Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mozilla Wants To Force Out Firefox 3.5

Firefox 4 has been out for sometime now and Mozilla wants users of their older browsers to migrate to the newest versions of the application. So much so that they have created plans to aggressively push the update out to Pre-Firefox 4 users.

We need a plan to obsolete Firefox 3.5 as we can't support it into perpetuity. We have been frustrated with our efforts to move users off of old releases and are worried too many people do not upgrade and are on vulnerable and unsupported versions of Firefox.

Mozilla believes there are currently more than 12 million people still running an outdated version of Firefox 3.5 which they are planning to end support for. Mozilla is now shifting to an 18-week release cycle, which means we'll see several updated versions of Firefox this year and they hope to get users updated as quickly as possible to their developers can concentrate on the newer releases.

So Mozilla is hoping through a continual nagging of messages at the bottom of the customized Google start/home page, continual messages from the automatic update channel and posts like this users will opt-in to the update. If not they have said they may "make the decision for users by automatically upgrading them versus leaving them vulnerable and unsupported."

According to the plans Mozilla would like to achieve 100% adoption of Firefox 4 and eventually Firefox 5 and beyond. However they would currently settle for anything above Firefox 3.6.x.

Mozilla believes pushing users to update from 3.5 to 3.6.x is ideal as there aren't any major variations between the two versions. Users will see little in UI changes and they note that more than 95 per cent of add-ons are compatible. Once users are updated to 3.6.x they can expect to be prompted to update to Firefox 4 and eventually to Firefox 5.

Firefox 5 is currently in Mozilla's Aurora channel, but is expected to move to beta soon. Aurora is a recently created channel that now comes between nightly builds and beta in order to "deliver features to users at various levels of quality and polish," Mozilla said last month. Firefox 5 is scheduled for a final release on June 21. Firefox 6 is currently in the nightly channel and is scheduled to move to Aurora on May 24.

My opinion

I understand Mozilla wanting to keep users updated and I totally understand the pains involved in supporting older versions. For me I just don't like the idea of being pushed to upgrade. I didn't care for the UI changes made in Firefox 4 and have yet to see Firefox 5. I have upgrade but only because I change my UI back to something that more resembles Firefox 3. Going from 3.5-3.6 really isn't that big a leap so users shouldn't have any regrets making the change but its still the 'forced change' I'm not big on.

I mean are we really going to see companies forcing us to change to new software every 1-2 years? I mean if it was several years off and if they gave me a UI I liked that would be one thing. I just can't think of any company that ends support that quickly?

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