FireFox released it’s 5th version recently, and as many of you might know, Mozilla immediately cut all the support for version 4. Keep in mind, version 4 had been released only four months ago. Now, a lot of the tech sites already have been writing about this. There are pro’s and con’s about this. Mozilla made a valuable argument – I guess mostly for themselves – and is hanging on to it.
Also, Mozilla mentions that they want to have a version update about every 3-4 months. And with reading that, they’ve lost me. Not that I do not understand… but because that is a serious statement that no-one can live up to… including Mozilla itself.
Dumping your old version’s support when the new one is released is a way to stay ahead of the curb and focus all your attention to improvement and progress. Which is a noble thing. But progress requires innovation. Innovation requires creativity. And creativity does not come with a 3-4 month cycle. You simply cannot make a statement that you will release a new version every 3-4 months, because before you know it every ‘upgrade’ is nothing more than a patch. If it hasn’t got something seriously new, it is not a real version. Even if they slap a new number to it. And once that happens, the magic of a new version is completely gone.
But it is not only that. Personally I think it is showing a serious lack of respect for your audience. Sure, Mozilla says that they are not supporting companies primarily, so they do not worry about company update policies. but I am talking about the less tech savvy, or people who simply enjoy one version, and not the newer one. Mozilla claims here without those literal words that every next version will be better than the previous one. Because, why else would you cancel support on an older version?
And I am surprised it is Mozilla actually claiming this. Because this is actually the same company who had a superior older browser – NetScape Gold – while it’s successor was not able to get the popularity. You can say whatever you want about Microsoft, but at least they stayed pretty loyal in support to the browser that people kept using; IE6. True, it might have become a very outdated browser and a huge security threat; but if people keep using it, should you abandon it?
I have the idea that this new direction Mozilla is taking will be changing pretty soon again. It is in nobody’s best interest to hurry through development. There is no rush in trying to push out new version numbers as soon as possible. Check Google Chrome. At the time of writing, they are at version 12. Did you know that? I actually had to check it in the ‘About Google Chrome’ box to notice. They all look the same, the version number does not seem to matter anymore. And how is version 12 of Chrome different from a series of patches on FireFox or IE?