Mozilla Drops Plan To Remove Firefox About Page Version

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 25, 2011
Updated • Mar 8, 2015

Firefox users are a dedicated bunch. They love their browser and most prefer it to stay the way it is, with the exception of improved performances, web standards support and security updates. I know several Firefox 3.6.x users who stay with that browser version exactly for that reason.

Mozilla announced plans recently to remove the version information from the About Firefox page.

Many interpreted this as a way to make Firefox users less aware of the rapid release cycle that speeds up time between new major versions of the browser significantly. The browser this year alone made it all the way from Firefox 3 to Firefox 6 Stable with the likelihood that Firefox 8 Stable will be released by year's end.

The basic idea here was to remove the version information from the About Firefox page and replace it with information about the update status of the browser (is up to date, is not up to date) and the last time updates were checked.

The version of the browser would still be displayed under Help > Troubleshooting information. The reason for this move was to "avoid confusion and make sure users always have the most current version of Firefox". The question here is why Mozilla did not add those information to the About page without removing the version information.

A post on Tuesday by Alex Faaborg on the Mozilla.Dev.Usabilioty newsgroup revealed that Mozilla dropped the plan to remove the version number from the about window.

Just in case this got lost amongst the many threads in progress: there are no plans to adjust the version number. It will remain in its current place in the about window, and we are going to continue with the current numbering scheme.

An attribute of working entirely in the open is that we sometimes create significant confusion as we discuss design work that is in progress. However the bright side is that there is never a shortage of feedback :)

There you have it. The version stays where it is already displayed, at least for now.


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  1. WRS said on August 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

    It looks like the real reason for the rapid releasing of Chrome and Firefox is that they are keeping up with the recommendations of HTML5. For Firefox up to 3.6, they were concerned with getting CSS3 up to speed. Now they moved on to HTML5. Check out and see how they are progressing with each version. I bet once they start closing out what each lacks in HTML5 they will go back to their yearly or semi-yearly updates again which maybe a year or two from now. Then they will start this again with CSS4 and HTML6 a decade from now. Microsoft will have much of this in IE10 or IE11.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 28, 2011 at 9:47 am


      the thing that I do not understand here is the following: Why have not they made the decision to include minor versions instead of releasing a “major” version ever six weeks. This would have saved them the add-on compatibility issue troubles and most of the criticism.

      Instead of releasing Firefox 4,5,6 they would have released Firefox 4, 4.1, 4.2. A major version would then be released all six months or so or when a major change is introduced in the browser.

      1. WRS said on August 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        I agree with you. It would seem that since HTML5 is backward compatible with both XHTML and HTML of at least the resent past versions, in itself should not break browser compatibility for add-ons. Of course an add-on that relied on behavior of a new HTML5 function would not be compatible for an older version browser, but that would never be a problem. If it is a security fix or just a few HTML5/CSS3 upgrades, an increment to the third number should be enough. If a service pack of fixes are required (to borrow from Microsoft), the second number should suffice. If something had to really break compatibility then up the major number.

        With this major number upgrade business, we will probably look at FF 16 and Chrome/Chromium 25 before things slow down. (Don’t hold me to it. LOL.)

        However Microsoft updating versions around each OS is a little too slow, but they are mired by browser support for activex applications, but they are now on the move again.

  2. Leslie said on August 27, 2011 at 4:47 am


    I guess your comment is in response to mine. Well read the comment again. I am on *** DIAL-UP *** therefore efficiency is essential. FF3 is just slightly faster than FF4/5 when visiting a page for the first time only. FF4/5 is a lot faster when revisiting a page again.

    It is that simple. Perhaps you are on broadband and hence a micro second would not be that noticeable for you.

    1. Jojo said on August 27, 2011 at 5:23 am

      @Leslie – According to this FCC document ( ) as of 11/2009, the number of dial-up users in the USA was a miniscule 6% of internet users (and it has probably shrunk further in the two years since that survey was conducted). While “I feel your pain” (Bill Clinton), I seriously doubt that Mozilla takes dial-up users into consideration when they are developing browser releases.

      As to speed in revisiting a past page, that is a function of your browser cache. You may want to try increasing the size of that cache.

      1. Leslie said on August 27, 2011 at 5:48 am

        Jojo, yet again you jump to a conclusion.

        Who said I was in the USA ? In fact, I am not, I am in Australia where our story is different but hopefully over the next few years time we will all have a 100mb/s connection if things go to plan.

        In the meantime, as I live in the in the semi-countryside I have to live with what I have and that is dial-up. As a developer myself I expect efficient programming which in turn will bring other benefits and in the case of FF4.5 the experience of using it shows that overall it **is** faster than FF3.

        In terms of cache, I do not believe in having to tweak this stuff. I want it to work out of the box and cannot be bothered having to mess around. Given that I have always left FF at its default settings, I will concede that the FF4/5 default settings might be better than FF3 and that is why there is a speed improvement. Well so be it.

        Like I said previously, I did not like FF4 and was tempted to go back to FF3, but that says it all – I would be going backwards and I would prefer to stay current especially as it is free, so price is a non-issue.

        I see this has drifted way off topic for this article, so I will leave it there.

  3. Leslie said on August 27, 2011 at 3:57 am

    @Firefox 3.6 users

    It took me a while to get used to Firefox 4 (and then 5 due to the version increase probably for a fullstop added in a string somewhere).

    In fact initially I hardly saw the promised speed improvement at all and then after about 2 weeks I realised that revisiting sites was extremely fast – and I am forced to use a dialup connection, so you notice these things.

    So, although I disagree with many changes (not improvements IMO) that have occurred since FF3, I have been able to re-add most of the functionality I need via add-ons, its just a shame that I have to go down that path.

    1. Jojo said on August 27, 2011 at 4:41 am

      I don’t understand what so many are hollering about concerning FF speed. I am on FF 3.6.20 and I don’t notice any speed issues at all (memory issues yes, but not speed issues). This page opened for me in 1.167 seconds after I clicked on the link in the email. That seems plenty darn fast to me.

      Google want to brand Chrome as an OS (which it isn’t even close to!). Chrome is young browser, so it is of course, logical that Chrome version numbers would advance quickly as Google works to catch up with the functionality that the other, older browsers already have.

      OTOH, Mozilla developers are poor marketeers compared to Google and they seem to be worried that Google Chrome is eating their lunch. They seem to have felt like they were being viewed as stoic and slow in adding new features. So they thrashed around trying to figure out what to do to counter Chrome and decided to copy Chrome’s rapid release schedule, in the hope that a constant stream of new bells & whistles would keep users with FF instead of Chrome.

      Unfortunately, Mozilla is thinking that a browser is similar to a smartphone, where users get all excited about new features and are willing to get rid of a perfectly good phone to purchase the latest new phone.

      But the browser user is a different animal. The majority aren’t looking for new features. We are looking for stability so we can use our browser choice for the task it was created for – to interact with the web so that we can access the content we are interested in efficiently and w/o the drama of dealing with constant minor upgrades and whimsical reconfiguration of the UI.

      After having thrown sink into FF (and likely turning it into a bloated mess like many AV and firewall suites), Mozilla is going to find themselves scratching their head wondering what to do now that they have run out of new functionality to add.

  4. kalmly said on August 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve kept version 3.6 but switched my default browser to Opera. FF is welcome to fast-track along without me. When it stops supporting 3.6, I will uninstall it.

  5. Ken Saunders said on August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Well, it obviously isn’t happening here, or just yet, but lets hope that people see that Mozilla can be, and is reasonable and flexible.

    I say thumbs up to Mozilla.
    Would MS or Google ever change something that they planned on implementing into their browsers because there was an outcry to do so?

    Not likely.

    1. Jojo said on August 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      But would Microsoft or Google ever make as poor decisions as Mozilla/FF team has in the last 9 months, requiring them to consider changing? I think not.

      The current FF paid development team and management needs to be let go.

  6. Will said on August 26, 2011 at 12:55 am

    That’s just it.. Firefox 3 is broken!

    Firefox 3 has terrible performance in many areas, lacks many web standards support, and suffers from many undisclosed security vulnerabilities.

    Not that Firefox 6 does NOT but Firefox 6 most certainly is a better product.

    So personally I think they are heading in the right direction.

  7. sawbuster said on August 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I am staying with FF 3.6.xx for as long as I can possibly can.
    I’m very disappointed with all these rapid releases.
    I agree with a previous post “if it ain’t broke…..

    1. Martin said on August 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      You are not alone. I have previewed 4.0 for about two months ago, but wasn’t ready too say goodbye too my good old and perfectly working Firefox 3.6x installation. I’ll stay on 3.6x as long as it’s supported by Mozilla. The new Firefox looks way too much like google chrome. When I want too use chrome for some high tec. HTML5 sites it a fine alternative, but for 95 % of web-sites Firefox 3.6 still does the job very good.

    2. sunnytimes said on August 26, 2011 at 1:41 am

      im curious as to what you think is broken in 6? .. runs awesome on my computer , fast to start , snappy tabs and decent very much improved memory usage .. you haven’t even tried 6 have you?

  8. tinwheeler said on August 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Dear Firefox, you can go ahead and drop the version numbers now. I’m using FF 3.6 and I DON”T PLAN ON CHANGING VERSIONS EVER. thank you. Fill in your name here!

    1. steve.marks59 said on November 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

      I use FF 3.6 most of the time because FF 7 still ends up using 100% CPU and most of my RAM (i only have 512MB) when I browse image intense sites such as flickr. If I had a dual or quad core machine with 4GB or more of RAM then I would be using my FF 7 installation. But since I don’t and until I can upgrade my hardware I am sticking with my FF 3.6. Unless of course a Firefox version comes out which doesn’t quickly overload my computer’s meager resources

    2. sunnyt said on August 26, 2011 at 5:30 am

      wow, your cool .. enjoy your slow outdated insecure browser ..

      1. Jojo said on August 26, 2011 at 8:16 am

        I’m also running FF 3.6.20 with about 60 add-on’s and I am perfectly happy with it. It’s not slow and au contraire smartarse, it is not “insecure” since FF is keeping this branch up to date with security fixes. You should learn something about the subject before posting snarky comments.

  9. Jack said on August 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I’m a long-time Firefox user, but sometimes I think the coders live in some sort of ivory tower.

    How about this for a real-life long-proven development strategy? If it ain’t broke, don’t bloody-well fix it !!!!!

  10. Sid said on August 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Since I am a dedicated user of Firefox, thanks for the praise!
    Regarding this new development, all I can say is, finally, the community succeded in forcing them to drop this.

  11. Jojo said on August 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Well one battle won which I am convinced you help win by helping publicizing and spread the original info. Now if they would just fire that idiot Asa Dotzler!

    Mozilla needs to get off this rapid release kick. Stop trying to copy Chrome. They can’t keep finding new features and functionality to incorporate forever, so they are going to have to get rid of rapid release anyway in the not distant future.

    A browser is a tool for viewing and interacting with web pages. That is its primary reason for existence. For such a tool, we don’t need constant updates and hassles with upgrades to new version numbers.

    1. ilev said on August 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm

      Yes we do need version numbers with every update as long as Mozilla keep the stupid version number embedded inside .xpi ad-on files.

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