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Why so many new major versions?

  • 23 réponses
  • 62 ont ce problème
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  • Dernière réponse par Fred

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Why have we had so many new Firefox versions this year? A major step was taken when 4.x was released at the begging of the year and since then we have had versions 5.x, 6.x, 7.x and now 8.x in the space of just a few months. It seems version 9 is already in beta....

Most of the updates seem to be minor or intermediate in nature - certainly nothing that would require a major version release - so why so many new versions this year?

Also, since the update facility does not automatically upgrade you to the next major version, are all these versions still supported?

Solution choisie

Updates have been changed to a rapid release cycle and that means an update every 6 weeks to the next major version.
The new version replaces the previous version and that version is no longer supported.

Only Firefox 3.6.23 and Firefox 8.0 are supported.
Currently Firefox 7.0.1 is still available due to investigating some crash reports.

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Solution choisie

Updates have been changed to a rapid release cycle and that means an update every 6 weeks to the next major version.
The new version replaces the previous version and that version is no longer supported.

Only Firefox 3.6.23 and Firefox 8.0 are supported.
Currently Firefox 7.0.1 is still available due to investigating some crash reports.

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"Updates have been changed to a rapid release cycle and that means an update every 6 weeks to the next major version."

Not sure what this is designed to prove as major releases are not usually expected that often (maybe annually or bi-annually) and I don't think this strategy is adding anything to Mozilla's credibility. Firefox is a gteat product but these 'rapid release'es are starting to get rather confusing especially as you now mention that previous versions are no longer supported, yet there is no automatic mechanism to upgrade. This means that in order to keep up to date and with a supported version, we have to do a manual re-install every 6 weeks.... But then, perhaps you are not considering large deployments in large organsiations, e.g. univerisites?

"The new version replaces the previous version and that version is no longer supported. "

Ah!.... So its all about cutting support costs.

"Only Firefox 3.6.23 and Firefox 8.0 are supported. Currently Firefox 7.0.1 is still available due to investigating some crash reports. "

Bad news! But thanks for confirming that. I had assumed that that at least the last couple of major versions would be supported - if not every one released this year - but it would seem that is clearly not the case.

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No, the new major version replaces the previous version just like in the past with minor updates and that makes previous versions become unsupported older versions (there will no longer be minor updates).
Minor updates are now only used to patch problems that can't wait till the next major update.
Updates that extend Firefox with extra features are now all major updates that have been tested on the other update channels (Nightly, Aurora, Beta)

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It seems like they cannot give a better answer to the question "Why so many new major versions?" other than it has changed to a "rapid release cycle". Well that doesn't answer the question. I wonder how can these constant updates make it better or easier to anyone, it is only frustrating to me and sure to everyone else who uses firefox. And by the way we are slowly switching to chrome for a better user experience. Firefox is no longer my preferred browser, enough is enough.

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The basic concept is to bring new features to Firefox user's a lot quicker, when they are ready. Instead of something new waiting 14 months (in the case of the Firefox 4 release), a new feature can be introduced in 6 weeks - assuming it was ready-to-go when the last release version was compiled and the new feature just missed the cut-off for the last version.

The old way of doing releases, every 12 to 14 months, may have worked fine when IE, Safari, Opera, and Firefox were the only players in the game, but with Google Chrome coming out with new features every couple of months Mozilla decided that they needed t0 step up their game with Firefox.

We'll keep the light on for you.

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So do we tell our clients that they should not use Firefox 4, 5, 6 or 7 when they come to us reporting issues with those browsers as they are no longer supported? I had a client today reporting Firefox 8.0 crashes when using JfileUpload (it's throwing some kind of GL rending error in the Java App) So do i tell him to go back to 3.6 which doesn't have the problem or to upgrade to Firefox 9.0 which may or may not have the problem?

Go back to the slower dev cycle where you released Quality less often rather than junk buggy software more often and get away from this ego based marketing ploy.

I Still develop in FF 3.6 and now have about 8 - 10 versions of FF and Chrome each as Portable Apps for testing. The Joke used to be that we needed to maintain 3-4 versions of IE. Now the jokes on you.

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There is something of an irony in that URL phrase! How can it be 'long-term' when the release is now so short lived! And given that plugins/extensions are often no longer compatible with the next major release... Or is there something I'm missing here?

Why is it that adding a new feature MUST mean a new major release? Cannot features still be added to point releases (e.g. 8.1 to 8.2) with minor releases (8.2.1 to 8.2.2) being reserved for bug fixes and security updates (unless the latter adds a major new security feature)? I though major releases came out maybe one or at most twice a year and were reserved for major overhauls including major look and feel changes or re-engineering for compatibility with a major new operating system version.

"No, the new major version replaces the previous version just like in the past with minor updates and that makes previous versions become unsupported older 'versions (there will no longer be minor updates)."

In that case the auto-update facility must also be changed to allow the currently installed version to be updated to the next new major release (as IE does). This is essential if we are to keep up with each new release.

AlexLais, I'm now also leaning towards Chrome. It seems fastert and slicker. If only it had a NoScript plugin...

Modifié le par forumposter

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This just seems like a bs marketing technique in order to raise the version number equal or higher than IE. The only people that this will impress are those that won't install (or even know what one is), a 3rd party browser anyway. I'm getting quite irritated about it myself and am considering stopping use of it, considering 3 more annoying releases are due out in the next few months.

At first launch, "v8" has no immediately noticeable improvements to me over v7, v6, v5. Spreadsheet formulas get confused when you reference the same cell as an input as the end result. ie. paraphrase of 'We're releasing them faster because we're releasing them faster.' No reason to think people don't get confused either by this logic.

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While this question is several weeks old I thought it does deserve a good answer and as of a week a go some are still looking for one.

Take a look at the list on Features like WebGL, Websockets, 3d CSS transformations, File API, Geolocation and many more are all new. This is all part of HTML5 and CSS3, or more generically referred to as Web 2.0. With that many new technologies I am sure the accelerated release schedule was needed so they could put these features out to let developers start using them, so that mozilla (and others) could get feedback and with that feedback they then could make more changes and additions. There is just way too much there to implement all at once without it leading to a nightmarish number of bugs and even security wholes, potentially dooming them to a loss of market share. It could be argued that the accelerated release was the best way to go about this many major changes.

I'll point to Websockets, they started implementing them in 4 but it was disabled do to security issues. It wasn't till August of this year (if I remember correctly) that a protocol was available to make it secure. And while I think version 7 had that protocol it wasn't till version 8 that Websockets was enabled by default in the browser. Then there is WebGL were many a problem has arisen with graphic card drivers and them having to eventually resort to banning some graphics card from being used with WebGL . And I would guess some of the other technologies have faced simpler issues I just haven't looked into them as much.

Even now Firefox still doesn't fully support WebGL or 3d CSS and I know a new protocol is in the works for Websockets. If I am not mistaken all the major browsers are on an accelerated release schedules to get all these new technologies implemented. And beyond the technologies in that list there are others they don't even mention, like WebCL and possibly others. I would fully expect the accelerated release schedule to continue for the foreseeable future. But when they get through implementing all these new technologies the face of the internet will have been drastically changed, and arguably for the better.

Modifié le par Kriknos

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Kriknos,you are the first person to actually attempt to answer the question, and for that I deeply thank you. People like cor-el and the-edmeister seem to think 'shut up and use it' is an answer, and it really isn't.

That said, is it really necessary to force every single user to serve as an unwilling beta-tester for every two-bit patch? Some people just want to surf the web, without having to manually update their browser every few weeks. Large companies have a testing process they have to go through before distributing an upgrade to what might be hundreds or thousands of computers. A new release cycle the same length as their testing process is little more than an argument for scrapping firefox.

If the goal is to make firefox a browser developed by developers, for developers, with no interest in having a user base, firefox is doing it about perfect.

If they really want a user base, even a little, the developers need to look outside their Ivory Tower.

I quit using firefox for several versions once upon a time, and survived; I can do it again. (and I won't be alone)

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Another question just occurred to me.

If FireFox is going to be putting a new major version out every month and a half, why do they even show the version point numbers? Every release is going to be 'n.0.0' version under this system -- there isn't enough time to release a point system unless they skip testing entirely.

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I just got a notice to update/upgrade to 9.0.1 for security reasons, but am using 8.0 (highest release permitted for the online employer I work for). The system seems to think I am still part of the beta release channel, but I've done my damnedest to get off it. There is no info ANYWHERE that I can find about how to do that, other than installing an older version than the beta (which I assume is still 9.0). Done that, but as noted, it's not enough.

To be crystal clear: tell me how to get completely off the beta release channel.

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Firefox 9 was released on 12-20 and 9.0.1 followed a few days later - not a Beta version.

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Let me pose a very blunt, hypothetical question: what is the upside of developing the most up-to-date (which is an ephemeral notion, at best), robust, feature-packed application... if at the end of the day you've so confused, consternated and downright alienated people that you no longer have a user base?

No auto-upgrade means inconvenienced, disgruntled users. Rapidly changing versions means confused users. Lack of support means users grasping for help or, sooner or later, for a viable and less disruptive alternative. Does any of this sound good to you?

I've been a Firefox user almost since it first came out. I like it. It's relatively lean & mean and highly configurable. It's open source and conforms to standards as well as anything out there. I even love the little foxy logo, it gives me the warm & fuzzies. But with what I'm reading in this thread, plus the problems I'm seeing with the latest version and lack of kb articles / response I'm getting to my post, I think it's time to go download Chrome.

That's sad.

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Excuse me...don't talk to me as to why the new versions are happening; I want to know why my computer keeps crashing. AND the problem is with Firefox! Yesterday is took 2 1/2 hours to get on-line because before I could get anywhere while FIREFOX crashed.

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Now the stampede to have a new higher major version number every x weeks is just plain daft and the point releases shortly thereafter merely point at insufficient testing of code.

How about getting a sensible version system, say 12 for the year and a point release each month? A system where you can instantly tell when it was updated, ie. 12.2 for February 2012.

I still use 3.6 for what it is worth. Some of the addons I find essential to online life are not compatible with FF 5, 6, 7, 9, etc. Usually a major version is released for a MAJOR change to the program, not that we added a cool new feature!

Your current release mechanism is daft in the extreme, as pointed out in the proceeding posts to this. Simply saying upgrade is not really an option unless you wish to alienate the loyal user base that made you what you are!

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There are discussions to move Firefox from a x.0 based versioning system to a date based versioning system (somewhat like Ubuntu uses, mm.yy). However, none of those discussions have reached fruition yet.

There is an ESR of Firefox, which is an Extended Support Release. This version received security and stability updates, but not new features updates, for a year. So, instead of going from 8 to 9 to 10, this version goes like this 10.0.1 to 10.0.2, etc. Until next year, when it will receive an update to what will probably be Firefo 17, when it begins the process again. It isn't really recommended for most users, but if you need more stability in your version numbers, I would switch to the ESR. You can read about it at

I would try giving it a go. Firefox 3.6 is not going to be supported after April of this year, so you won't receive any more security or stability updates.

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I agree with the poster above. Too many new releases!

It makes it look like Firefox has no development roadmap. And inconvenient for users and plugin writers.

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I hope these discussions will reach a rather obvious conclusion soon, as the current situation with upgrade cycles is a nightmare. Several of the clients I work for have 5.0 installed and do not update at quite such a frenetic pace.

The suggestion about the ESR release was very interesting and one that has been put forward to them. Ubuntu uses a version system which is FAR more sensible than the one now being used for Firefox releases. On seeing the ESR release schedule showing version 24 in just over a years time was met with plenty of questions. Repackaging so often is a time consuming task to deploy the update across hundreds of desktops.

I would urge a change to a date-based versioning system to avoid an exodus of users, who like me have been loyal since the beginning but now feel the continual update cycle to be a pain. The few test extensions I had written would need constant revision so they have been shelved. Test systems built to test each version so often is just plain daft.

You are playing into the hands of IE and Chrome will this constant meddling just to bump up another version number. Please reconsider....

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hear hear: "no development roadmap."

At first I was upgrading in response to the upgrade advice suggesting "Major Security Issues resolved," but arriving at v12.0 today, that seems to be just stock boilerplate.

The "congratulations for upgrading" page (which -- by the way -- I didn't get taken to this time) has no discussion of the value added with each upgrade. You have to drill down into release notes. I don't mean just read them, I mean "drill down," since major improvements are not discussed as a top-level item.

The Firefox organization needs to learn about and incorporate Expectations Management.

For whatever reasons, continual major upgrades do dissuade me from FF; I find myself moving toward Chrome, too.


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