Mozilla is in a bit of a quagmire. Not only is usage of the Firefox browser declining, and according to some metrics Google's Chrome has pushed it into third place, but it's also having trouble convincing Firefox 3.6 users that it's the end of the line and it's time to upgrade to Firefox 8.0.1.
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According to web metrics firm NetMarketShare, Firefox 3.6 is the second most used version of Mozilla's browser with a usage share of 5.3%, behind Firefox 8 which has a usage share of 7.3%.
Mozilla is now to start notifying Firefox 3.6 users of the new version in the hopes of getting them to upgrade. That might be a tough sell.
The problem is that there's a stalwart group of Firefox 3.6 users who do not like what Mozilla have done with the browser post 3.6. They don't like the new user interface, they don't like the fact that it breaks some plug-ins, they don't like some of the new bugs, and the especially don't like the idea of Mozilla shoving a new browser onto them every six weeks or so.
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.
I think that it's time that Mozilla announce an End Of Life (EOL) date for Firefox 3.6 and release the ESR version for those who don't want to be saddled with a new browser every six weeks.
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Image credit: Jenn McGowan