Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

Summary: Mozilla will be releasing an Extended Support Release version of its Firefox Web browser for its business and government users.

TOPICS: Browser, Google

Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again.

Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again.

Mozilla, the group behind the Firefox Web browser, has finally gotten a clue that business users don't like constant updates. On the Mozilla wiki page, Mozilla admits to what many of us have known for a long time: Firefox's recent rapid-fire release schedule was way too fast for corporate and institutional users. On the page, Mozilla states:

The shift to a new release process has been difficult for organizations that deploy Firefox to their users in a managed environment. We've heard 2 primary concerns:

1. The release schedule doesn't allow sufficient time for the organizations and their vendors to certify new releases of the products.

2. The associated end-of-life policy exposes them to considerable security risk if they remain on a non-current version past Firefox 3.6.

These groups-which include small & medium business, enterprise, academic, and government-want to continue to offer Mozilla products to their users, but they need a version of Firefox that gives them a longer support tail than what we currently offer.

You think!?

I don't know why Mozilla's team ever thought it could ever do this in the first place. Google only manages to pull it off with Chrome because they have a giant team constantly working on not just improving Chrome but simultaneously keeping it stable. Even with Chrome, though, it's s a problem. The bottom line is institutional users and system administrators' value stability far, far above getting new features or a few milliseconds faster JavaScript performance.

In addition to not meeting these business needs, Mozilla hasn't been able to maintain Firefox's quality. While Firefox 9.01 is an excellent browser, the very first version of the 9.x release constantly crashed and had to be immediately replaced. This isn't what anyone wants from a Web browser.

Firefox 9.01 gallery

So, Mozilla proposes that the:

Extended Support Release (ESR) based on an official release of Desktop Firefox. Releases will be initially maintained for nine release cycles (currently 54 weeks, which is close to the target of 52 weeks the proposal is attempting to hit), with point releases coinciding with regular Firefox releases.

To permit organizations sufficient time for testing and certification, the ESR will have a two cycle (12 week) overlap between the time of a new release and the end-of-life of the previous release. This will allow organizations who control updates (e.g. have disabled automated updates) to Firefox to qualify and test against Aurora and Beta builds for twelve weeks leading up to the ESR, and an additional 12 weeks to certify and transition to a new ESR. Organizations that rely on Firefox's built-in updater may be limited to a transition period of 6 weeks, dependent upon how the ESR releases are maintained.

Mozilla is talking about this like it's still a proposal, but their plans read like it's already on track and they'll be putting it into effect almost immediately. The first ESR version will be Firefox 10, which is due to be released on January 31st.

The ESR versions of Firefox "will use the same version number as the version of Firefox it is based upon (e.g. if the ESR is based off of Firefox 10, the ESR version will also be 10)." Mozilla will backport critical and high security fixes. These fixes will be issued as "point releases." For example, the first security fix of Firefox ESR would be 10.0.1, the next, 10.0.2, and so on.

At the same time, Mozilla announced in passing that they will soon stop maintaining the old Firefox 3.x line. Mozilla is also planning on providing an ESR version of its e-mail client, Thunderbird.

Will it work? I was very encouraged by Firefox 9.01's quality and it certainly doesn't hurt that Mozilla's new Google contract will provide Mozilla with plenty of funds to improve Firefox. Still, Chrome now has more users than Firefox and Chrome's quality has been outstanding. Still, this is a step in the right direction. Had Mozilla continued to flood business users with not ready for prime time releases, I know Firefox would have continued its decline.

Now, I think Firefox has a chance to become the number two browser again. Or, who knows, maybe it will be Chrome, Firefox and then Internet Explorer. Hey! It could happen!

Related Stories:

Mozilla readies to pull support plug on Firefox 3.6

Can Firefox be a Web browser contender again? Firefox 9.01 Review

Chrome keeps winning; Internet Explorer keeps falling

Firefox hits the jackpot with almost billion dollar Google deal

Mozilla to enterprise customers: "Drop dead"

Topics: Browser, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

    it's taken Mozilla a year to snatch back the reigns from some lefty pinko freetard who actively discouraged its business users from sticking with the product, including me, having shifted my clients to Chrome, whose silently updated internal Flash pluggin simultaneously closes the window on that Adobe products continual deluge of security chasms, too. Sorry Mozilla, but you're too late, your naive arrogance awoke me to your competitors superiority, and I'm not going back any time soon.
    • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

      I've often wondered why those on the radical far right throw out gratuitous comments like "lefty pinko freetard" so freely. Now I better understand. Your anonymous posting name also describes the way you think, or don't bother to think at all.
    • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

      @junkmail@... <br>"lefty pinko freetard" ? Wow you do have some issues, or at a minimum a very limited vocabulary/way of expressing yourself.
  • Mozilla, get back to long accepted release conventions

    Not just for your business clientele's sake, but for the benefit of your entire user base. And really, it's for your own long-term well being. When we hit FF 37.0.3x, no one will likely be paying attention any longer, let alone know where they're at or what they're running (short of auto updates, your last remaining clutch of hope).
  • Hello

    I think there are many browsers in the market and i love the way mozilla attachs to their community. I think some web from chrome helps developers but mozilla has excellent values in their community.
  • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

    You know Google pushes Chrome out security bug fixes too right? Just checking.
  • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

    We stopped deploying Firefox. Why waste time and employee resources on trying to get new revs of plug-ins/add-ons that FF foolishly disables due to version changes. Perhaps they will get an adult to run Mozilla...
  • Maybe they could try to fix the FF memory leak??!!

    If anything can bring your PC to its knees, it's the Firefox memory leak. They should be paying attention to critical fundamentals instead of trying to be latest/greatest. Make Firefox work, OK Mozilla?
  • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

    Having an update and a rollback process might greatly ease the minds of Corporations. If Firefox could snapshot it's setup, including Plugins and settings, before the upgrade then allow the upgrade to take place. That way if a significant problem was detected Corporations (or optionally users with some sort of centralized control mechanism) would then be able to revert back to previous version and environment to resolve issues until Firefox and or 3rd party plugin manufacturers could resolve the upgrade issues. A parallel install method might also be a solutions as long as it was fairly easily manageable and again allowed for carry over of plugins, some sort of cleanup of old versions, and management.
    Companies do not WANT to stay on old versions, but reduced staffing and the need for reliability will trump a vendors need to quite supporting older versions (perfect example was IE6).
    • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again


      There is a plugin called FEBE that backs up your entire install. I have used it to move FF installations in the past, although I haven't checked to see if it os still available now.
  • So will Firefox end up being IE 6?

    So does it make sense to have a log term supported browser version. I thought that was what IE 6 ended up being for Enterprise and it stiffled Microsoft. I just think Enterprise needs to be more inclined to keep up rather then the browser world trying to keep them happy.
    • RE: Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again


      Enterprise didn't stifle Microsoft, not bothering to take IE further until firefox got traction is what stifled MS.

      What enterprises want is guarantees that tools they use won't just drop out of support every 6 weeks, which is what this does. In enterprise every major release requires retesting of every internal application, not because you want it to break or expect it to, but because if a major upgrade breaks for example the sales department you are getting fired so you rigorously test. Enterprises will be fine with 1 year upgrade cycles because they can retest and deploy in a sensible timescale.

      Its a good move by Mozilla and I hope this will smooth over the fractures in a relationship which was caused by supreme arrogance on the part of one Mozilla employee.

    I am not a business user, but I have dropped Fire Fox and will never go back. I got tired reinstalling add-ons and putting up with broken links every six weeks. its god-bye and good riddance Mozilla.
  • Firefox wants to be your business buddy Web browser again

    I'm just me, no techie whiz kid. Maybe one notch above Joe SixPack. I know I am disgusted with FF wanting to upgrade seems like every two weeks. Fortunately Windows does something right for a change. It intercepts the attempted automatic upgrade and waits for permission which it does not get. Last time, the upgrade didn't work right on something I use all the time and I could get no help. They wouldn't even tell me how to go back to the previous version, which should be offered.

    I still prefer FF, but I don't allow it to auto upgrade. I hope they get their shtuff together and calm down. I just want a browser that works and works consistently.
    Hans Schmidt
  • Err on the point "Chrome???s quality has been outstanding"

    we have found (300+ desktops) over the last few release's Chrome memory usage has blown out again and in fact Firefox has been better, this to and fro will always be so.

    The real problem is the problem of updating third party apps on Windows a problem that has gone on since the "creation" of the earth 6000 years ago ;}

  • Stop rapid new versions

    I use Firefox and ZoneAlarm's Extreme Security. This has a feature called "Forcefield" which, in essense, virtualizes the browser, so that any internet nasties do not make it to my PC. I believe it is like IE's "sandboxing".
    The rapid rate of new FF versions make it impossible for ZoneAlarm to keep up.
    I personally will be relieved to keep using a version of FF that does not constantly change!
    I am Gorby