A New Firefox Version Every Six Weeks - gHacks Tech News

A New Firefox Version Every Six Weeks

The new Firefox rapid release cycle is in full swing by now which means that new versions of the browser get released every six weeks.

The new release cycle has been a controversial topic ever since it was introduced.

The release cycle has raised new issues, like add-on compatibility issues or problematic enterprise support, or the fact that the two most recent stable releases Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 have not really added new features to the browser that would justify a version bump.

The core reason for changing to a faster release cycle is the ability to implement and release new capabilities faster to give web developers the chance to use those technologies in their web applications.

A browser is the delivery vehicle for the Internet. And the Internet moves very, very quickly. Philosophically, I do not believe a product that moves at the speed of traditional desktop software can be effective at enabling an Internet where things happen in real time. If we want the browser to be the interface for the Internet, we need to make it more like the Internet. That means delivering capabilities when they are ready. That means a rapid release process. If we don’t do something like this the browser becomes a limiting factor in what the Internet can do.

Note that Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, is addressing web developers exclusively and not end users in this justification. And that's probably one of the issues that end users have with the change in development pace. That, and the fact that new web technologies do not appear out of nowhere from one second to the next. Establishing new technologies takes a long time, sometimes years.

Asa Dotzler recently posted the timeline for the next seven versions of Firefox on his blog.

According to his posting, we will see a new stable version of the browser every six weeks from August 16, the day of the latest stable release of Firefox on.

Firefox 9 Stable will be released on December 20, Firefox 13 on June 5, 2012. All Beta, Aurora and Nightly releases will also increase in version on those days, which means that we will see Firefox 14 Beta, Firefox 15 Aurora and Firefox 16 Nightly on June 5, 2012 as well.

There is some good news at least about add-on compatibility issues. The developers have announced plans to default add-ons to compatible from Firefox 9 on which means that users will face less issues with add-ons becoming incompatible because of version changes.

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Comments

  1. Vic said on August 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm
    Reply

    This is ridiculously, version 16 by June 2012? Version 400 by June 2014?

    1. Jojo said on August 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm
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      Nah. I wager they run out of new things to implement in another few rapid releases. Then they will will really be scraping the bottom of the barrel until something like release 12 [drum roll] will incorporate A NEW FONT FACE!

      Since FF is an open source project, someone should just fork the development off at release 3.6, give it a new name and start a new project from there. I bet this would make many people happy.

  2. Jack said on August 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm
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    Although use of Firefox is growing, the core user base is people who prefer it for a very specific range of reasons – long-term stability, especially with add-ons, being among them. At this rate Mozilla are going to kill the proverbial golden goose in a rush for a mass market share.

  3. udisha chaudhary said on August 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm
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    i want to install it can anyone plese help me

  4. Robert Palmar said on August 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm
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    The internet is not moving any faster than it was
    was Firefox was releasing far less frequently.

    This is all about version number envy with
    Firefox thinking Chrome’s faster releases
    and higher version numbers are driving
    the growth of Chrome versus Firefox.

  5. AC said on August 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm
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    I read somewhere that the add-on compatibility changes that are going to come with the release of version 9 are only going affect add-ons that were release or upgraded at the time version 4 was release or since then. So if there are any add-ons that were only compatible up to version 3.6.X then they still won’t work.

    I don’t know if it’s true but from the sounds of things, if Mozilla could all (most of) the add-on developers to sort things out once version 9 has been release then they won’t need to worry about those particular add-ons again.

    Apart from the add-on compatibility problem, I don’t have a problem with the version number going up because it’s just a number. Yeah a series of minor changes may not warrant a major version number jump but for home users, does it matter if your running version Firefox 32 instead of Firefox 6.5.2 ???

    As long as the damn thing works and has all the latest features etc then it doesn’t matter.

    I mean what next? People not using the browser because they don’t like the name Firefox?

  6. FX7 said on August 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm
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  7. bastik said on August 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm
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    I like the fast release cycle from the point of view as a end-user. Most addon developers have picked up the pace and release compatible versions before a new version is out. I like that new things get implemented, which should not be added in a subversion. Currently I’m only concerned that the changes are to minor and that you need to switch to the next release to be protected, since the old versions are not getting updated anymore.

    I miss E10 and security features. I hope FF will be more stable (works for me) and faster (there’s still room for improvements). Then nobody should care about the version number.

    For developers it’s joy and pain. They can use new things, but have to make sure users that have not updated don’t see broken pages. Web-app-developers have to make sure it works in all browsers, which takes more time to test.

    For companies it’s not possible to update. While there could be systems to apply updates in the background it appears harder to install a new version almost every month. But they would have to since security holes are not closed.

    FF6 will expire. Don’t know how the repo’s pick up the fast releases, but for Windows users it might be stressful to keep up to date. BTW: I don’t support the Chrome way, a repo would be nicer.

  8. Bill said on August 27, 2011 at 3:36 am
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    I think that the rapid release cycle is a big step forward and a vey positive thing for Firefox. This kind of incremental development and release has been the norm in software development circle for years — it means that new features are released as soon as they are ready and are not delayed for months (or years) waiting for the next major release date.

    Many many add-ons remain compatible from one release to the next. Because there have been no overhauls to the add-on architecture, it is impossible for the fx developers to predict which add-ons will be broken by the introduction of new features within a particular release; part of the reasoning behind the recent discussion to get rid of (externally visible) release numbers and add-on compatibility checking.

    So, the only way to determine if an add-on is broken is to try it. Which is why fx has multiple release cycles in parallel (nightly, aurora, beta, final) — to give add-on developers (amongst others) time to identify and, hopefully, fix incompatibilities.

    From my perspective, it’s working well. I don’t miss the old process of one or two releases a year.

  9. Anon said on August 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm
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    When I first moved to FF it was at v1.5, when it went to v2 I had a number of extensions that showed up as incompatible but Nightly Tester Tools sorted all of them out.
    When it went to v3 I had the same problem and lost a couple, when it went to v3.5 I initially had 25 extensions show up as incompatible and when, after quite a while, I eventually updated I lost another 6.
    v3.5 to v3.6 wasn’t so much of a problem and I am now at v3.6.20 and have no intention of going further.
    I mainly use FF now for the same reason I started using it, the wide range of extensions, I estimate that I use over half of those I have installed on a daily basis, the others not so often.
    I have no intention of constantly trying to keep up with the new versions any more, I am happy with what I have.
    If the day comes when 3.6 is no longer usable for whatever reason I will simply change browser, possibly to Opera, possibly to a less used type.

    I know that many people will disagree with this but I also know that there are a lot of people who will agree.

    The majority of computer users I know personally do not want to spend their time constantly updating software which is why, like me, most of them are still using XP and have no wish to change even though I know that some of them have other computers in their home/office with Vista or 7 installed.
    Hell, I know people who are still using Windows98.

    I am not against new technology I just lost the inclination to try and keep up with it when in practical terms I am not getting any added benefit.

    1. Jojo said on August 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm
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      Exactly!

      As I’ve said before, the browser is nothing more than a gateway to the web. Mozilla seems to have lost sight of this fundamental truth as they focus on their penis envy against Chrome & IE.

      Hopefully, Mozilla will acknowledge the error of their ways and return to sanity before they destroy the good will they have built up over the years.

  10. Mike J said on August 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm
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    I think they keep releasing versions for PR purposes.I didn’t bother with 6.

    BTW–I use Iron, which is an older Chrome, and it is still faster–snappier–than Ff v5.0,even though I have optimized the latter in about:config.I would use Iron all the time if its AdBlock worked better, and if it had a DownloadHelper-type extension.(Chrome does; Iron does not, AFAIK.)

  11. AC said on August 28, 2011 at 12:23 am
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    I agree with what Bill said. Regardless if what people don’t like about the rapid release cycle, the best thing is that new features are getting to the browser as soon as possible rather than being delayed for no reason other than “it’s not time to release a new version yet………..because………..just because.”

    As an end user I want to benefit from all the improvements that I possibly can as quick as I can rather than being made to wait.

    If Firefox was to return to the old release cycle they would lose out to Chrome in a bad way. Yes they may be copying them but they have to otherwise they’ll become the next Opera.

    1. Jojo said on August 28, 2011 at 2:49 am
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      @AC – Methinks you are projecting your desires and perspective on the FF universe as a whole and that is a mistake.

      Most FF users do not want to be on the bleeding edge. Unlike the stereotypical smart phone user, average users don’t have a lot of interest (or even need) in having the latest bell & whistles. I seriously doubt that average users would switch to Chrome if FF returned to a sane release schedule.

      Also, don’t forget that Chrome has had and continues to have privacy issues. For instance, see:

      Privacy: How To Lock Down Google’s Chrome Browser
      http://blog.techprognosis.com/2011/07/08/privacy-how-to-lock-down-googles-chrome-browser.html

  12. Jim Fell said on August 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm
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    I can’t wait for Firefox 12 to be released!

  13. hal9000 said on August 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm
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    Frankly, anyone who think this is a good idea needs to get their head seen too.
    As an insider in the web development and design industry this stupid rapid release cycle plays havoc with functional and design specifications and the support and testing that is required from this.
    Six months ago we would test on Firefox 3.6X as the core browsers now the same process needs to be tested to some degree on 3.6x 4, 5 &6 to ensure that there aren’t any really freaky unique issues relating to that weeks pointless major number update.
    This chrome and Firefox numbers race is quite franky stupid and destructive to the entire web development and web use in general.

  14. Norman said on September 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm
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    I really do know that many like the new Tab bar.
    For me as well as others, it is yet another lump of clutter and I really look forward to the time when I can get rid of it.
    These ‘designers’ should get it into their heads once-and-for-all that taking choice out of end users hands is a good way of causing annoyance. I would like the choice of whether to use, or keep the tab bar, I don’t want some techie forcing it on me – after all, you give me this choice with other toolbars – so why not this one?
    I really don’t want your choice of what I HAVE TO HAVE, I want my choice and choice for the end user is good marketing because it covers all variations.
    By the way. I’ve read all the stuff on how marvellous it is, so don’t give me any more please, just give me the chance to remove what irritates.

  15. Nicole said on February 27, 2012 at 9:30 am
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    This article is a little old but I feel I need to say my piece. This rapid release kick that Firefox is on is but a farce. I’ve been using Firefox 3.6 for quite some time now and have no intention of changing or upgrading anytime soon. Hell, I don’t even keep up with the latest releases anymore. I do minor technical support for cash here and there and had to reinstall a friend’s hard drive. When I went to install Firefox again I was surprised (if not a little dejected) to see Firefox 10 was already out. Bleh.

    It’s pointless to have new versions coming ot practically within mere weeks of each other. Each time it seems you get less bang for your proverbail buck. It’s as pointless as those ridiculous reality shows that come on 8132740 times a year. They’ve only been on 3 years and are already on season 20? Gtfo. Firefox wants the so-called prestige of higher version numbers without the proper amount of time.

    I remember a time when new version numbers meant big BIG changes, mostly for the good. Now…not so much. I gave Firefox 4 a try when it first came out and did not like what I saw. A slower browser with more needless bells and whistles and too many incompatible add-ons to count, rendering my browser virtually useless. No thank you. I downgraded to 3.6 and haven’t looked back since.

    I like to customize and as of right now I feel as though I have come up with the right formula (a good mix of addons, scripts and tweaks) to make my browsing a pleasant experience. I’m not in a hurry to give all that up for the sake of keeping up with this pathetic excuse for a release schedule.

  16. James said on May 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm
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    I got so sick of the constant updates nagging me to restart firefox and the inevitable broken extensions that I disabled updates entirely. I’m running version 10 at the moment but I may roll back to 3.6 like I’ve got on my old laptop because frankly it seems to work every bit as well and takes up less memory.

  17. bawldiggle said on July 27, 2015 at 2:18 am
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    Pale Moon keeps me warm at night!

    Recently I installed Linux Mint MATE on an old Acer laptop.
    – Firefox is the supplied browser.

    One again I am glad I gave FF the flick for “Pale Moon”
    – Pale moon if you were a woman I would marry you !

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