Why Firefox Rapid Release Schedule Is a Bad Idea
Mozilla has committed to a more aggressive release schedule for the Firefox Web browser. There were nearly three years between the launch of Firefox 3 and Firefox 4, but Firefox 5 is expected to be introduced in a matter of months at the end of June. There are some benefits to the rapid release schedule, but also some potential pitfalls.
The Web is a rapidly changing environment. HTML may still be the foundation upon which the Web is built, but a lot has happened since the summer of 2008. Hardware has changed and evolved, new Web technologies have been introduced, and the way users interact with the Web and what they expect from a browser have all changed dramatically in those three years.
The development cycle proposed by Mozilla seems more like an incremental update cycle. But, unlike traditional software increments that tend to primarily address bugs or flaws in the major release, the new Firefox development cycle will quickly incorporate new features and technologies so that each overlapping 18-week release of Firefox will be a major release. Firefox 5 should be out in June, followed by Firefox 6 possibly by mid-August.