The rapid-release cycle Firefox is now on is pathetic. Please Mozilla, kill it now and put things back to the way they were.
Mozilla has released Firefox 6.0 today, just a month and a half after it released Firefox 5.0, which arrived barely three months after Firefox 4.0 dropped. This is all due to Mozilla switching to a rapid release development cycle which will see a new version of Firefox released every six weeks or so.
Ramping up the versions this quickly is utterly pointless. Firefox 6.0 contains very few new features, and none which the majority of users will notice. Instead, the 1,300 changes in the new release are mostly bug fixes which could have been quietly released without the fanfare of a whole new release with a flashing neon 6.0 trumpeting its arrival. This would be like Microsoft renaming Windows every time it released a bunch of patches. And we’d be using Windows 1,683 instead of Windows 7.
The decision to make the switch was taken in order to keep up with Google Chrome, which is already up to Version 15 despite being just a couple of years old. But Firefox has always been a leader, an adventurer, a product setting the tone rather than following a trend. And copying Mozilla seems both pointless and a little sad.
The problem is that Google Chrome has unseated Firefox as the newcomer that everyone wants to see do well. In the same way that Apple is now essentially Microsoft in all but name, Firefox is Internet Explorer; set in its ways and willing to conform rather than confront. Chrome has built a healthy market share, and Mozilla is panicking.
I’m still an avid Firefox user and intend to carry on being so for the time being. But if innovation is abandoned and replaced with imitation I may have to reconsider. And join the throng of people making the switch to Chrome. Or, God forbid, revert back to using Internet Explorer. Still, at least I’m not dumb enough to still use IE6.