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Mozilla Considers Firefox 3.6 Retirement, Too


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Mozilla is planning to retire Firefox 3.6 from support, but won't put the 18-month-old browser out to pasture until August at the earliest. The retirement of Firefox 3.6 would follow that of Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.5 earlier this year.

Firefox 3.5, which Mozilla launched in mid-2009, received its last security update in April. Since then, users have been encouraged to upgrade to either Firefox 3.6 or 4. Going forward, the estimated 12 million users of Firefox 3.5 will see their browser automatically updated to Firefox 3.6 , a move the company discussed last month.

This week, Mozilla retired Firefox 4 , which debuted three just months ago, as it rolled out Firefox 5 .

That move has been criticized by some enterprise IT managers . They've argued that the quick retirement combined with Mozilla's rapid-release scheme -- which delivers a new edition every six weeks -- puts them in an impossible position: By the time they test one version, another will already be out.

Next on the drop list: Firefox 3.6.

Mozilla has decided to issue at least one more security update for that edition, which shipped in January 2010. The update, to be pegged 3.6.19, will be released alongside Firefox 6 when the latter ships on August 16.

The company has not disclosed other parts of its plan to declare Firefox 3.6 at "end of life," or EOL. Although Mozilla held a meeting Tuesday in its Mountain View, Calif. office to discuss Firefox 3.6's retirement, unlike its usual practice the company did not publish notes from that meeting.

The demise of Firefox 3.6 from support would put users who have stuck with the older version in a bind.

IBM, for example, selected Firefox 3.6 last summer as its default browser for employees.

John Walicki, the manager of workplace and mobility in the office of IBM's CIO, has complained about the retirement of Firefox 4, saying that it would force him to make a tough decision.

"I'm now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x," Walicki said in a comment appended to a blog post .

When Mozilla retires Firefox 3.6, that last option won't be available to Walicki and IBM.

Microsoft has exploited the Firefox retirement dustup to tout its support policies for Internet Explorer (IE).

Yesterday, Ari Bixhorn, director of IE, published an open letter to Walicki urging him to consider switching from Firefox to IE8 or IE9. "I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we'd like the opportunity to win back your business," said Bixhorn.

The retirement of Firefox 3.5 will affect only a small fraction of Mozilla's active users. According to Web metrics company Net Applications, Firefox 3.5 accounted for just 6% of all copies of Mozilla's browser used in May.

It's unclear how many users would be impacted in mid-August by the retirement of Firefox 3.6: Although that edition accounted for 42% of all copies last month, the browser has been on a steady decline as people have upgraded to Firefox 4. If the trend of the last three months continues, Firefox 3.6 would near extinction by the end of August.

Firefox 3.6.18 can still be downloaded manually from Mozilla's website.

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To be honest, I'm already sick of Mozilla's rapid fire roll out of "major" versions. Having to test the new release, create a test profile, import old profile data, check that add-ons are compatible with the new release, ... blah, blah, every few months is not my idea of fun.

What's now called a major release isn't. FF 5 could and should have been 4.1, and 6 probably should be 4.2.

Methinks Mozilla doesn't like IE being at *9* and FF "only" at 4 or 5. And it's the users who will suffer from this "my version is bigger than your version" BS.

Just my 2c... :)

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Yeah, it seems to be a pure marketing marketing decision. I doubt though Mozilla will ever go back, even with the public outcry. The masses still have no idea about how this is working.

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Usually a jump in major program version meant changes in the main UI of the program.. Chrome never did this really.. aside from a button change here and there.. Now Mozilla is doing the same...Really though could you imagine the demographic they are going after with this..the whole thing is asking for problems..

As it stands to run the current version and to have security updates for Mozilla it is advisable to run at least three versions.. installing into folders meant for each major version.. Mozilla Firefox 4..Mozilla Firefox 5..Mozilla Firefox 6..Mozilla Firefox 7 and so on... Running Firefox with command -p and/or in folder modification... and copying.. you must then copy or create and enter new profiles for each version number to see about compatibility and usability.. AND to search and look for inadequate replacements for extensions which either no longer have any support or may not even be possible to update for the future versions... and may longer offer the options it once did..or has..as it has become a form of route now that FF is routinely becoming user-UNfriendly by becoming incompatible and no longer working correctly upon upgrading.. ALL the while losing function and use because of it..

Bad choice.. Its definitely going to be one of the same things some of us noticed or experienced with some of the other browsers out there.. The thing is in this case.. instead of now offering an added feature... the features are becoming problematic.. themselves... Like Opera for example.. it has been able to add features.. without destroying previous ones..

This is unique to this instance in that FF had already in existence.. the platform for doing so.. but has been around long enough that it needs a refresh.. If in fact there is an initiative to upgrade this extension platform and the browser itself I would say it needs to happen and happen quickly.. and in a way that will allow devs to quickly shift focus.. and possibly even run the previous platform..

What I have noticed in the computing world as of late is getting to a point that it is appalling to see that we are moving backwards towards things that are appealing to children and looks like 'little tikes' toys when we load the UI.. I mean what is happening .. are they becoming BIG TABACCO.. Is this the business model they are going for.. what happen to being open source and doing your own thing.. Where is the drive to simply do it that way because it is a better product.. regardless of a marketing issue and who has turned this into a corporate initiative..

I have a lot to say for it.. I think because every time I turn around I see all this hot air.. blowing about... people on about ' We are gonna..' yet the EPIC faceplant right in front of you as far as the transition and function is concerned.. Anybody can put on a suit.. ANYBODY.. but it is different rather they are going to a ' funeral '.. or a ' wedding '...

I can drive this home like a sportscaster.. everyone knows that but I do have concerns.. I can't see the change.. What I was in for.. not there yet... its like a bullet in slow-mo.. meanwhile you have an anxiety attack before it finally hits you between the eyes.. and had time to get over it... LOL ( Like the bloody economy )

I think they should fork.. start a new form of the browser, coded fresh for these times, while maintaining the current .. and go from there.. develop it in the background, refine it.. generate interest and input from the right people.. and go from there.. IF I have to change browsers I am not for sure what I may do..really..

EDIT: can you see my frustration..even though the changes between 3 and 4 were good...some things are rough on the users..said I was getting worried.. as well as seeing our rights to dictate how we want our stuff to operate..

EDIT2: .. don't even say it.. foreshadowing.. ripple effect.. :lmao:

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I'm sticking with 3.6 until all this crazy crap levels out. Not a fan of these rapid releases. :angry:

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