Mozilla wants to hide Firefox version numbers from users - UPDATE

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

[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.


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.


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"]