We all knew that the day would come eventually when Mozilla would pull the plug on Firefox 3.6. According to new information posted on the Firefox Extended Support page, that day will be April 24, 2012. This is directly connected to the announcement that Firefox 10 will be the company's first Extended Support Release (ESR).
Let me put this into perspective. The change to the rapid release process earlier last year made it nearly impossible for companies and organizations to keep up with the testing and deployment of new versions of the browser. With new versions released every six weeks, companies had to use more man-hours to test and deploy new browser versions. Not updating to the latest version of the browser was out of the question, as security and stability updates were only released for the latest version and not previous versions.
Companies until now were able to use Firefox 3.6 which still received support by Mozilla. An idea was proposed to extend support for some versions of the browser on a regular basis to give companies breathing space. It was not clear at the time of writing if Firefox 10, 11 or another version would be the initial ESR version of the browser.
Mozilla at a meeting earlier today made the upcoming Firefox 10 Stable release the first Extended Support Release of the browser.
The ESR will follow the rapid release process, but instead of increasing a major version every six week, a minor version is pushed instead. The Firefox 10 ESR release will be updated to Firefox 10.0.1 when Firefox 11 gets released, and Firefox 10.0.6 with Firefox 16.
ESR releases will be supported for eight release cycles. Firefox 10 ESR support for instance ends in February 2013 while Firefox 17 ESR support will end in December of the same year.
A new ESR is pushed out in the sevenths release cycle giving companies a total of 12 weeks to distribute the update.
ESRs will receive security updates for critical or high severity vulnerabilities. The company notes however that updates may not be provided in some cases if "a backport cannot be applied with reasonable effort". Other updates may be provided as well at Mozilla's discretion. How will companies and organizations react to this? It is to early to tell but the prospect of not receiving security updates make ESRs quite unreliable.
Firefox 3.6 users will receive update notifications in April offered through the browser's internal updating service that will update the version to the latest stable build of the browser.
Some users have deliberately chosen not to upgrade from Firefox 3.6 to a newer version, most to protest against features and design changes that Mozilla made to more recent versions of the browser.
If you are one of them, what will you do when April comes? (Thanks FX for the tip!)
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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.