Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users - UPDATE

Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users - UPDATE

Summary: If a user needs the full version information, Mozilla reasons, they can get it from about:support.

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TOPICS: Browser
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[UPDATE: This message in from Asa Dotzler, Firefox Product Manager:

"There's been some discussion around removing version numbers from the Firefox "About" window. Our goal is to avoid confusion and make sure users always have the most current version of Firefox. While that's the long term goal, this change isn't happening overnight. Right now, the version number is still available in the "About" window and users will always be able to find it in the Help>Troubleshooting menu."

Does this make you feel any better?]

Mozilla has just officially released Firefox 6, but the organization is planning to phase out version numbers from its browser - at least any version number that's easily visible to the average user.

Asa Dotzler, community coordinator for Firefox marketing projects, got things under way by posting Bug 678775 over on Bugzilla.

When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window should say something like "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release."

It is important to say when the last check happened and ideally to do the check when the dialog is launched so that time is very near and to drop the version and simply tell them they're on the latest or not.

If a user needs the full version information they can get it from about:support.

This has, as you would expect, sparked some fiery discussion.

Dave Garrett:

Hyperbole aside, the about dialog is essentially a box designed for the sole purpose of housing the application developer and version. I am sorry to break it to you, though, even if having the version in the about dialog is a UX problem in any way, virtually all other applications out there beg to differ. Even my mother knows this is where you look up what version of a program you're using. You're going up against established UX that spans much time and across OSes.

Jordan Osete:

As an early adopter (using Aurora, and before that I used beta versions), I don't understand what would be the interest of removing the version number from the about page ?

This is oversimplification. Users understand version numbers, so why remove them ? If there is a problem with version numbers, then the format can be changed (either to a date "2011.08.15.aurora" for example, or whatever), but removing the information adds nothing.

Asa: also the attitude "I don't want to discuss this here, go to the newsgroup where no one will see your arguments" is clearly not very, hm, "democratic". On every feature request or bug fix request on bugzilla, people comment to give their opinion on the matter. A single person does not have the right to decide for the community. Thanks.

Steve Brecht:

I strongly disagree with removal of the version number in the about box as well. I can't see any rational for this being an improvement to the UI. It only buries critical information deeper for the users who wish to see it, while really having no net positive impact for anyone. One negative plus a neutral = a net negative. Change for change's sake is never good.

Famous:

There appears to be nothing constructive in moving the version numbers away from the about dialog into the help/troubleshooting section, additionally it would distract from developers attempting to help debug their own addons.

aydreeuhn:

How is this a bug?

It seems that most people feel that this move would be detrimental to the end user and most question Mozilla's reasoning for suggesting this in the first place.

Personally, I think that it is a daft move, and that Mozilla has steered itself into a version number race and now wants to make version numbers effectively obsolete.

[poll id="670"]

Topic: Browser

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57 comments
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  • Is there a hidden agenda? Maybe

    Someone in Mozilla PR needs to clarify.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      I think they just need to make the update process more transparent to end users. This is how it is with Chrome. They are up to version 13.xx and I do not remember ever updating it. It just happens in the background.
      sharkboyjohn
    • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      For some reason Mozilla is feeling version challenged by Chrome. They should just get over it and work to make FF faster and more stable so that fewer suckers get taken in by Chrome spyware. Version numbers will not gain or lose them market share.
      jorjitop
  • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

    Great.

    My team and I just got done doing some client sites recoding to deal with "deprecated" syntax between FF4 and FF5. We're currently bracing for FF6. NOW we won't even be able to tell WHICH version of FF isn't working properly with compliant code?

    Fabulous.
    frizzllefry
    • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

      @frizzllefry Yup, I can see how that would be a major problem.
      statuskwo5
      • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

        @statuskwo5 I can't. You shouldn't be coding to a browser, you should coding to standards.
        jgm@...
      • Message has been deleted.

        frizzllefry
      • Message has been deleted.

        Michael Alan Goff
    • The version numbers are becomming meaningless anyway.

      @frizzllefry The jump from 3.6.x to 4.0 was significant. But 5.0 really should have been 4.1 and 6.0 really should be 4.2. This need to have ever increasing major version numbers basically makes the version number meaningless. It makes what is really a relatively minor update look like something big when its really not.<br><br>The issue now is that you don't have any way to tell from the numbering weather is a major or minor update.

      If they would stop the version number bloat madness and make the numbers actually tell you something about how big a change it really is, then I would say display them. As it is, few will know the difference between 4.0 and 6.0 and moreover it will not really matter.
      cornpie
      • I agree completely

        @cornpie I agree. All these version have just been minor updates. they're trying to catch up to IE and Google chrome with is just a waste of time. FF is good enough now they're ruining it by playing this game.
        Cellus
  • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

    What's the difference? It's not like they aren't going to stop releasing a new "version" every 6 weeks.
    statuskwo5
  • Developers

    That's the problem with developers, they just do not understand or are interested in the needs of their customers. A common refrain from developers is "this is better" or "just deal with it". This is an especially pernicious issue with open source projects that are designed to only meet the needs of a small, esoteric group of users and no formal QA or UX benchmarking.
    Your Non Advocate
    • This is not the idea coming from developers

      @facebook@...
      It comes from some business people, possibly marketing guys.

      As a developer myself, I REALLY, REALLY cares the version of my applications.
      ZenithY
    • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

      This is how what started out as being excellent software, gets hijacked by ego-centric developers who ignore the needs/preferences of their users/customers. Then, they wonder why users go elsewhere.
      TsarNikky
      • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

        It's not developers. It's useless marketing types and bean counters. Get a clue.
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

        @TsarNikky There's definitely an ego issue with FF devs. When users file bug reports, the devs constantly accuse them of complaining instead of addressing the issue. Sometimes they go as far as saying the release in question works on that dev's computer so their couldn't possibly be anything wrong with it, despite the fact that the dev's software and hardware configuration may differ from that of the end user.
        lehjr
  • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

    Is Mozilla intentionally trying to sabotage Firefox?


    I'm starting to wonder what those guys are doing over there. Maybe all that cake is starting to go to their heads?
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

      @Cylon Centurion <br><br>I'm starting to think Asa is a plant from one of the companies who make a competing browser.<br><br>First the support statement about previous releases and the breath taking arrogance he displayed while doing so and now this. Reading some of the later replies it appears that as he got such a negative response over his first set of version comments hes now trying to intentionally marginalize version numbers and maybe even work against enabling an enterprise friendly firefox
      the.nameless.drifter
  • Message has been deleted.

    Brooks Fancher
  • RE: Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users

    Oh Lord, the whining doesn't stop. This is a move designed to deal specifically with ZDNET POSTERS who raise heck over the fact that they're incrementing a whole version number between releases. The "agenda", which I thought would have been obvious, is that if people stop seeing the version number, they stop whining and complaining.

    Not showing the version number in the "about" dialog isn't "sabotaging Firefox". There is no "need of the customers" to see the version number in the "about" box rather than typing "about:support". It's just to settle down the nerd brigade who complain when Firefox doesn't release version 4 for 780 years then complain when Firefox switches to an agile development cycle to meet that complaint then complain that Firefox isn't making any significant changes between versions and then complain that at the same time there are too many significant changes between versions because it's breaking everything. :-(

    As someone who has the displeasure of sharing a house with someone with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (think anal retentive x 1000, say coming into your room with a juice container to show you how two days ago you didn't put the lid on exactly perfectly or to complain that you "breathe too loudly"), I have infinite sympathy for the folks at Mozilla. The amount of meaningless complaining (sadly being encouraged by blog posts like this) is just ridiculous.
    jgm@...