Mozilla to enterprise customers: "Drop dead"

Mozilla to enterprise customers: "Drop dead"

Summary: The Mozilla Corporation shipped Firefox 5 this week, almost exactly three months after it shipped Firefox 4. New releases are due every six weeks. So what does Mozilla say to reassure enterprise customers who are worried about testing and deployment of Firefox? "Go away. We don't need you."

TOPICS: Browser

The Mozilla Corporation shipped Firefox 5 this week, almost exactly three months after it shipped Firefox 4.

Does that seem like an insane tempo? Ha! Fasten your seatbelts, because Mozilla plans to ship Firefox 6 in exactly six weeks, with Firefox 7 six weeks after that, and Firefox 8 … well, you get the idea. Not coincidentally, that release schedule perfectly matches up with browser archrival Google Chrome.

At that pace, in June 2014, a mere three years from now, Firefox will be on version 29.

If you’d prefer to opt out of that breakneck development cycle, Mozilla has some guidance for you: Fuggedaboutit.

Remarkably, that is Mozilla’s direct, uncensored response to its corporate partners.

If you are even considering migrating your business to Firefox, I strongly recommend you read two recent blog posts by consultant Mike Kaply.

Kaply, whose consulting company specializes in customizing Firefox for enterprises, calls the new rapid-release policy “a really bad idea.” The worst part is that with each new release, Mozilla is completely dropping support for the previous one.

Unlike consumers, who are thrilled at the chance to install new code every six weeks, enterprises crave stability:

Companies simply can’t turn around major browser updates in six weeks (and each one of these is a major update). With security releases, there was a reasonable expectation that web applications wouldn’t break as a result of changes. With these releases, there is no such expectation. So a full test cycle needs to be run with every release. By the time this cycle is completed and the browser is piloted and deployed, another version of Firefox would already be released so they’d already be behind.

In a follow-up post, Kaply quotes two fellow enterprise admins who are extremely worried about their ability to support Firefox.

So, has Mozilla reached out to Kaply to reassure him that they’ve got his back? No. In fact, Firefox evangelist Asa Dotzler showed up in the comments of Kaply’s post to tell him, bluntly, that he can expect zero support:

Mike, you do realize that we get about 2 million Firefox downloads per day from regular user types, right? Your “big numbers” here are really just a drop in the bucket, fractions of fractions of a percent of our user base.

Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them, I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about.

Some 14 hours later, after Kaply argues that Mozilla should “throw a few resources at [the problem] and try to solve it,” Dotzler doubles down:

A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy. I’d much rather Mozilla spending its limited resources looking out for the billions of users that don’t have enterprise support systems already taking care of them.

You hear that, enterprise admins? You don’t count, and Mozilla has no intention of supporting your extensive investments in testing browser releases before deployment. And if you think that’s just a misunderstanding, Dotzler wants to make it very, very clear that Mozilla is serious:

As for John’s concern, “By the time I validate Firefox 5, what guarantee would I have that Firefox 5 won’t go EOL [end of life] when Firefox 6 is released?”

He has the opposite of guarantees that won’t happen. He has my promise that it will happen. Firefox 6 will be the EOL of Firefox 5. And Firefox 7 will be the EOL for Firefox 6.

Back in March, when Firefox 4 was released, I looked at the browser space and concluded that Microsoft and Google were in a superb position to squeeze Firefox into irrelevance.

I didn’t count on Mozilla actively participating in its own annihilation.

In a world that will increasingly be defined by HTML5 apps, providing a stable channel for businesses is crucial. The response from other enterprise-focused customers in that thread is scathing.

Meanwhile, I hear maniacal laughter and sighs of relief coming out of Redmond, where Internet Explorer has just solidified its once-shaky position at the top of the enterprise heap.

Update: As of June 24, 2011, less than six weeks before the scheduled release of Firefox 5, this is the published product roadmap for that release:

  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • ...anything that improves responsiveness and is ready
  • ...anything that improves stability and is ready
  • ...anything that polishes the user interface and is ready
  • ...anything else serving product priorities and is ready

That's also the "roadmap" for versions 6 and 7, both due before the end of the year. If you're developing on the Mozilla platform, is that enough information for you?


Topic: Browser

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  • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

    And people wonder why Internet Explorer isn't going anywhere in the enterprise. Internet Explorer supports more, is more customizable to enterprise needs and every install can be centrally managed via policy. I really don't get Mozilla's stance on this, it seems like they're taking 10 steps backwards.
    • They're doing like Apple

      Picky enterprise-users are not interesting when they are just a tiny, almost indiscernible part of all possible users.

      Apple understood a long time ago that the users at home all over the world are the ones to please to get success.

      Just look at the success of Apple's i-products. :)
      • Just look at the lack

        @Mikael_z --- of success for safari. itunes would be but a blip on the pages of software history were it not for the i-products.

        Ed is talking about software, not hardware.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        @Mikael_z <br><br>I work for a corporation. The last time I checked corporations with enterprise-users are a substantial driving force in the economy.<br><br>I have 2 computers at home and 2 at work. That's a 1-1 ratio if we don't talk about work phones, tablets, etc! I am fairly confident that enterprise users are a fair amount of the market share.

        There is simply not enough time to test a new browser for active implementation that quickly in a corporate environment, especially if its updated every 6 weeks.
      • Apple

        Apple actually charges for their products. Plus, it IS businesses who have sustained Apple. Find any reputable music studio - they're Apple and Pro Tools based. Film production? Apple. Graphics departments in corporations? Apple.
        When there were no i* products, Apple stood alive because of paid products. I don't know of anyone who has paid for Firefox.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        @Mikael_z Microsoft still dwarfs apple on the number of machines. Apple is bigger because of the hardware, Ipod, Iphone, and Ipad, not by being on more computers. This include the home computers as well.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        You would be wrong in that assumption as the enterprise standards are IE still. i as a public user have about 30 computers myself plus smartphones and tablets and firefox is my prefered browser of choice on all. Now take all IT units and compared to all non IT machines out in use and let me know that ratio.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        What are you smoking? Have you not graduated from college yet and haven't join the work force??? You do know that enterprise users are what drives tech sales and microsoft's 90% share of desktop right? You sir have spent too much time breathing the air at apple stores. Its made you insane.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:


        I?m not sure what assumption you are referring to? Corporate entities and enterprise-users make up a significant amount of any computer market. In our environment we deploy IE, not Firefox, as I would assume is true for many corporations.

        Within the post I responding to, he was suggesting that Apple grew based on their software marketed to non-enterprise users. Apple survived based on their hardware which they chose to tie to their own software (iTunes, etc.) and their professional software (such as ?final cut? or ?pro-tools?). It was not their software that got Apple where they are. Regardless, enterprise and corporate users are still a large part of the overall numbers.

        I?m assuming as a public user you are talking as a small business? I can?t imagine that you have 30 personal computers and multiple phones all for yourself; they are most likely for employees and are a part of a business. Regardless of what you run on them, they aren?t your personal computers and would still leave a reasonable work to home computer ratio.
      • You have to please both

        Apple got lucky they hit onto something at the right time, but they in a sense got help from the carriers and internet adoption - alot of things had to fall intoplace for smartphones to be a success, and they did.

        But for years they scorned the enterprise and it cost them quite alot.

        You can say that "Apple understood the consumers" but that's hindsight, an easy thing to say today. History shows that for 15 years that if they understood the home users why such a tiny percentage of the market?

        Mozzilla has to keep both happy.
        Will Pharaoh
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

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        let me inform you, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the difficulty is one thing that not sufficient people are speaking intelligently about
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

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      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

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      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

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      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        @Mikael_z Yeah, Apple has been able to narrow down its market it nail it down. A very good lesson for any business. <a href="">Reverse Cell Phone Lookup</a>|<a href="">Landscape Lighting</a>|<a href="">Outdoor Patio Lights</a>
    • Mozilla does not go backwards since there are actually no 'major' updates

      @jmiller1978: ... with all these numbers of versions jumping. So enterprises just treat this 5.0 release as 4.1 release and that is it -- mostly bug-fixes and very minor feature update.

      While Mozilla does not really steps backward, it does not step forward in direction of enterprises either. Though, they can not do much about it since Microsoft is obviously not going to support enforce of Firefox policies from Windows Server.
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        @DeRSSS ... Treating releases as .1 releases would work fine except that they're making major changes to their rendering engines in the process which really negates that consideration.

        It's also more than just the release pace too. Ed didn't even bring up the issue of being able to "lockdown" the browser via Group Policy to prevent users from installing things they ought not install.
      • Microsoft doesn't have to


        Anyone can write an .adm file for group policy management for their application. They do exist for Firefox as well as Chrome. But this is insane. "The Billions of consumers". Really? Billions? Wow, that's impressive. Considering there aren't "billions" of computers worldwide. I'm not sure why your answer to any customer would be "piss off".
      • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

        I disagree. If you stop supporting the previous version, you just did a major breaking change, no matter how you try to spin it.
        What this really means is that Mozilla cannot cope with providing any sort of service level agreement demanded by Enterprise, whereas the poor home user will just take what you throw at them. Trouble is, Enterprises are the places that develop the websites! Are they going to continue testing their sites with constantly changing Firefox versions? More likely we will start to see the dreaded "Please download a compatible browser" messages coming back.
    • RE: Mozilla to enterprise customers:

      @jmiller1978 <br>IE is not more customisable, it just doesn't break the ****** Intranet somone built for you, doesn't break the Web Reporting Services front-end no-one can find the source code for, ad nauseum..............<br><br>Which IE8 onwards<br>Chrome<br>Safari<br>Opera<br>Firefox<br><br>do............

      down to crappy/incompetant programmers doing shonky code and sites.