Last week, Mozilla programmers and executives were jubilant when the release of Firefox 5 marked the successful transition to a more competitive rapid-release development cycle.
Now, with a backlash from corporations and others who aren't equipped to handle that pace of change, things aren't quite so sunny. The organization and its community of supporters have begun some soul-searching about how to reconcile the conflicting priorities--developing software quickly but not leaving users behind.
Mozilla has concluded that Firefox isn't for corporations whose Web use doesn't move at the speed of today's Web, though. That decision frees Mozilla from catering to that audience, but it also means that audience is more likely to choose a rival browser--Microsoft's Internet Explorer being the most obvious candidate.
A fantastic article by C|NET on just what the mission statement of Mozilla's Firefox really is.
In short, Mozilla has no interest in saddling their development in accordance with the enterprise environment much like IE has. Microsoft's Internet Explorer, in some cases, won't go End-Of-Life until 2020. Mozilla has moved their Firefox browser in more of a Chrome-like updating cycle which will include 4 major releases per year. I use Chrome as my daily drive at work and at home and that thing updates all the time. I'd say at least once a week. When you shut the browser down, it updates itself in the background. In fact, I don't even know what version numbers I'm using at any given time. I think that's what Google would prefer. You're not using Google Chrome Version X.X, you're just using Google Chrome.
Mozilla was at the top of the heap with Firefox for many years until Chrome started to chip away at its marketshare. I've never been a Firefox guy, myself. Too many long updates and crashes. It seemed like everytime I updated there was some 30 minute long update process involved. No thanks, sirs!
It's interesting that Mozilla has essentially said tough noogies to the enterprise sector. Here is Mike Kaply:
I have 500,000 corporate users on Firefox 3.6. We just completing a test cycle of Firefox 4 on many thousands of internal business web applications. Many hundreds of application owners and their test teams have participated. We gave them several months to ready themselves. We worked with dozens of internal Add-On developers and product teams to prepare their add-ons for Firefox 4. We're poised to deploy Firefox 4.01 in 3Q when the corporate change freeze lifts...The Firefox 4 EOL [end of life schedule] is a kick in the stomach. 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?
Cue Microsoft to jump in with a bouquet of roses for this guy.
It's become apparant that Mozilla and Google are ready, willing, and able to embrace the always updating web to garner more users while Microsoft is, as usual, ready to embrace the enterprise market. They'll also continue to do their best to make sure these folks are always going to be prepared for as long as they need to.