Firefox and the rapid release schedule

[sc:software-category ]Firefox 6 was released this week and I can’t help but think why?

Mozilla has decided that taking months to release a new version of Firefox is too long, with Chrome releasing a new version so often, I guess they feel left behind.

But is it really a good thing to release a major release so often?  What constitutes a major release?

Over the years I’ve developed a few projects, both closed source and open source and to me a major release had better have something big in it.  If your and end user piece of software like Firefox, then the user had better be able to see the change.  If you’re a server side piece of software like Apache, then it had best bring new features or simpler administration to the table.

Point releases should be the exact opposite, minor fixes and updates that the users and administrator should hardly notice.  Security fixes, bug fixes, a few new options in existing features.

By this definition, FireFox 6 is really only Firefox 5.1.  Maybe not even that.

And it only gets worse, if we start talking a new release every 6 weeks, in just 5 years we’re at FireFox 46.

That is just silly.

And now Mozilla is talking about removing the version number from the about dialog, which of course makes perfect sense when you have a stupid numbering system that will make you look foolish every time anyone displays the about dialog.  They say it will still be in the troubleshooting dialog, but come on, it’s the about dialog, it should show information about the product, including the version.

And really, who wants to update their browser ever 6 weeks anyway?  Oh sure, it should be transparent to the user, except for the 2 or 3 add-ons that fail, or the theme that no longer works, or the new bug that gets introduced.

This is just an outsiders opinion on the matter, but I think the FireFox developers have forgotten that they are not the typical user of their product.  Typical users just want things to work, they hate installing new stuff and hate big numbers even more.  It’s why IE 6 kicked around so long, if it works, they don’t want to fix it.

Microsoft knows this, they’re even running a TV ad at the moment showing a person with a 4 your old PC saying its good enough.  They’re spending big money to convince users to upgrade because users hate to upgrade…

…unless they’re getting something new and flashy of course Winking smile.

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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