Mozilla considers slower release cycle for Firefox

Mozilla has proposed another system for releasing versions of the Firefox browser. Under the cycle, identified as the 'Extended Support Release', the cycle for unveiling new versions of the browser would become more suited to corporate environments. At present, new versions of Firefox (standard builds) are released every six weeks, and now they are suggesting change again, as CNET reports.

In June, the company experienced backlash from different businesses due to the nature of the release cycle. The company responded by working on a compromise, through a group known as the 'Enterprise Working Group'. The result of the group's work has been this proposal. With ESR, Mozilla wants to capture the developing markets of both home users and slower-moving users. In a corporate environment, software is generally tested before being pushed to all workstations on the network, and therefore, the current system used for Firefox presents issues. It has to be constantly tested for updates, and therefore, Mozilla does not want to lose the business sector of the market.

Mozilla are aware that they cannot afford to release builds too slowly, but they can also no longer release them at an extreme pace without some form of compromise. If they move too slowly, Google is in a prime position to push Chrome as an alternative. If they move too slowly, users could easily be swayed back to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, with the promise that the browser is becoming more modernized.

And yet, despite the backlash from businesses, some minds at Mozilla have suggested the possibility of an even faster release cycle. It seems likely that the browser updates will become 'silent', much like Google Chrome. The idea behind an even faster, silent cycle stems from the anger and confusion over version numbers. With a silent cycle, developers could immediately add new functionality instead of delaying it until the release date, which could be anywhere up to six weeks after.

On September 21st, Mozilla's Kev Needham made an official post about the changes, as well as the ESR. An excerpt of his post, justifying the reasoning for another cycle is below, while the post can be read in its entirety here.

Since moving to a faster release process, Mozilla understands that some organizations are facing challenges in deploying Mozilla products in a managed environment.

Mozilla has already attracted some heat for changing the manner in which it deploys updates, though this controversy seems to have grown less frequently discussed as more users grow accustomed to the new releases.

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