Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

Summary: Mozilla will attempt, according to a draft roadmap, to bring out Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 by the end of this year. Is Mozilla really aiming to bring out four major browser versions or is it just 'fudging the numbers' to maintain competition?

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TOPICS: Browser
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A draft proposal for the Firefox roadmap shows that at least four versions of Firefox, one of the worlds most used browsers, will be released this year.

Firefox 4 will of course bring an entirely new user interface while catching up with rival browsers. Firefox 5 will include 64-bit support on Windows and improve the account manager. Firefox 6 will optimise JavaScript and support future versions of Mac OS X, improve HTML5 and CSS3 rendering, and Firefox 7 will break down operations into separate processes. The full roadmap can be found here.

But will Mozilla really bring out four new major versions of Firefox, or is it just fudging the numbers?

There is an argument that Mozilla are splitting down the development process either into traditional, much faster milestones, progressing from Firefox 4 to Firefox 7. Considering the previous versions, it has taken nearly 3 years to get from Firefox 3 to 4, though it took Microsoft nearly half a decade to get from Windows XP to Windows Vista.

These things take time, and most consumers are adjusted to a particular kind of lifecycle: major milestones are given different names and numbers, and minor revisions are split into numbered subdivisions.

Or, Mozilla is taking an entirely different approach and getting rid of the number subdivision like Firefox 3.1 to 3.2 and going with a 'major milestone' number each time instead. If so, consistency could be a problem to the end user, and seemingly upgrading to a brand new browser every quarter could be confusing and unsettling.

The fact of the matter is that people don't like change. Younger users in particular, tempted by newer, cleaner browsers like Chrome, might be persuaded to make that leap if they feel too much is changing too quickly.

Granted, some people enjoy a new operating system or a new version of a product to see the brand new shiny features and user interface. It can be clean, fresh and exciting. But then others complain on mass when a social network changes a layout or implements a new feature. There is seemingly no correlation and no way to determine what will work and what will not.

If Mozilla can get the balance right and not alienate the end user, then it can probably maintain what marketshare it has in the browsing arena.

Topic: Browser

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13 comments
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  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    Version numbers are irrelevant. It's the functionality that counts!
    guitarswinger
  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    The numbers really don't mean a thing. For example, look at Google Chrome. It started only a few years ago and is already at version 8. While IE has been around since the 90s and is just about to hit version 9. It's a number used by the company.
    Darkninja962
  • Mozilla's roadmap for Firefox ...

    ... is more fictional than Harry Potter lately.

    There's also a lot of worrying stuff mentoned in that roadmap ... binary support for add-ons and "intermittent oranges" (whatever than means) being two ...
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    Who cares? Pretty soon we will have Chrome 99 and Firefox will follow that route.
    illegaloperation
  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    "Though it took Microsoft nearly half a decade"

    So you mean 4 years for a complete OS upgrade versus 3 years for another reinvented wheel browser to move from verion 3 to 4.

    Don't get your point...
    tonymcs1
  • High version number can fool novice users

    I believe that there is somewhat a "beneficial" effects of a high version number. A lot of novice users who don't know well about the history of browser, they just assume that high number means better.

    It's like model number in most electronic products. Model ABC-7500 is probably better than ABC-650.
    RelaxWalk
  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    It's clear from the referenced road-map blog that Mozilla wants to release things more frequently in smaller feature chunks (FF 4 seems to be taking forever). I applaud that goal; although diving beneath a lot of the open source religious statements, it's clear that this will be a big challenge -- given the current Mozilla development ecosystem.

    That said, there are some priorities that have little appeal for me ("shining" the UI, Mac OS support, HTML5/CSS); others (50 ms response to user interaction, new process/tab) are extremely important to me. I routinely run FF for months at a time with hundreds of tabs open. Usually some tab (or tabs) behave badly and peg the cpu -- there is no easy way to find the bad page. Also lately FF seems as sluggish as IE. I would also like some thought given to helping users manage hundreds of open tabs: either with a different UI for tab display, ability to search for an open tab, ways to group open tabs, or an addition to the history window that give one a view/search/manage capability for open tabs, etc
    eboyhan
  • Its a good move and fits with Agile programming

    Mozilla can do it, no question.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • If your major releases come that fast...

    ...then they're not major releases. Version number inflation has been a problem for a long time and is only getting worse.
    John L. Ries
  • Others complain "on mass"? Perhaps you meant "en masse"

    because changes to social networks aren't measured with "mass", and those changes wouldn't have any "mass" to measure.
    adornoe
  • Why worry about version numbers? Just attach a date to a name, and, voila!,

    the newest and greatest can easily be identified.<br><br>So, Chrome110210 could be used to signify the version of Chrome that came out on 02/10/2011. Now, if a newer version is out there, it should be displayed somewhere on the browser so that the user would be informed that his browser is not the latest version, and could take action to upgrade/update.
    adornoe
  • RE: Firefox 4 and 7 to be released before 2011: Too much, too soon?

    I don't like the numbers game. Over 20 years ago I learned what they were supposed to mean and it seems as if companies do as they want when numbering their software. It may seem a bit dumb but it's bad enough where I'd like to see some regulation. I wish the companies could be responsible but they are not!
    SteelTrepid
    • It's okay to complain, but regulations is a very dumb idea.

      Keep the regulators out of our lives as much as possible.
      adornoe