Mozilla released a new Firefox browser Tuesday as the first fruit of its commitment to a new fast-track process under which the browser will be automatically refreshed at eight-week intervals. The vast majority of the Firefox 5 improvements are under the hood, including support for the CSS Animations standard and a new privacy feature that lets users opt out of tracking used for behavioral advertising.
Unlike previous Firefox releases, the launch of Firefox 5 came without huge fanfare. But with the rollout, the Mozilla Foundation is also ending security updates for Firefox 4, which received its final scheduled patch in April.
"Firefox 5 will be the security update for Firefox 4 and delivered as a minor update," wrote Firefox release manager Christian Legnitto late last month in a Mozilla developer mail list. "We most definitely reserve the right to change the plan later due to new information or invalid assumptions, but we are currently driving to mark Firefox 4 as unsupported when Firefox 5 comes out."
Some Firefox 4 users may not want to click on the upgrade to Firefox 5 pop-up window when it appears because of concerns about the new version's compatibility with the plug-ins they are currently using. If they delay updating or opt out of the process entirely, however, this will leave them vulnerable to security holes.
On the other hand, Mozilla left the door open should a critical security flaw arise in Firefox 4 that requires immediate attention. "But that would be an 'unplanned' emergency release and not a planned one," wrote Asa Dotzler, community coordinator for Firefox marketing projects.
Mozilla intends to treat Firefox 3.6 users differently from Firefox 4 users "because the jump from 3.6 to 4 is much larger than the jump from 4.0 to 5.0," Dotzler wrote. The goal is to "keep supporting 3.6 with security updates and increasingly loud prompted updates to our latest release until that number of users is low enough to make the updates automatic."
Pushing Browser Updates
Firefox held 21.74 percent of the global browser market at the end of May, according to Net Applications, and its market share has hovered around 22 percent for the past year. According to the web-metrics firm, Firefox 4 had a 10.08 percent share last month, with Firefox 3.6 holding 9.14 percent.
Microsoft has already moved the majority of its Internet Explorer users worldwide to IE8, which held 31.28 percent of the market in May, according to Net Applications. But the software giant's latest IE9 offering has yet to gain much market traction with a tiny 4.19 percent share. Additionally, 7.04 percent of all browser users worldwide were still running IE7 at the end of May, and 10.36 percent were using IE6.
Mozilla's goal is to make each future browser release a nonevent for users like Google's Chrome browser.
"Mozilla's shift to a rapid-release development cycle delivers cutting-edge Firefox features, performance enhancements, security updates, and stability improvements to users faster," a Mozilla blog explained. "The latest version of Firefox includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements that make it easier to discover and use all of the innovative features in Firefox."
Posted: 2011-07-06 @ 12:47pm PT
Where did google tool bar go?