Ex-Mozilla staffer Jono DiCarlo has posted a lengthy blog post that essentially slams Firefox's rapid release cycle, claiming not only that "everybody hates Firefox updates" but also that rapid releases have "ruined" Firefox and "killed [its] reputation". DiCarlo claims the main problems with the Firefox rapid release cycle are the number of dialog boxes and prompts that appear when an update is required, and that updates keep breaking extensions.
DiCarlo has been asking people about the release cycle and he says "not one person has had anything good to say about the rapid release process." He goes on to say that Mozilla has handled the rapid release process poorly, and that by pushing a "never-ending stream of updates on people who didn't want them" people have been driven to Chrome with its simpler, no-fuss update process.
Credit where it's due: the way Google handled Chrome updates was very, very smart. They recognized that updates are one of the hardest things to get right, so they solved that problem first, before releasing version 1. The first release of Chrome was little more than an empty box of a browser, but it was wrapped around an excellent updating system. This let them gradually transform that empty box into a full-featured browser, without the users ever realizing they were getting updates.
The importance of updates bringing security updates, bug fixes and critical features is acknowledged by DiCarlo, but he laments the use of frequent updates to change the interface for no reason. By changing the interface every update, "your productivity will be lower than usual until you've spent a bunch of time learning a new interface"; time better spent on other things.
Mozilla is working to address some of these issues - Firefox 15 will bring background, dialog-box-free updates like Chrome - but according to DiCarlo the damage has already been done: "People who got fed up and ditched Firefox are going to be hard to win back."
The post has created quite a stir across the internet as people who originally slammed the rapid release cycle now have another platform to argue their case. What do Neowin readers think? Is the rapid release cycle bad for Firefox?
Update: Mozilla reached out to us and wished to respond to the statements made by the former Firefox developer. We have included their statement below.
Jono's analysis is interesting, but outdated. Regular Firefox updates are good news for users and for the Web but only when they don't interrupt what you're doing. Today's Firefox updates are applied in the background with no interruptions; they even keep your Firefox Add-ons compatible between releases. The result is that our users always have a fast, beautiful and secure browsing experience. Regular releases also let us get new features to our users faster than ever before, and we can listen to their feedback to improve things, just as we did with updates in 2011.