Mozilla has announced that it will begin shipping Firefox releases every four weeks in the new year. To prepare for the new release schedule, the firm is slowly closing in the gap over the next few releases, bringing the cycle down from seven weeks to six weeks, then five weeks, and finally to four weeks. The process will be fully shifted a four-week cycle with the release of Firefox 74 which is due on March 10, 2020.
According to the firm, the Extended Support Release (ESR) schedule will not change, and it expects to release a new major ESR release every 12 months with a 3-month support overlap allowing for upgrades across businesses. The next major ESR releases are slated for June 2020 and June 2021.
Discussing the new release cycle, Ritu Kothari and Yan Or from Mozilla, said:
“Shorter release cycles provide greater flexibility to support product planning and priority changes due to business or market requirements. With four-week cycles, we can be more agile and ship features faster, while applying the same rigor and due diligence needed for a high-quality and stable release. Also, we put new features and implementation of new Web APIs into the hands of developers more quickly.”
With some new features, Mozilla says it will continue to do A/B testing. This will allow the company to test products among a wider audience before finally issuing them to all users. These experiments are not currently tied to release cycles nor will they be when Mozilla’s new schedule comes into force next year.
With the change, users will get new features two weeks sooner than they would have normally. It’s unlikely that stability will suffer in any way thanks to A/B testing and the phased release strategy where each new release is tested by those running Firefox Nightly, Beta, and Developer Edition. The change will mean that other projects that depend on Firefox such as Tor Browser and Tails OS, will have to slightly alter their schedules too.