I cannot be the first to say this, but Mozilla by flipping through Firefox 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 every six weeks or so are really screwing their corporate adoption fans.

Why? For an arbitrary series of Internet Explorer 8.x (or 6.x, or 9.x etc), laggardly corporations could state “our internal web applications will be compatible with all 8.x releases of Internet Explorer”. They can say that with modest certainty because the layout engine (or other major components of browser) will no be rewritten between 8.0 and 8.1. They then choose to fix at the 8.x, and accept patches within that series.

However Mozilla are giving no ability for corporate types to fix at major versions, nor any guarantees around when major components will be rewritten.

At a smaller scale we are already seeing issues with the availability of Firefox plugins for the cutting edge releases. Previously, plugin-makers could mark their products as compatible with a series like 3.x and relax somewhat. Nowadays they have to really watch the release schedule for Firefox and ship accordingly, or aim at a incredibly broad range like 3.x -> 15.x and ignore the fact that that is an egregious claim.

As an aside, it would be nice for Sauce Labs to deploy a ‘daily Firefox’ build, that customers could run test suites against. Corporate types would be able to feel more comfy with Firefox then, and offer greater assurances about compatibility for internal going forward. External apps might also benefit, obviously.


October 12th, 2011