Mozilla: Firefox 4 will be our last big release

Mozilla will copy Google’s frequent browser updates, pushing out features when they’re ready rather than wait for big releases, executives said today.

Mozilla: Firefox 4 will be our last big release

Last year, Google announced Chrome would be updated every six weeks, regardless of whether major changes were being rolled out.

Earlier this month, Mozilla’s own roadmap promised Firefox would hit version 7 by the end of the year.

“This [Firefox 4] is the last big release we’re going to do,” Jay Sullivan, vice president of product at Mozilla, told PC Pro. “We are going to do smaller, quicker releases.”

What we want to do is get the power into users’ hands more quickly

“What we want to do is get the power into users’ hands more quickly,” he said. “For example, the video tag was shippable in June – we should have shipped it. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for this whole package. Why wouldn’t we ship the video tag when it’s ready?”

“We’re moving on web time now, and we’ve been shipping a little bit on desktop time,” he admitted. “It’s not necessary, so we’re undergoing some process changes, and we’ll do smaller bundles more quickly.”

More betas for Firefox

That process change is also why Firefox 4 has had 12 betas ahead of the release candidate, which is expected to arrive within weeks.

“We changed the way we do betas,” Sullivan said. “We used to do three or four big betas, now we do betas every three weeks. The number sounds big, but why is there Chrome 9? Because they do fewer features but more releases. So we did fewer features per beta, but more betas. The number’s not that meaningful.”

Despite missing an expected November delivery, he said Firefox 4 hadn’t been in development for all that long.

“I don’t think it’s taken a long time,” he said. “We set out what Firefox 4 was in May of 2010, and did our first beta in July, and have been going from there.”

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