Six weeks or 42 days, that is exactly the time it takes to release the next version of the Firefox web browser. Mozilla switched to a rapid release cycle back in June of 2011. The main idea of the new development process was to release features faster to the users of the browser.
Many Firefox users on the other hand disliked the new cycle at first, and believed that it was born out of fear of the rising Chrome browser than a necessity.The first releases did not offer much in terms of functionality and new features, which seemed to fuel the criticism. Mozilla has turned this around only recently when the company began to include major improvements into the browser. To name a few: a new plug-in less pdf reader, IonMonkey, add-on memory optmizations. Firefox today is faster and more resource-friendly. While I would not attribute that to the rapid release process but the efforts of Mozilla engineers and contributors, it is likely that features have been integrated more quickly into the browser because of this.
Firefox 18 stable is scheduled to be released on January 1, 2013. Firefox Beta, Aurora and Nightly channels will move up a version at around the same time.
Mozilla today announced that the release cycle will be extended by a week to give engineers time to enjoy Christmas / holiday season and New Year. This does not mean that development is paused in that time, only that Mozilla expects it to slow down like it did last year.
Our developer, QA, and contributor engagement of course also drops significantly. In 2011, there were about 150 bugs landed per week during the holidays as opposed an average of about 350 bugs per week the rest of the year.
What this means is that Firefox 18's release cycle will be 7 weeks instead of 6, and that Firefox 19 Beta and Firefox 20 Aurora will also benefit from the extended period. The release cycle will fall back to six weeks with Firefox 19 stable.
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