Mozilla goes version number crazy

Mozilla goes version number crazy

Summary: By June 2012 Mozilla wants Firefox 13 to be in the hands of users and version 16 available on the nightly channel.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Just when Mozilla was starting to see sense over the whole nonsense about removing the Firefox version number from the place where everyone on the planet expect to find it, we now get word that there will be a new Firefox version every six weeks until June 2012.

Asa Dotzler, Firefox Product Manager, posted this over on his blog:

Click to enlarge

So, by June 2012 Firefox will be on version 13 with version 16 being available on the nightly channel.

What's going to be in version 13? Who knows, because even Mozilla's own roadmap only goes up to version 10!

So Mozilla has a plan to release a browser but as yet has no idea what will be in that browser, meaning that it has no reason to plan it's release.

Whaaaaaa ... ????

Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, tries to justify Mozilla's rapid release process in a post over on her blog:

Before Mozilla instituted the rapid release process, we would sometimes have new capabilities ready for nearly a year before we could deliver them to people. Web developers would have to wait that year to be able to make their applications better.

She does, however, acknowledge that there are difficulties that need resolving:

As my colleague Brendan is fond of saying, "There is no free lunch." This means we need to listen carefully to those who are experiencing difficulties. We need to be creative and try to find practical ways of alleviating these difficulties if we can. This is true for the enterprise use case, and it's true for the add-on experience. I know that's not a perfect answer, and it's not a promise that we can meet everyone's needs perfectly. Despite this, I believe the rapid release process is the right direction.

I really don't know what to make of this. The only explanation I have is that folks over at Mozilla have version number envy. Pushing this level of rapid development process (or rapid version number inflation, which is what I see it as) on users, developers and enterprise is just crazy. Sure, Mozilla has feature that it wants to push into the browser as fast as possible, but it's also pushing new bugs to replace the old, fixed, bugs. Most of the time the new bugs and features don't outweigh having the old bugs fixed. Most people are happy with having bug fixes drip-fed to them but don't want to have new features and interface changes forced upon them every few weeks (those that do want continuous updates opt for Google Chrome). It's also pushing out UI changes and updated rendering engines which cause hassles.

Another aspect that makes this version number race even more crazy/stupid/pathetic is that it extends well beyond the current roadmap ... it's version number bumping for the sake of version number bumping. Seriously, this makes no sense whatsoever. It seems like a crazy, frenzied release schedule that only benefits Mozilla's desire to get Firefox in double-digit version numbers.

Here's the deal ... I don't want the headache of an update every six weeks, especially is that extends out into mid 2012. Seriously. Maybe the best thing to do is wait until version 13 or 16 or whatever and hope that's a complete browser that Mozilla is happy with and we'll then have some stability. Alternatively, why doesn't Mozilla adopt a rolling release schedule but offer long term support for certain releases?

It seems to me that Mozilla has a case of bad version number envy and nothing - users, developers, enterprise - will get in the way of boosting the version numbers into the stratosphere. Just as with the whole debate about removing version numbers, Mozilla seems to have forgotten that a lot of people have come to use Firefox, and is now pushing ridiculous hassles onto users that offer no benefit to the user.

I'm glad that Chrome and Chromium exists and that IE9 is pretty decent, because it means that I no longer need to bother with Firefox.

Topic: Browser

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35 comments
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  • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

    One way to beat google...
    Scrabbler
  • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

    Until they knock it off I'm removing Firefox from my school network and requiring users to go to Chrome if they don't want IE.
    Admin71
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @Bookmark71 Yup, switch to Chrome, another browser with frequent updates. This is getting insane alright...
      jgm@...
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      Until they knock what off?

      And how will Chrome fix this?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @Bookmark71 that makes a lot of sense. Switch from one gEt updating browser to a bad browser that also has fast updates.
      Jimster480
  • Errrm. It's just a number.

    Let the n'er do wells try to fuzz at that pace.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @Dietrich

      But those numbers break things.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

        Oh so well. An excellent reason to go back to IE, or never make the switch FireFox.
        TsarNikky
      • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

        For now, but they're removing that from the addons soon. After that, why will you complain?
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      Way to miss the point. It's not the number, it's the frequent releases.
      aep528
  • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

    They could have created a better number version system.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @LoverockDavidson_ How about using Fibonacci numbers? This way, Mozilla would get to 13 much sooner. Nah. That would be too much like Google.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

    What ever happened to the numbering convention that has worked so well for decades? Significant application change gets a full number (3.0). Major update gets a "decimal" increment (3.2). Minor update gets "second level" increment (3.2.5). If other major vendors can work within this structure, why does Mozilla feel they have to be different?
    TsarNikky
    • Internal build but not the public

      @TsarNikky

      A lot of the "major" companies have stepped away from version numbers for the public or have dabbled in alternative user friendly public versions.

      Microsoft started out that way with DOS and Windows but moved away from that Windows 95. Internally it had a build number but to the public it was a year date. Then they moved away from that to XP and Vista. It is only now that they came back to a version but to the public it is Windows 7 and Service Pack number (not 7601.17514.101119-1850 or whatever).

      Google doesn't stress version numbers to the public at all. It is either BETA or not.

      Ubuntu increments up the whole number each year (for the year date) and slaps a month number after the dot. This means that their very first released version was 4.10 (released October 2004). There should have been a big uproar over that since they didn't start at 1.0!

      Frankly, It is just much easier for the average user to say I have Firefox 6 vs. Firefox 4.7 or 4.7.3.1a. When they see that 7 has arrived they know to update were 4.7.4.1 or 4.7.3.1b doesn't help them to understand that they need to update like a whole number release does.
      dragosani
  • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

    AARRRGHHHHH! This is making my head explode for the first time since that "Obama wasn't born in America" thing. I think it's time I personally challenge Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, LoverockDavidson, Cylon Centurion and Dietrich T. Schmitz to an online debate over Mozilla version numbering and updates. To be debated: whether or not everything Mozilla is doing with releases and numbering makes perfect sense, why Mr. Kingsley-Hughes continues to make post after post calling Mozilla's practices insane after it's all been rendered sane, and whether or not Mozilla is doing nothing that Google isn't already doing. I await responses and suggestions as to venue, date and time. This madness must end.
    jgm@...
  • Sweeping Generalization

    You seem to be under the assumption that raising the version number each release is bad. It is only a number used to keep track of the version of the software. They can use 12.0 or 12.5 or 12.5.6.7. It really doesn't matter in any way as long as they keep the number going higher for each release.<br><br>Then from this it looks like you arrived at an irrelevant conclusion. They have moved to whole number release versions so they must be version number crazy or jealous.<br><br>"Heres the deal I dont want the headache of an update every six weeks, especially is that extends out into mid 2012."<br><br>Ah let me tell you the deal. You don't have to update every 6 weeks. Go into Options and turn automatic update off. Then update whenever it is convenient to you.<br><br>"Alternatively, why doesnt Mozilla adopt a rolling release schedule but offer long term support for certain releases?"<br><br>Why should they? Firefox is a web browser. Microsoft got beat up because they took to long to update. It actually slowed the entire development of web technologies down for years. Browsers need to be current and modern so that we can move web technologies forward. Browsers need to continue to improve without leaving stalwart hold outs or we end up with circa IE6.
    dragosani
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @dragosani
      Thank you for the sane idea of turning off options. I didn't even know it existed, but now all 5 systems' Firefox is turned off.

      I've said before, I'm not going to update again unless there is a major security hole fixed. I've got extensions (add-ons) that are invaluable, but cannot run because of these stupid insanely fast updates. I'm to the point now, to just abandon FF6 (lastest...wait...here comes another...) and go back to FF 4. The last one whereby the add-ons worked with.

      I know for a fact too, that some STILL work, but Mozilla's turns off any they think doesn't work. Maybe as Mr. Kingsley-Hughes put it. By 2012, they'll have a stable version. Then lets upgrade.

      - Kc
      kcredden2
      • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

        @kcredden2 Chances are nothing has broken. Mozilla Addons have a range of compatible software. If it's outside of that range, it doesn't even attempt to work. Wait for them to tweak the version number or hell, do it yourself. It's not that difficult.
        Aerowind
  • They're still bloated and slow.

    What difference does it make if they were at version 10.2E+35? The browser has become so bloated, slow and unresponsive it's like an IE 5 Deja-Vu all again. The only thing that's going to make me go back to firefox is some blazing performance improvements which would make them, say, 1/2 as fast as Chrome or Opera?
    kraterz
    • RE: Mozilla goes version number crazy

      @kraterz Sadly the things you say aren't borne out by objective external reality. Firefox is in no way bloated, slow or unresponsive as demonstrated in Toms Hardware's latest Browser Grand Prix competition. In fact, Firefox received the award for most stability - only Opera and Firefox were able to load a group of 40 tabs without errors or needing to reload pages.

      Also, as much as I love Opera in general, how can you label Firefox as "bloated" when much of its functionality (even arguably required functionality) is to be had only via external plugins, while Opera includes a freaking e-mail program, bittorrent client and web server, among other things? :-)
      jgm@...