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Firefox Developer: ‘Everybody Hates Firefox Updates’

firefox rapid release schedule

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#1 +Frank B.

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:08

Firefox Developer: ‘Everybody Hates Firefox Updates’

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Look, Yet Another Firefox Update. Screenshot: Webmonkey

Mozilla’s Jono DiCarlo has come out to say what many a Firefox user has long been thinking: the rapid release cycle is killing Firefox.


DiCarlo has a long and well-argued post on how and why Firefox’s attempts to ape Google Chrome have not only made the browser less usable, but done the very thing Mozilla was trying to prevent — driving people to switch to Chrome.

The problem, argues DiCarlo, isn’t just the rapid releases, but the way Mozilla has handled them:


Ironically, by doing rapid releases poorly, we just made Firefox look like an inferior version of Chrome. And by pushing a never-ending stream of updates on people who didn’t want them, we drove a lot of those people to Chrome; exactly what we were trying to prevent.


That squares with the user feedback Webmonkey has received over the last year or so of rapid Firefox updates — comment after comment of fed-up users tired of the endless updates and dialog boxes. Less anecdotally, Webmonkey traffic from Firefox has declined from roughly 34 percent to roughly 30 percent since Firefox 4 and the rapid release cycle debuted.

The problem isn’t the updates necessarily — security updates, bug fixes and support for new web standards are all necessary, even welcome, things — it’s the way that Mozilla has handled them, using intrusive dialogs that interrupt work and cause frustration, that sends users to other browsers.

Of course bug fixes, security updates and standards support aren’t the only things Firefox has been packing into the rapid release cycles. DiCarlo also calls out Mozilla’s user interface designers, arguing that using the rapid release cycle to constantly change Firefox’s interface compounds the problem and user frustration.


After years of aspiring to improve software usability, I’ve come to the extremely humbling realization that the single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often! Let it remain stable long enough for us to learn it and get good at it. There’s no UI better than one you already know, and no UI worse than one you thought you knew but now have to relearn.


DiCarlo’s post has understandably provoked some heated discussion, both on his site and in a Hacker News thread (DiCarlo’s site has also been up and down today, the Google cache version is here if the original is not currently working). Mozilla is in the process of addressing some of these problems, and plans to make the update process less intrusive in future release, but for many users the damage has already been done.

Source: Wired Webmonkey
Link: Jono Di Carlo's blog post


#2 Daedroth

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:17

Firefox's biggest problem in the quick release cycle is that it doesn't quickly and silently install the updates like Chrome does. It requires user interaction and takes a while.

#3 deactivated_

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:24

Good article. It describes exactly what drove me to Chrome after being a loyal and faithful Mozilla/Firefox user for years and years. And thing is, now that I've switched to Chrome, I can't see ever switching back either.

#4 Aethec

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:27

Firefox's biggest problem is Mozilla.
Mozilla's evangelists are idiots blinded by open-source faith, their developers are probably good but there are too few of them, their product management is ridiculous (look at what just happened to Thunderbird), the goals they set for themselves make no sense (rapid releases without silent background updates, HTML drafts over security, ..), their developpers cannot communicate with the designers....
Firefox survived despite Mozilla's problems because at the time IE was old and outdated and there was no real competitor. Now that both Microsoft and Google are in the game, they can't compete.
(and I'm writing this using Firefox...)

#5 vetFourjays

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:35

Firefox updates drove me to Chrome before the frequent update release schedule. They were already being too much of a pain for me, but then I hate updaters at the best of times - they have a knack of choosing the most inappropriate moment.

#6 The_Decryptor

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:39

I don't think an update prompt every 6 weeks is as bad as some people make it out to be (How often does Windows want to install updates and restart?), but they are fixing that with Firefox 15 so it doesn't ask for permission, it just updates while running (Like Chrome does)

I do like how Chrome updates (I've installed it on peoples systems for that exact reason), but that's the only redeeming feature Chrome has in my opinion.

#7 hagjohn

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:46

Updates are killing FF. What a laugh. What's next, blaming Microsoft again for their issues? Mozilla never seems to understand the real issue.

#8 bogas04

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:47

Firefox 15 onwards all these problems will be solved , background and silent updates with little to no interaction required. The developer should have tried nightlies :/

#9 revanmj

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:56

Firefox 15 onwards all these problems will be solved , background and silent updates with little to no interaction required. The developer should have tried nightlies :/

Addons and themes compatibility problems too? Because I think that's the bigger issue with frequent updates of Firefox. In Chrome I haven't encountered an extensions that would break after browser update. In Firefox (when I launch it from time to time to see what's changed) I still can see a dialog with list of addons that are incompatible with new version).

#10 mps69

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:00

It must just be me, I don't really see the release cycle, and having updates in your face a problem.
Personally I like interacting with the updates, makes me aware when they are happening.
If they are done in the background, how do you know what's going in, what breaks etc.
The only thing that does get a bit annoying is checking the extensions, thankfully I don't have that many.

#11 jakem1

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:16

Addons and themes compatibility problems too? Because I think that's the bigger issue with frequent updates of Firefox.


Exactly. I don't mind receiving updates but I do mind when those updates break the application and that's a constant problem with Firefox.

#12 Aethec

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:22

Firefox 15 onwards all these problems will be solved , background and silent updates with little to no interaction required. The developer should have tried nightlies :/

Or maybe Mozilla should have created a good update system before starting their rapid release nonsense.
I've got their "maintenance service" installed but on my Win7 it always UAC-prompts me when a new update is available. And I'm on Aurora, which means lots of updates. I can live with it; most people get annoyed.

#13 Dot Matrix

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:27

It wasn't the updates. Updates are good - it was the slowness and general crappiness of the browser that put me back on IE.

#14 bogas04

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:01

Addons and themes compatibility problems too? Because I think that's the bigger issue with frequent updates of Firefox. In Chrome I haven't encountered an extensions that would break after browser update. In Firefox (when I launch it from time to time to see what's changed) I still can see a dialog with list of addons that are incompatible with new version).


all addons are now set to compatible , unless there is some exception.

#15 The_Decryptor

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:09

Addons and themes compatibility problems too? Because I think that's the bigger issue with frequent updates of Firefox. In Chrome I haven't encountered an extensions that would break after browser update. In Firefox (when I launch it from time to time to see what's changed) I still can see a dialog with list of addons that are incompatible with new version).


Since v10 all extensions (And themes) are assumed to be compatible by default. If you're still seeing extensions that don't work now, then odds are they're abandoned, and they're not going to be updated.