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Last week, Mozilla released Firefox 5--just three months after launching Firefox 4. While the company had previously indicated it was moving to a faster release schedule and a whole-number versioning system, the launch caught many users, particularly corporations, off guard. Mozilla claimed that a rapid release schedule would allow it to deliver "new features, performance enhancements, security updates and stability improvements to users faster."

In the eight days since FF5 debuted, some 55 percent of FF4 users auto-updated to the new edition. Web tracking data indicates that the number of Firefox 4 users dropped from 16 percent to 7.2 percent, while Firefox 5's market share increased from 0.5 percent to 10 percent. This implies that the FF5 release prompted users who were previously using an older edition of the browser (3.6 or earlier) to jump to the new version.

When it launched FF4, Mozilla shifted its default update procedure. Previously, the browser only applied security updates automatically--users were prompted when new browser versions were available, but the new flavors weren't automatically installed. Now, users who don't want to update must manually opt out. Since Mozilla no longer issues security fixes for anything but the last version of the browser, it explicitly recommends against disabling these updates.

Firefox's 5 uptake is much higher than what Mozilla has seen previously, but lags Google Chrome. Chrome's update process, however, is completely silent--users are not notified when a browser update is installed and the company has stopped externally referring to the browser's version. That data is still available, but it's buried underneath "Tools / Task Manager / Stats For Nerds."

Corporate Complaints Spark Moderating Missive:

A few days after FF5 went live last week, multiple corporate IT administrators began asking how they were supposed to validate a product with such a short lifespan. One post by John Walicki, an IT administrator with 500,000 corporate Firefox users, sums up corporate concerns quite well. He wrote: "I’m now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x. By the time I validate Firefox 5, what guarantee would I have that Firefox 5 won’t go EOL when Firefox 6 is released?"

Mozilla executive Asa Dotzler responded to such concerns with the following:
Your “big numbers” here are really just a drop in the bucket, fractions of fractions of a percent of our user base. Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them, I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about.

Dotzler's statement and his complete dismissal of corporate users fueled criticism from MS and Google, both of whom hastened to assure the world+dog that they just love their business customers. Mozilla's Jay Sullivan (VP of products) posted a response to the furor today, in which he hastened to assure enterprise customers that Mozilla loves them, too.
The Mozilla Community has focused our efforts on the needs of the individual user, and prioritized the product roadmap and features accordingly. However, as is the case with many technologies, loyal Firefox users and their IT departments have sought to bring Firefox into their places of work.

A key challenge for enterprises is that they need to certify their websites, apps and add-ons each time Firefox is updated. This can take weeks or months. Security is also paramount, enterprises need access to a version that includes all known security fixes.

We are exploring solutions that balance these needs, with active discussion in our community.  Open Source software is well-suited to these challenges, as interested parties can come together to build what is needed.
Sullivan's post seems more a token olive branch than a sign of any policy changes--and it's not clear changes are needed. Mozilla's rapid release (and mandatory upgrade) system is nothing more than a marketing move. Freezing a primary version number doesn't actually change the validation process. Users tend to link version increases and major feature changes, but corporate policies need to gaze a bit deeper.

What i don't understand, is up until a few weeks ago, it was still in the Alpha stages. I have not updated to FF5, and will not, until it can be proven to be a seamless, pretty much bug free environment. I use FF because i can not stand IE, and i've tried both Chrome and Opera, and don't like them either.

FF is my explorer of choice, but i won't update to FF5 until later.


Wow that is quite an attitude for FF to have about corporate customers. I did find it odd that it automatically updated to FF5 since it was a full version higher.


Didn't like 4 and doubt i'll like 5 much. I mean, I was all about FireFox back around version 1.x but since then I found it progressively getting slower and more buggy. Perhaps they've turned it around but Chrome just works flawlessly for me.

  •  Drago
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FF5 has been out for over a week and half the apps i use at work dont work in it so im stuck having to use IE9 for most of my remote sessions. Really stupid of Mozilla to dis the enterprise and corporate community. It will cost them dearly, and rightfully so they need to pay. Maybe that will get them off their high horse and get back to reality and release a decent browser. I have been disappointed in every FF since 1.5.


HAHA that picture made me giggle :P

I updated to FF5 a few days ago. Nothing wrong on my end as of yet. But i only use it for basic surfing so i wouldn't know of any intense bugs. I really wish they would make or update the tabs app cause it is real handy.

  •  AKwyn
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This makes me weary, It may make sense in Mozilla's mind but it doesn't make sense in our minds.

I mean why not just do security updates rather then small incremental updates? I mean if Microsoft, Google and/or Apple released browsers every 3 months then we would be at version 20 for each browser.

Mike Coyne

I did noticed that FireFox 5 came out early than expect. FireFox should hold off with version 4 for while until FF5 need be in beta testing or check for bugs. I am stick with FF 3.6.18 on my pc.


I have used been using firefox since it came out. When ff4 debuted I hated it, there was so many bugs that I longed for the update before it came. Now that firefox 5 is here I can tell right away the differences with the plugins, flash, java, and memory management. If anything I think they pushed ff5 because of the slack they were getting from ff4.

Joel H

Based on comments, there's still a lot of confusion out there.

Version numbers are arbitrary. Completely arbitrary. Windows NT 4.0 launched in 1996. Windows 2000 was officially based on the NT 5.0.2195 kernel. Windows XP used the NT 5.1 kernel. Windows Vista used the NT 6.0 kernel, Windows 7 uses the NT 6.1.76 kernel. Microsoft could've called Windows XP NT 6, Vista could've been NT7, Win 7 could've used kernel NT 8. The version number and the actual OS have nothing to do with each other.

People who say they're going to wait awhile before upgrading to FF5 are evidently confused about how the new version system works. Three months from now, Mozilla will release FF6. FF5 will be EOL'd at that point.

Under the old system, FF6 will be analogous to FF4.2.


Very nice until now I was generally using a chrome beta, but after reading this on FF5 last night I did a Xmark and the full uninstall of FF4, and proceeded to install FF5. I really like it a lot. Before with FF4 I had generally used it to check email because the FF auto multi account checker is better. Now I can resume using FF5 as my main browser I really like it, it is as fast as Chrome, I have all my add on's installed and set for various pages etc. Nice job Mozilla!


All these people sticking with FF3.6 or bashing because of FF5 really need to actually try 5. It is everything FF4 should have been, patched up, with Chrome like speed.

Also I want to laugh at Google since their update schedule is just as bad for corps as the new FF one is.


InfinityzeN1 wrote:

All these people sticking with FF3.6 or bashing because of FF5 really need to actually try 5. It is everything FF4 should have been, patched up, with Chrome like speed.

installed FF5 from source tarball earlier this week on a Linux boot Debian Sid and compared it with the previouse FF4 intall

popped around here in HH posted a trk in the Chiling vid thread load a bunch of flash > surf FB etc. monitored with htop to compare & all is good !

A definitively user noticeable speed imporvement  between the too versions[FF4-FF5]

both Chrome 12 & FF5 are big on mem with flash and yep gotta agree with you InifityzeN1  FF5 has the snap of Chrome !



The only reason I use FF over the other browsers (except IE, only a moron would use that) is because of the add-ons. The constant releasing of browsers creates add-on compatibility issues. I really hate to stop using my add-ons, and use a different browser, but I also don't wanna use an out-of-date web browser.

These fast releases are bad, for corporate and advanced users. The only thing this benefits is home users. And a lot of them just use IE anyhow, because it comes with their computers and they don't know any better.

  •  AKwyn
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smashed926 wrote:

(except IE, only a moron would use that)

You know, Internet Explorer's not the disaster it was. I have to say that 9 way pretty good; 8, 7 and 6, not so much...

Anyway, despite the fact that both Firefox and IE9 fail to pass the ACID 3 test fully; they're still good browsers. I don't use Firefox much for the plugins as much as I used to do, I do use it because it's 64-bit, it allows me to customize it and it's the one that I'm most comfortable with. (Yeah, I'm not a big fan of IE9's interface, that's my only flaw.)

Google Chrome however will remain the only browser to pass 100% of ACID 3 due to Microsoft's and Mozilla's reluctance to make their browsers fully pass the ACID 3 test.