Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

Summary: Despite an aggressive upgrade schedule, Mozilla is having a hard time convincing Firefox 3.6 users to upgrade.

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It's full steam ahead with the Firefox rapid release cycle at Mozilla!

Six weeks following the release of Firefox 7.0, Mozilla has unleashed Firefox 8.0. But despite this aggressive upgrade schedule, Mozilla is having a hard time convincing Firefox 3.6 users to upgrade.

Here are worldwide usage share figures from StatCounter for the past 7 days:

According to the data, Firefox 3.6 still commands a 5.92% usage share, putting it at position number 5, behind IE 8 (24.23%), Chrome 15 (21.93%), Firefox 7 (14.68%) and IE 9 (9.95%). Firefox 6 usage by comparison has fallen to 2.35%. Considering that Mozilla released Firefox 4.0 more than six months ago (March 22, 2011), it's holding its ground incredibly well.

Firefox 3.6 was the last 'traditional' release of the browser before Mozilla switched to a rapid release cycle that sees a new version making an appearance every 6 weeks. In the home environment, this is not a big problem. Sure, some add-ons might break, and people might have to spend a few minutes scratching their heads trying to find things that have moved, but none of this is a deal breaker. For business users, this aggressive release cycle is too much to have to deal with (because enterprise likes to test things before releasing them). It's simply too much to ask enterprise users to to test a new browser every six weeks, especially when there isn't much to appeal to enterprise users in those releases. Given this, sticking with version 3.6 makes a lot of sense. Mozilla has outlined plans to offer enterprise users a special version ESR (Extended Support Release) of Firefox that would have a more relaxed 42-week update cycle, but so far no ESR browser has materialized.

Mozilla is also getting ready to send an update notification to Firefox 3.6 users giving them the opportunity to upgrade. This isn't the first time that Mozilla has done this, and once again users will be free to decline the upgrade notification. If these people haven't been jazzed enough by the features in Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7, there's not an awful lot in Firefox 8 to catch the eye. Even performance is nothing to scream about.

Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP ... that particular version that people love and will cling on to for dear life. And people are clinging onto Firefox 3.6 for the same reasons that they are clinging onto XP. First reason, there's no compelling feature or reason driving people to move on. Secondly, people don't like UI changes for the sake of UI changes. Some UI changes make sense, but others seem to be done of a whim based on what developers wanted to see and not what users wanted. Thirdly, people aren't upgrading because they don't have to. There's no carrot and there's no stick.

Mozilla needs to fix the situation it's found itself in. It can do this by doing these two things:

  • Releasing an ESR version of Firefox
  • Announce an EOL (End of Life) date for Firefox 3.6

Doing this would send a clear sign to users that it's time to upgrade as opposed to the confusing message that Mozilla is currently sending out ('You should upgrade ... but here's an update for that old version you're running.').

Related:

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Windows

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24 comments
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  • No wonder since FireFox 4 and 5 were such a gross failures in terms of ...

    ... stability. Both of these versions could not survive a day without crashing few times. Often these crashes were so bad that FF could not ever restart, crashing again while loading. And the first time FF 4 was installed, it killed all of browsing history for many years.<br><br>Obviously, many people were scared off by that Windows ME quality of product and decided to <b>wait until Mozilla will stop shipping junk</b>.<br><br>With versions 6, 7, and possibly 8 (I did not download it yet) FF crashes much less often, though it is still not comparable to 3.6 version.
    dderss
    • Crashing On Dimdows, Right?

      @dderss You're a Windows user, right? Because Firefox doesn't crash for me on Linux.
      ldo17
    • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

      @dderss No problems with 4, 5, 6 or 7 here. They generally run for a couple of weeks without crashing or having to close them and restart (Windows and OS X).
      wright_is
      • Obviously, not everyone's set of pages cases the crashes

        @wright_is: howerver, FF4/5 generated thousands of complains on Mozilla's support site about the browser crashing and crawling.
        dderss
      • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

        @dders I can only go from personal experience. On my Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, Windows Server 2008R2 Terminal Server, SuSE Linux and OX X machines they has run without incident and the machines generally sleep every day and only get rebooted when new security updates are installed.
        wright_is
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    They need to find a better way to do plugin checks, IMHO. At the moment every plugin dev has to update their plugin to maintain compatibility each time Firefox is updated. Even if the plugins ARE compatible, the dev has to update their version numbers...
    Imrhien
    • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

      @Imrhien Agreed. And for some of us, the plugins are the perfect reason not to upgrade.
      themarty
  • Firefox should stop trying to be Chrome

    I recall somewhere that the reason that Mozilla decided to change the release cycle of FF is because Chrome was eating up a bunch of share, and it had a very aggressive release cycle. The thing is Chrome's aggressive release cycle is done right: clandestine. Granted I use Ubuntu most of the time, so ALL updates come in at once and I usually just have it update without even checking to see what updates and go on my way without an intrusive update (like updating Windows, or Java in Windows, or Flash in Windows, or Adobe Reader in Windows, or Quicktime + iTunes in Windows, ugh, since i don't log into windows but maybe twice a month, it seems like the first 30 minutes of using it I'm running updates, most of which require a reboot) but even in Windows Chrome updates itself so clandestine without being bothersome. For firefox it's not that way. It's slightly intrusive to update, especially since UAC bugs you to allow firefox to update itself (stupid). My dad didn't update firefox from 3.6 simply because he would not allow it too because he didn't want to take the time to do it and wasnt sure what exactly it was doing. Even for average users, Firefox's rapid release cycle is a bit of a headache. Chrome is seamless, hence the extreme majority of Chrome users are using an up-to-date version
    enkh855
  • Errr....

    Don't see why Firefox 3.6 users should go to 7.0. After all the versions after are buggy and bloated and offer little new. plus changing major version 4-5 times within 9 months is rediculous. Who do they think they are? Google? :-)
    Gisabun
    • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

      @Gisabun 7 seems to have fixed the memory leak problems, which have been a plague since version 2 (I remember submitting bug reports on memory leaks back in 2003/4).
      wright_is
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    Even a LOT of home users have someone in their family or circle of friends who does "support" for them. And those of us who get to answer questions have no time for changing US's every six weeks. Much less the broken plug ins that the typical users don't understand but expect to work. And when they don't blame FF.

    And on the Mac side they dropped PPC support. Made life easier for them but froze a large number of the installed base at 3.6. And if you have a family or small business with just one PPC computer then it is very likely that all the computers will stay at 3.6 until that one PPC is gone.

    Moz has made a mess for themselves. Now they get to try and clean it up. They forgot that many of their users were NOT geeks.
    raleighthings
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    they will get me to upgrade when they pull 3.6 from my cold dead hard drive....
    jonb@...
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    Show the line chart. It has a nice slope downwards. FF 3.6 is heading for zero. Soon developers will stop testing their sites on it. People will have to upgrade or use "broken" sites. Seriously, it won't be more than 3% in 6 months. By this time next year, and 8 more releases (FF 16), 3.6 will be forgotten.
    mmellinger66@...
  • Its all about the addons/themes/extensions/scripts

    If I can't use my favorite extensions and themes, or by the time that they become compatible, the browser has been moved up to another version, and this b/c of Firefox' too rapid releases of new versions that causes them to become incompatible, crippled, and/or crash when I try to use them anyway by overriding/tweaking them, then I no longer will need, nor will use Firefox, since that and tabbed browsing is what first made the browser so attractive to me back when it was still called Firebird, and I had been using the original Mozilla browser even before that, so I "was" a loyal and early adopter ...but it will be toodle-oo for good if Firefox keeps machine-gunning out these new versions!!<br><br>Heck, many if not most people who own/use Android smartphones aren't downloading and using the mobile "app" version of the Firefox browser, because it STILL doesn't support flash animation, OR (and even more amazingly) no "tabbed" browsing being available as yet, even with their latest so-called "upgrade" that just became available yesterday..aahaha!! <br><br>Now where did I put my thumbdrive with the MUCH longer-lived portable versions of the Palemoon, Seamonkey, and Orca browsers?<br><br>Hmm..
    damian56x
    • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

      @damian56x It's funny because Adobe just dropped Flash support for mobile. Also, I've been using tabs in Fennec for the last three months since I got an Android device, what are you talking about?
      KWierso
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  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    As it happens, Mozilla has not done a prompted update from 3.6 yet. As in, "This isn???t the first time that Mozilla has done this" is false. Which is why a bunch of users are still on 3.6: they haven't been prompted to update at all.
    bzbarsky
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    They should force the upgrade. There's no reason why consumers should be running an outdated browser, that to my knowledge is no longer supported by Mozilla.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • The reason why and the inevitable result

    Many people moved to Firefox because IE was unstable, insecure, and owned by "the man". It was a reactionary response. These are the self same people that won't shift from Firefox 3.6.
    The fear is that malware writers are going to realize this and target Firefox 3.6 and its popular plugins. And Mozilla isn't going to fix any vulnerabilities because they already have in their later versions. And where's that going to leave the militant 6% I wonder?
    keebaud@...
  • RE: Firefox 3.6 is Mozilla's Windows XP

    What i didn't like about 4 was it took up more space at the top with another ribbon of junk, and in other versions, stuff was added you could not get rid of. I like a inimalistic browser, so 3.6 is for me. Versions above 3.6 are like pot. OK for others, but I just say no. I might upgrade in the future if I like what I see, but only after I have seen it on someone else's computer and after I have read all the privacy policies etc.

    keebaud@... - we the militant 3.6 users - -well I guess we can take care of ourselves..
    opcom