster and more stable so that fewer suckers get taken in by Chrome spyware. Version numbers will not gain or lose them market share. Do you have a brother.his name is orca browser?

  8. Ken Saunders said on August 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    The main argument that I’ve read is how this change would affect providing tech support to individuals.
    That’s a ridiculous point. The same info and more is the same amount of mouse clicks, and/or keystrokes away.

    Is there another point that I’m missing?
    Aside from the other prominent complaint that it goes against conventional practices.

    For the record, I’m not an engineer. First and foremost, I’m an end user, an add-on contributor and developer hobbyist, a web developer, I have provided, and do provide tech support online, in person, and over the phone for Firefox and other software.

    You should get to know a person before you shoot personal, and negative insults at them.

    1. Jojo said on August 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

      Did you read my post above at: August 17, 2011 at 9:52 am? Did you not understand what I wrote there?

      So YOU feel that the rationals written by literally HUNDREDS of posters on both the Bugzilla thread and the newsgroup thread are “ridiculous”? Wow! A little arrogant are we? Why don’t you go over there and post your drivel? Go call those people “ridiculous” on their home ground and see how they respond to you.

      Right now, I suspect that you are merely one of Asa’s trolls.

  9. Ken Saunders said on August 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Have I commented here yet? It’s usually the first place that I do.
    I’ve commented in so many other places I’ve lost track.
    This is a dumb issue to get all nuts about.
    I’m just going to do a copy and paste.
    Maybe there is still some sane, rational people out there.

    The version number is still easily accessible.
    This is being blown way out of proportion. Yes, it goes against conventional practices, but so what.
    The version number is still there.
    As I posted in the bug report,

    Alt+ h > a
    Alt+ h > t
    The only difference is that the about dialog window opens and gets focus, and about:support is opened in a tab.
    With the Menu bar showing, it also takes the same amount of mouse clicks.

    There’s just no major difference or big deal in asking a person who needs support help to go to the Help menu and click on About Firefox, or Troubleshooting Information.
    Troubleshooting Information is more appropriate and obvious for support anyway.

    1. Jojo said on August 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      You are obviously reading or intellectually challenged Ken if after reading all the posts in the bug report AND in the Google Group, you don’t see all the potential problems this change would/can cause.

      I suspect you are an engineer. Your lack of understanding is why there are so very few engineer run companies.

  10. anonymous said on August 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    funny decision…just what do they have upon their sleeves anyway??
    what about newbie users??

  11. Go Irish said on August 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Maybe they should have the version done the way Ubuntu does it
    the 1st number being the year released, the 2nd being the month.
    Todays FF would be 11.08 then (2011, August)

  12. Leslie said on August 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Wow removing the version number from the about box, just the kind of top of the shelf change useful request all of us are looking out for. My guess is that this change alone is worthy of leaping from V9 to V10 :-)

    What a joke, in my mind (I am also a developer) their reputation is already on shaky ground with some of the most stupid changes I have seen in recent times.

    If any of the firefox developer dweebs (aka nerds) are reading this, I suggest you are heading in the wrong direction. Since my days as a TRS80 clone developer, versions have always been structured pretty much as Major version.Minor version.Bug Fix – how hard can this be.

    My last word is that if I compare two products and they have similar functionality, is the version really going to tell me anything? Well yes, the LOWER the version number the implication is that more effort has been put in and less buggy versions released to produce that functionality. The Higher the number, you’ve got to wonder about the quality of the content. Many of us avoid x.0 releases because experience shows us they usually have a problem of two. Less important in the internet age but nonetheless we do not forget this sort of thing. Basically, the only thing going for Firefox on this issue is that it is free, otherwise they have serious difficulties in terms of product marketing.

  13. Meena Bassem said on August 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    well, i’ve just realized also that R.Click on firefox.exe >details will tell the product version.
    but if it’s gonna be in Help>troubleshooting Information. that will be easier
    i wonder …… if it’s gonna be still possible to know the version number by a way or another, what is the point in hiding it? btw, i don’t know why,but i still have that feeling that sites like or will tell the version

  14. Isaac Aggrey said on August 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    This is an example of poor reporting.

    Yes, Mozilla has plans in the works to remove version numbers from their consumer audience. However, the version numbers are only being removed from the “About Firefox” dialog. Version number information will now only be found in “Troubleshooting Information”, which is also found in the same Firefox help menu as “About Firefox.”

    1. Jojo said on August 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

      @Issac – I believe you are mistaken.

      Read the 1st post here:

      It clearly states that the intent is to to remove the version info from the de facto standard location in the About menu item and replace it with a short msg stating whether your version is up-to-date or not. If you want the actual version info, you will have to go to About:Support.

      That raving idiot Asa Dotzler has stated that they want to force people to follow their new fast release schedule and they think the best way to do that is to remove version ID info.

      Of course this opens all sorts of cans of worms for tech support and for companies that have to do extensive testing on versions of any program/application before pushing it to or allowing users to upgrade to. But then doofus Asa Dotzler has also been quoted saying that he doesn’t give a crap about enterprise users.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      Was not that what I said?

      1. Isaac Aggrey said on August 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm

        My apologies.

        In hindsight, I would remove the “poor reporting” line (editing comments would be nice!*) as it comes off harshly, but there is a clear misunderstanding about this minor change from Mozilla that is clearly not getting across to readers since most seem to think that they will never be able to find out their version number easily or in a similar manner. Lines like “Removing the version number…” and “Experienced Firefox Users…” in your article are not very constructive. It would have been more helpful to immediately follow those lines with the fact that version numbers can still be found in the exact same menu in “About Firefox” with the same number of clicks.

        *If possible, I give you permission to edit that line out.

      2. Isaac Aggrey said on August 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

        The intent of the article implies that “normal” users will no longer be able to retrieve their version number easily when it is found in the same help menu under “Troubleshooting Information” in the same number of clicks.

        Yes, this is undoubtedly a cognitive change that many users will likely find annoying, but Dotzler and company contend that users only want to know version information when they are troubleshooting. I do not necessarily agree or disagree with their stance, but when I can still find the version information in relatively the same location, the change is moot in my view.

        For what it’s worth, Dotzler did not suggest the removal (though he agreed), but Alexandar Limi did (the Firefox UX lead). Source:

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on August 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm

        I clearly state that it will be removed from the about window, and that’s where the majority of Firefox users are looking, I assume. I added a clarification nevertheless.

  15. Jim said on August 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    This sort of self-destructive behavior is why I have moved away from FF and have started using Chromium and Comodo’s Dragon as my primary browsers. It took some serious soul searching because I had been using Mozilla since v0.9. Not sure what has happened to Mozilla but they have jumped the tracks in a big way. Sad.

  16. Sourav Chakraborty said on August 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Is Mozilla going to follow Apple (Hiding everything from users)?

    Oh- even Apple does not hide version numbers!

  17. Meena Bassem said on August 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    i don’t get it, why does mozilla keep planning to remove good things , or at least things that do no harm
    first, the plan to remove the profile manager. and now i’ll have to use software that has almost the same size of firefox to manage profiles. what was wrong with the built in one?

    and now remove the version number….. now why on earth will they do it

    btw, i’ve checked it in filehippo,
    chrome v2 beta was released about 3 years ago
    so, what’s the wrong with reaching from v2 to v 15 in 3 years?

    nothing.. why does mozilla have a problem with that?

  18. AC said on August 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I think they should just leave things as they are. Who cares if we’re on Firefox 16 by the end of 2012? As long as the browser itself keeps getting better and better, that’s all that matters. But then again if they so remove the numbering, the about:support page, as suggested in the article, has all you need to know. Ultimately, browser performance is all I care about.

  19. Willy said on August 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Constant improvements are fine but they aren’t all major changes and shouldn’t be assigned a new number, the old way of e.g. was fine for minor changes.

    Removing the version number altogether, that sucks.

  20. Meena Bassem said on August 15, 2011 at 4:28 am

    well, and how long did chrome take to reach v 15 ? and what’s the problem with that?

  21. Zachariah Callaway said on August 15, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Actually I like it when the version number is right next to the title. This way, when you go to the forums to ask for help you can easily find what version it is you are having trouble with.

    1. BobbyPhoenix said on August 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm


  22. Gary M. Mugford said on August 15, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Robert Palmer points out the lack of updating can be traced, in part, to “extension issues.” And those ‘issues’ largely are the result of the reliance on version numbers saying an extension won’t work, even though it probably will, since the underlying architecture for that specific extension might NOT have changed version to version (forget whether it’s minor or major, Mozilla seems intent on eliminating the difference).

    This is the reason I have been monitoring Chrome closely to see if I can move over to it in confidence. Mozilla is making a determined effort to make Firefox a clone of that browser and who am I to argue with their intent? Having customized Firefox into the browser *I* want, it’s disheartening to witness all these … efforts (and what an effort not to use an epithet!), to infantalize the user and enforce them into a design and use structure that obviates the very reason Firefox emerged as the best browser in the biz.


  23. Google hacks said on August 15, 2011 at 2:10 am

    First of all I would like to congratulate Martin for his hard work. I have been following you since….. But what you’re lately doing is just plain copy of Betanews or so. Where is the real stuff about search engines workarounds and tricks to get what you watnt? Where has that spirit gone?
    Why not help users at the times when google is becoming a peace of crap?

    “Fravia”, this is all I have to tell you, god bless his soul.

    I guess you know what I’m talking about. And yes you do not have to publish this comment cause is kinda private.

    All the best!

    1. Robert Palmar said on August 15, 2011 at 6:19 am

      Don’t expect anyone to know what you are talking about
      because in point of fact you don’t know what you are talking about.

  24. gpuser said on August 15, 2011 at 1:40 am

    as you stated, minor version would be better which would result in 1 major version per year.

    damn i guess im going to BE FORCED to install one more addon to show me the version quickly lol :P
    status bar addon, now this.. its annoying at least!

    1. Me said on August 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

      There already is an add-on which displays the version in the status bar:

  25. Dan said on August 15, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Ditch the version numbers and just use build numbers like in Chromium for Windows. :)

  26. Robert Palmar said on August 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

    My guess this is aimed at users who do not automatically upgrade to the next version.
    I suspect that anyone with automatic updates turned off will see a warning
    on the order may not be running the most secure version
    of Firefox…please click here..yada yada or some such
    to try an induce an upgrade from the warning.

    Firefox has a fair number of people who do not upgrade
    for a variety of reasons, usually extension issues,
    and Mozilla would like to reduce the number.

    1. Robert Palmar said on August 15, 2011 at 12:50 am

      I should have added it I think the decision is wrong-headed even
      if that was their intention and less transparency is never good.

  27. Visitor said on August 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Look, when PC was yong in early 1980s it was used by IT-professionals. Nowadays PC is like a refrigirator, so what is the meaning of versioning? I’m sure that any industry can grow only with professional innovations. So marketing has to go aside and return software development to IT-professionals. We must stop their stupid movements with version numbering!

  28. Jojo said on August 14, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Whew! Did they have a discount on “stupid” at the supermarket and FF developers loaded up on the sale? This is just another in a long line of dumb decisions in FF.

    Are they trying to kill Mozilla/FF and drive everyone to a different browser?

    Please, put the adults back in charge!

  29. Nebulus said on August 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I really don’t understand what are they trying to accomplish. It seems like they somehow want to hide the fact that the version changes each 5 minutes, which suggest that they are aware it’s not exactly the best idea :) So basically, we have a bad idea, we implement it and then hide it from the user. Great plan, shows a responsible attitude !

  30. Yoav said on August 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Seems to me like an unnecessary nuisance for the consumer. Version numbers are very important because not all addons are compatible with the recent versions. How will users know when to upgrade if the version number is hidden?

    1. dw4rf_t0ssr said on August 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      Because it tells you, silly. Didn’t you read the article?

      The only practical reason I can see for this is to deflect some heat gotten for their nutty version numbering plans. Not having a version number and instead some molly-coddle “you’re up to date” message is just asinine.

      Make it tiny numbers in the corner, something. Mozilla is just dropping one bomb after another with these FF changes. Also, they need USER FRIENDLY ways of opting-out of new “features”.

  31. KoalaBear said on August 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Very strange decision.. I dont mind the quick version numbering like Chrome. But hiding it altogether is strange and unhandy.

  32. Chris said on August 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    “Mozilla now says that versions do not mean anything, and that users simply should not look at them anymore.”

    I guess when you come out with a new version every three hours that statement has some merit.

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