Mozilla has responded to their business, government and school user base by releasing Firefox ESR – Extended Support Release. Mozilla suffered heavy backlash from these groups when they adapted a new accelerated release plan spring of 2011 which moved the browser from version 3 to 9 in six months as opposed to the nine years between 0.1 to 3.6. I joined the fray after versions 4,5,6,7… started creating support incidents: Dear Mozilla
Their plan is to have two release tracks – one for individual users which will be constantly updating and adding the latest features, the second is for large entities who require stability and ample time for testing to ensure internal or 3rd party application support.
The timetable calls for annual ESR releases that catch up to the public release. Whether this works or not will depend on the flexibility of large groups to test and adapt on a yearly basis. As always everyone involved is tied to speed of developers both internal and external – how fast can that 3rd party vendor that supplies you with a critical web app update their code to move from FF 10.2 to 17.5? Time will tell but developers better start separating core code from browser dependencies because Chrome, Firefox and so Internet Explorer are going to battling it with constant change and releases.
Mozilla has also released an extension to help with browser management and configuration – very important for large entities and something that’s been lacking in Firefox. This appears to be a good start: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/cck/
In the end will Internet Explorer keep a major footprint because of their business friendly release schedule and backward compatibility while Chrome and Firefox battle it out for cool factor? As I say to our Service Desk and PC customers whenever there are issues with Salesforce.com, Webex, Concur, ADP etc. etc. try Internet Explorer, it works…
Customer: Application xyz used to work
Me: Let’s try switching to Internet Explorer from Chrome 24 or Firefox 2,221
Customer: Internet Explorer? Will anyone know I’m using it?
Me: LOL, yes I know IE isn’t sexy but it works
Customer: where is it?
Me: It’s the Blue E that you used to call “The Internet”
Customer: Oh, wow that works!
Me: Yep, old reliable…
- The ESR proposal: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Enterprise/Firefox/ExtendedSupport:Proposal
- Main page and download link: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/
- Firefox Extended Support Release FAQ: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/faq/
- Firefox Enterprise WiKi: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Enterprise
Firefox ESR Timetable