Google decides to switch to a 4-week release cycle for Chrome

Google announced yesterday that it plans to migrate from a 6-week release cycle for its Chrome web browser and Chromium to a 4-week release cycle.

The company releases a lot of browser versions in the six week period, mostly beta and development versions of Chrome. Chrome Stable has a fixed release cycle of 6 weeks and will see its version bumped after the release period.

Starting in the third-quarter of 2021, that release cycle is reduced by two weeks. Google notes that it has optimized its release processes and testing in the past, and that the improvements paved the way for pushing out new Chrome Stable versions more quickly to users.

To address Enterprise needs, Google will release a new browser version called Extended Stable. Chrome Extended Stable will have a 8-week release cycle and get security update patches every 2-weeks. The browser version won't receive feature updates or even some of the security updates in the time according to the announcement.

Security updates on Extended Stable will be released every two weeks to fix important issues, but those updates won’t contain new features or all security fixes that the 4 week option will receive.

Chrome Stable and Chrome Extended Stable share the same features and patch levels in the first four weeks after a new release cycle begins. The two browser versions divert from each other in the four weeks that follow, as Chrome Stable will be bumped to a new version and receive new features as part of the process, while Chrome Extended Stable will stay on the previous version without these feature updates. The two browser versions are unified again after the 8-week release cycle ends.

via Google

What about other Chromium-based browsers?

Many third-party browsers are based on Chromium, including Vivaldi, Opera, Brave or Microsoft's Edge web browser. The browser makers are impacted by Google's decision to speed up the release cycle and have two main options at this point:

  • Follow Google's example and speed up the delivery of updates as well to a 4-week release cycle.
  • Switch to the Stable Extended release cycle and delay releases by 2-weeks.

Not all browser makers follow Google Chrome releases closely, but releases are tied to Chromium's development nevertheless. Another possibility could be to implement security patches as they become available, but divert from Google's release cycle otherwise.

We contacted several browser makers and will update the article once we get replies.

Vivaldi provided the following comment:

It will probably be very difficult for embedders to track the 4-week schedule. We are evaluating this and going forward will consider how to adapt to the new schedules. We want to give our users an up-to-date version in sync with Chromium updates.

Brave told us that they are switching from their 3-week cadence to a 4-week cadence to bump the Chromium version every 4-weeks.

Closing Words

Google follows Mozilla in speeding up the release cycle of the company's web browser. Both browser makers have switched to a 4-week release cycle by the end of the year. Mozilla switched already, Google will have made the switch in the third-quarter of 2021.

Now You: Do you care how often your favorite browser is updated?

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Google decides to switch to a 4-week release cycle for Chrome
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Google decides to switch to a 4-week release cycle for Chrome
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Google announced yesterday that it plans to migrate from a 6-week release cycle for its Chrome web browser and Chromium to a 4-week release cycle.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Jojo said on March 5, 2021 at 8:31 am
    Reply

    “Do you care how often your favorite browser is updated?”

    Nope. I am still using FF52.9.0 (32-bit) as my primary browser. The reason I stick with this browser is one extension – TabMix Plus, which hasn’t (apparently can’t be) ported to the new extension format.

    For sites that don’t work with the old browser, I have Chrome and the new Edge and both versions of Waterfox.

    And no, I don’t care about esoteric security exposures that few to no one will ever experience in real life..

    1. JojoRabbit said on March 5, 2021 at 10:01 am
      Reply

      This is how they get you

    2. Tom said on March 5, 2021 at 10:25 am
      Reply

      “esoteric security exposures that few to no one will ever experience in real life”

      Ouch. Some people should be forbidden to administrate a computer. Security is not a joke.

    3. Anonymous said on March 5, 2021 at 4:08 pm
      Reply

      Have you tried at least using Basilisk? It’s basically FF52.

    4. Anonymous said on March 5, 2021 at 9:08 pm
      Reply

      A lot of the updates relate to security. Your risk.

      1. Anonymous said on March 6, 2021 at 5:13 am
        Reply

        You’re also at much less of a risk using an obscure platform compared to one that everyone is using.

    5. Peterc said on March 6, 2021 at 4:10 pm
      Reply

      @Jojo:

      An actively maintained fork of legacy-Firefox Tab Mix Plus is available in the extension repositories of both Pale Moon and Basilisk.

      Pale Moon, a fork of Firefox with the pre-Australis (pre-Firefox 29) UI, is actively developed and regularly updated, so security vulnerabilities get patched rather promptly. (A security exploit is only “esoteric” until it affects *you*.) Classic Tab Mix Plus is not the *only* reason Pale Moon is still my default browser, but it’s definitely *one* of them.

      Basilisk is the Pale Moon project’s development (experimental) browser. It uses an Australis-style (Firefox 29+) UI and it doesn’t get updated as often as Pale Moon does. It might work for you if you prefer the Australis UI, and even if security fixes aren’t delivered as promptly as they are in Pale Moon, at least you’d get them eventually.

      My fallback browser for sites that don’t work in Pale Moon (e.g., Netflix) used to be Chrome, but I recently switched to Brave, which respects user privacy to a much greater extent than Chrome does.

      I stopped using Waterfox a while ago, for several reasons. First, it wasn’t well supported in Ubuntu-based distros. (The PPA I used stopped working; maybe a better one has replaced it.) Second, I consistently found it to be buggier than Pale Moon. And third, it got bought out by a marketing/advertising company.

      Although I’m unhappy with some of the changes Mozilla has made in Firefox — copying Google Chrome’s UI, adopting a safer but much less powerful Google-Chrome-style extension framework, and fudging their commitment to user privacy — I don’t have any special animus toward it. I just don’t really have a reason to use it anymore, since Pale Moon does 98% of what I need and Netflix works better in Brave than it did in Firefox. That said, I still keep an up-to-date install of Firefox on hand — just in case.

  2. ShintoPlasm said on March 5, 2021 at 8:40 am
    Reply

    Next up: Mozilla switches to a 4-day release cycle. By the end of the year, Firefox will be at version 3418.

    1. Tom said on March 5, 2021 at 10:26 am
      Reply

      This article is about Chrome but you think it’s a cool idea to bash against Mozilla. Makes sense. Not.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on March 7, 2021 at 10:05 am
        Reply

        Who’s bashing anything? Do you still do humour?

    2. Allwynd said on March 5, 2021 at 12:35 pm
      Reply

      Because a bigger version means it’s better. xD

      Chrome started this bullshit movement and everyone followed it, especially Firefox who was afraid to become irrelevant, because it’s only version 3.6.x when Chrome was already 10 or whatever.

      1. BaveIsAPonziScheme said on March 8, 2021 at 5:07 am
        Reply

        All the faster to get the spyware into Brave, a company focused on advertising and backed by venture capitalists

    3. Tony said on March 5, 2021 at 1:31 pm
      Reply

      Since the world has gone in full retard mode lately,i wouldn’t be surprised if Firefox would do exactly that.

  3. Allwynd said on March 5, 2021 at 8:56 am
    Reply

    Doesn’t change absolutely anything unless they remove the bloat from their browser that makes it so much slower than other Chromium browsers.

    The biggest kick in the nuts is when you use YouTube with Google Chrome and the website loads slowly, the transition to full screen and off freezes the screen for 1-2 seconds. Sometimes if you increase video speed to x1.5 and try to switch to full screen or off, the video stream plays as something like x4 speed and the audio remains at the x1.5 speed you set, then the video stream cuts out and you just see one still image while the audio stream continues.

    It’s a huge shame when a Chromium browser like Cent, which is still on version 86 and gets like 2 releases (or less) a year does a better job at handling Google’s half-assed jobs.

    1. Anonymous said on March 5, 2021 at 12:55 pm
      Reply

      Why don’t you deplatform Chrome like Google has done to many thousands of users the past few
      months on Youtube.

      By continuing to use this browser you support their censorship.

      1. Allwynd said on March 6, 2021 at 8:26 am
        Reply

        @Anonymous

        Who said I use Chrome?

        @Plas

        If your worldview is that people are trying to be cool about what kind of ones and zeros they use, you must have a very small and sheltered world.

    2. Plas said on March 5, 2021 at 4:18 pm
      Reply

      It’s a huge shame when people use browsers like Cent, when they know how outdated and a security cesspool it is and still use it to think they are cool or something.

    3. Bobby Phoenix said on March 5, 2021 at 6:18 pm
      Reply

      It’s funny you mention that. For at least the last five times I tried to watch a movie through “My Movies and TV” on Chrome it always seems to be slow and stutter. It’s Google’s own site, and is buggy on their own software. Yet I play it in Firefox, and it’s smooth as butter. Go figure.

    4. Anonymoose said on March 6, 2021 at 2:03 am
      Reply

      Hilarious. Perhaps YouTube is misidentifying Chrome as something else, and as a result deliberately behaving poorly. Wouldn’t be the first time Google sites deliberately provided users with a severely degraded experience on non-Google browsers/apps. Conversely Firefox may be doing a good job masquerading as Chrome on those same sites!

  4. anona said on March 5, 2021 at 10:24 am
    Reply

    Finally it’s Google copying Mozilla and not vice versa!

    That being said, these fixed release cycles and rapidly increasing version numbers are rubbish.

  5. thisneedstostop said on March 5, 2021 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    Agile needs to stop. There are too many bugs as is in both Firefox and Chrome. They should switch to a 20 week cycle with only security updates and bugfixes in between. This is unsustainable and leads to crappy products.

    Same with Microsoft, they should switch to a biyearly Win 10 release cadence.

    1. Anonymoose said on March 6, 2021 at 2:11 am
      Reply

      > This is unsustainable and leads to crappy products.

      Yes, I agree. Programmers are not robots, and the public also gets tired of beta-testing all the damn time.

      How do you define ‘biyearly’ – once every 2 years, or twice a year? Because it means both. :)

      Hopefully MS’ current plan to have 2 releases per year, with the first one being just a minor enablement package and the second one containing major changes/new features, will result in somewhat better quality upgrades.

    2. ShintoPlasm said on March 7, 2021 at 10:07 am
      Reply

      I completely agree. I hate Agile with a passion; it’s brought nothing but deterioration to good software.

  6. Anonymous said on March 5, 2021 at 11:26 am
    Reply

    vivaldi is a slow mess web app, brave keeps adding junk and edge is adding more and more bloat every day. i am sorry but i don’t see chrome slower than all other chromiums out there.

  7. Anonymous said on March 5, 2021 at 12:00 pm
    Reply

    Change and break the web fast enough that at the end only Google and selected clones control the software to access it.

    And like there were not enough security holes in browsers, let’s accelerate the half-baked releases even more. There’s more Google spyware to be added, that can’t wait.

  8. Yelan Voronehz said on March 5, 2021 at 4:22 pm
    Reply

    Aww. And here Mozilla was hoping to catch up in version numbers by the end of the year! Well, shoot. I guess they’ll just have to switch to full-blown Agile next (2-week cycle). ;P

  9. allen said on March 6, 2021 at 1:24 am
    Reply

    They need to lengthen their QA testing cycle, not shorten their release cycle.

    1. Anonymoose said on March 6, 2021 at 2:13 am
      Reply

      Why would they pay their testers more when you’re doing the job for free?

    2. BraveSucks said on March 8, 2021 at 5:54 am
      Reply

      Would be nice if Brave had any QA

  10. Anonymous said on March 6, 2021 at 11:59 am
    Reply

    https://www.ghacks.net/2019/09/17/mozilla-will-release-a-new-firefox-version-every-4-weeks-from-2020-on/

    https://www.ghacks.net/2021/03/05/google-decides-to-switch-to-a-4-week-release-cycle-for-chrome/

    Mozilla is really a Google subsidiary even for small details like that.

    Another recent one with more serious implications :

    https://www.ghacks.net/2020/12/22/first-bits-of-googles-privacy-sandbox-land-in-chromium-designed-to-eliminate-third-party-cookies/

    https://www.ghacks.net/2019/06/04/mozilla-enables-tracking-protection-by-default-in-firefox/

    And please don’t tell me that Google ditches third party cookies because Mozilla “forced” them to do that, obviously Google is the one of the pair with the power to decide, and it was Google’s long term plan all along, that they experimented in Firefox first, like lots of other things. Still laughing about the comedy that Mozilla and Google played at that time, with Google acting sooo upset that Mozilla was against third-party cookies and “threatening” to rely on fingerprinting instead, and now Google outing as their actual business strategy not wanting third-party cookies and saying they want to kill fingerprinting.

    I don’t blame Google for doing that, if I had their power, I would too build from scratch fake opposition puppets that I control tightly to make sure no real opposition can ever surface to do real damage.

    1. Anonymoose said on March 7, 2021 at 1:17 am
      Reply

      Wow, it really does take a special type of person to cook up such mind-boggling level of nonsense!

  11. Anonymous said on March 8, 2021 at 2:42 pm
    Reply

    I just want my browse to view the web page i’m looking at. I don’t need any stupid useless Ui changes and features Google keeps trying to push. Change for the sake of change.

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