Mozilla as you may know switched to a rapid release process this year which basically had the consequence that new Firefox versions get released more frequently.
Not every user, and especially not organizations and businesses, have welcome this new process. One of the concerns that users had was that there was not enough time to certify new releases.
With new releases coming out every six weeks, it meant that companies would have to assign more man hours to the certification process, which many could not or would not want to do because of budget constraints.
Mozilla identified another issue as a consequence of this. Companies, organizations and individual users blocked the browser from updating to the most recent version because of that certification process.
- The release schedule doesn't allow sufficient time for the organizations and their vendors to certify new releases of the products
- The associated end-of-life policy exposes them to considerable security risk if they remain on a non-current version past Firefox 3.6.
A proposal has been added to Mozilla wiki that suggest Extended Support Releases (ESR) to meet those needs. The basic idea is to offer extended support for certain releases. In the most recent proposal an Extended Support Release would be maintained for seven release cycles which would equal 42 weeks instead of the usual six weeks. The ESR releases will overlap two cycles to "allow organizations to qualify and test against Aurora and Beta builds for twelve weeks leading up to the ESR, and an additional 12 weeks to certify and transition to a new ESR".
Mozilla proposed now that Firefox 8 or Firefox 9 would be made the initial ESR. Mozilla will support all ESRs with critical and high security bug fixes throughout their support cycle, and optionally with additional stability and security updates.
Extended Support Releases will have their own update channel so that automatic updates are available. Unlike other channels, the ESR will only be marketed through the Enterprise Wiki page and not on other Mozilla properties.
Firefox 3.6 users should note that the initial ESR release marks the beginning of the 12 week end of life cycle for the browser.
You can read up on the extended support proposal for Firefox here. I personally think that this is a step in the right direction, especially since relations between enterprise users and Mozilla have been tense since the beginning of the rapid release cycle. (thanks Ken for pinging me on Facebook)
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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.