Mozilla Chairman defends Firefox rapid-release cycle

Mozilla Chairman Mitchell Baker has posted in an official company blog post that Firefox will continue on its rapid-release cycle to prevent new features from being held up for a year. Baker believes that users want new features fast and not have to wait so long.

“A browser is the delivery vehicle for the Internet. And the Internet moves very, very quickly. 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. That means delivering capabilities when they are ready. That means a rapid release process. If we don’t do something like this the browser becomes a limiting factor in what the Internet can do,” Baker stated.

Mozilla is working on an accelerated release date for its Firefox browser which basically means we will see a new version of Firefox every six weeks. To put things in perspective, Mozilla released Firefox 4 on March 21st and Firefox 5 on June 18th. Mozilla plans to release Firefox 7 on September 27th.

Two issues were brought up regarding the rapid-release cycle. Firstly, add-ons need to be updated to maintain compatibility. Secondly, businesses dont have time to test new software and update every time a new Firefox version is released. “We need to be creative and try to find practical ways of alleviating these difficulties if we can,” Baker stated.

“I know that’s not a perfect answer, and it’s not a promise that we can meet everyone’s needs perfectly,” Baker said. “Despite this, I believe the rapid release process is the right direction.”

With the recent release of Firefox 6, Mozilla is already working on its next version, Firefox 7. A beta of Firefox 7 was just released and it promises significantly less memory usage than Firefox 4, Firefox 5, or Firefox 6. In fact, Mozilla promises a 50% cut in memory usage.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has promised long term support for its Internet Explorer browser. For example, IE9 will continue being supported until 2020.

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