Version Numbers And Rapid Releases Here To Stay For Firefox

Brad Chacos

Firefox’s new rapid release schedule has stolen some of the limelight away from Chrome and dumped it back in Mozilla’s lap, but the attention hasn’t all been good. The quick-fire pace of new launches caused enterprise sysadmins to metaphorically grab their torches and storm the castle, while a rumor that Firefox would ditch version numbers entirely led to even more consumer angst. Two key Mozilla employees tried pouring water on the flames of discontent this week.

First off, Firefox flat-out isn’t getting rid of version numbers ; designer Alex Faaborg said the rumor got started because of some miscommunication amongst members of the dev team.

“Just in case this got lost amongst the many threads in progress: there are no plans to adjust the version number. It will remain in its current place in the about window, and we are going to continue with the current numbering scheme.”

Meanwhile, Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker acknowledged the difficulties – such as enterprise issues and broken add-on compatibility – that arise with a rapid release schedule, but said that the pluses outweigh the minuses. It used to be a year or more between major Firefox releases, Baker stressed, and that sort of time frame just isn’t acceptable in the fast-past modern world.

“A browser is the delivery vehicle for the Internet.  And the Internet moves very, very  quickly,” Baker said. “Philosophically, I do not believe a product that moves at the speed of  traditional desktop software can be effective at enabling an Internet where things happen in real time. If we want the browser to be the interface for the Internet, we need to make it more like the Internet. “

It’s a compelling argument to be sure, but will it sway the hordes of upset administrators who are poised to dump Firefox and skedaddle back into Internet Explorer’s slow-release arms?

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