Firefox gets a variable release schedule

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 5, 2016

Mozilla announced a change to the release schedule of the Firefox web browser that moves it from a six-week interval to a variable interval.

When Mozilla announced the rapid release cycle for Firefox, it did so to get features and updates to users faster and to stay competitive.

The move was not liked by all users of the browser. Critics accused Mozilla of following into Google's footsteps with the change, and that it did not make sense to release near feature-less updates for the web browser.

Firefox has seen a new release every six weeks ever since Mozilla switched to the faster release cycle with a few notable exceptions where new versions, such as Firefox 18, were delayed before they were released.

Mozilla considered switching to a nine-week release cycle back in 2013, but that did not happen.

Today's announcement makes the Firefox release cycle variable in time. The main reason for the move is to give Mozilla flexibility when it comes to releasing new versions of the browser.

We are moving to a variably scheduled six-to-eight week release cycle for Firefox. With this new release cycle, we will deliver the same number of releases per year but gain a few significant benefits over the previous six week fixed model.

For example, we will now be able to adjust release dates to respond to emerging user and market needs and provide at least six working weeks for every release.

The new schedule shows a variable release cycle between five to eight weeks for new releases. It is likely that the schedule will be adjusted based no future events that Mozilla cannot foresee right now, considering that the organization's reasoning for making the schedule variable is better response options to "emerging user and market needs".

We have updated the Firefox release schedule listing that we maintain here on Ghacks Technology News to reflect the change.

Closing Words

The change should give Mozilla more control when it comes to releasing Firefox updates, considering that it can add a week or two of development to deliver important feature updates to the Firefox community.

The impact of the change should be minimal for users of the browser. Organizations in which Firefox is deployed may need to adjust their testing and deployment schedule though to take the changes into account.

Now You: What's your take on the rapid release cycle, and the announced changes?

Firefox gets a variable release schedule
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Firefox gets a variable release schedule
Mozilla announced today that it plans to change from a fixed Firefox release schedule to a variable release schedule instead.
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  1. D. said on February 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    I agree with Nebulus that it does give them more flexibility. Lets see how they use it.

  2. S2015 said on February 5, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    pros: strong enough to protect oneself from web threats – security always comes first.
    cons: more haste, less speed, or the version of a product does not mean everything, as some could even include bug!

  3. Eugene said on February 5, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Hmmm … there’s 11 weeks between FF 50 and FF 51. Their numbers are pretty fudgy here….

    1. jo said on February 5, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      maybe it’s a Gaian leap year?

  4. pd said on February 5, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Finally a little sanity prevails!

    Maybe now we’ll start to see a few more releases with something worth noting.

    Release as often as you frigging want to … rapid/slow … that was never the issue. Just release when there’s something worth releasing!

    Such as?


    FFS commit all engineering resources to finally getting that finished.

    If it doesn’t get released soon, I’ve a feeling it either never will be, or we’ll all be turning in our graves when it does see a release. Sure is maybe the most fundamental architectural rewrite Firefox has ever seen but when management right royally screwed up by … ahem … being hyper late trying to expand a market with a duopoly already entrenched … they should have flipped that Firefox OS guillotine much sooner. Instead they get again blabbed some marketing shite about “best or dead”. Sounds dramatic and all but too vague. It should have been “e10s or dead”.

  5. Yves said on February 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I’m very interested to see how a 6 week cycle and a “6 to 8 week” cycle end up with the same number of releases!

  6. Nebulus said on February 5, 2016 at 11:24 am

    IMO, this is an excellent idea as it gives Mozilla more flexibility. I hope they will use it well.

  7. John said on February 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

    They should focus on updating to minor versions more. A new mayor version for a very minor change in the browser is pretty stupied… we’re now at version 44something, if you’re lucky you got in that 6 week cycle 1 or 2 updates to the browser and another “mayor” version is being “forced” upon you. (there is not much point staying at a old version for a prolonged time, you can do so to wait for plugins to be updated for that version etc, but not much more due security etc).

  8. juju said on February 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

    rapid money laundering cycle – variable money laundering cycle. i guess they are having problem with the piping in the pipeline in that open sesame cave.

  9. Rick said on February 5, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Release whenever you want Mozilla. With under 10% of the browser market and falling, it really doesn’t matter much any longer.

    Fiddle / Rome / Burning

    1. All Things Firefox said on February 5, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Why does it matter that Firefox has less than 10% market share? A good product is a good product, no matter how many people use it. Just because Firefox has lower market share than before doesn’t mean that it should be discontinued altogether. It becomes a problem when it is too small to influence the marketplace and it is no longer worthwhile to upkeep it. I don’t think this is the case with Firefox.
      If you look at, you will see that Firefox has the same usage share as IE, and that it has been fairly stable for the past year.
      If you look at, you will see that Firefox has been fairly stable at about 8-10% user share. This means that according to these statistics, Firefox users browse the web disproportionately much.

      1. Froyton said on February 7, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        Whether or not Firefox can be called a “good product” is up for debate.

    2. svim said on February 5, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      I’d like to see documented evidence of your statement. Otherwise, it seems more like trolling. Whenever someone has to resort to fabricated verbage that’s an indicator to validity.

      1. jo said on February 5, 2016 at 9:19 pm

        From memory, when I checked for dec2015… yes, ten-point-something percentage was the current ff marketshare.

        google search “browser market share” and you can read for yourself the stats (updated monthly) gathered by various statskeeper entities like alexa, netmarketshare, wikipedia etc.

        Personally, I look for stats which separately present figures for “desktop” (vs “mobile”).

  10. Earl said on February 5, 2016 at 9:31 am

    What once was old is new again.

    This doesn’t have much effect on me. As it is, I get the notification that a new release is available. I backup/copy my existing install and then install the update. If the new release has no problems, then I stay there. If it does have problems, then I can just drop back to where I was. Easy-peazy. I expect their “variable” period will begin to stretch out to longer than “eight weeks” in no time at all–just like old times.

    I’m actually using Firefox more now than I was–more than the other browsers I use in addition to Fx. It’s just a lot more fun to work with (till Mozilla gets rid of XUL/XPCOM–idiots). I can make it look any way I want with hardly any CSS at all (I’m really enjoying my latest style–Australis Tabs Down Under) and work any way I want with one or more extensions (till Mozilla gets rid of XUL/XPCOM–did I mention that they’re idiots?).

    Oh, well. It’s good to see them doing something sensible for a change.

  11. Alexi said on February 5, 2016 at 9:06 am

    And exactly since they started rapid release cycle for Firefox, they destroyed it.

  12. Dwight Stegall said on February 5, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I don’t care what they do. I only use Firefox now for downloading gigabyte-sized files since its download managers are faster than Chrome’s.

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