Rapid releases for Firefox: An opportunity for Internet Explorer?

Years ago, Microsoft hobbled its browser business by allowing five years to pass between the release of new Internet Explorer versions. Is Mozilla about to do the same thing to Firefox by moving too quickly?

That’s the debate now boiling in the technology industry over Firefox’s new rapid release schedule. It’s being fueled by a blog post by consultant Mike Kaply on the situation, which sparked a comment by one of his readers, John Walicki, detailing the challenges created by the rapid releases. An excerpt:

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. By the time I validate Firefox 5, what guarantee would I have that Firefox 5 won’t go (end of life) when Firefox 6 is released?

Enter Firefox evangelist Asa Dotzler, who stirred up the debate by saying that Mozilla’s focus is rightly consumers, not big companies. “Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours,” he wrote in response.

That’s a bit of a shock to many of the companies that have been shifting to Firefox. Windows author and blogger Ed Bott sums up his impressions of that comment in a post on ZDNet: Mozilla to enterprise customers: “Drop dead”.

Enter Microsoft’s Ari Bixhorn, who makes his pitch in an open letter to John Walicki: “I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we’d like the opportunity to win back your business,” he writes.

Those browser market stats should be particularly interesting to watch over the next year or so.

Previously: A cupcake for Firefox 5: Microsoft has some fun with Mozilla’s new rapid release

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Mozilla for standing firm on their innovation cycle. Firefox exists because it was liberated from the shackles of a corporate release cycle,* and it will continue to exist because it will grow at the speed of the web.

    To corporations that refuse to progress, I will happily sell a few tower-based desktops running Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2000. I empathize with those for whom 6 weeks is simply too fast to develop a major improvement to a software.

    * Mozilla Firefox was formerly known as “Mozilla Navigator,” a paid product from Netscape Communications. It cost $30 and was notoriously failure-prone. Its destruction by Microsoft in the 1990s was so swift that the government attempted to castrate Microsoft in retribution.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Mozilla for standing firm on their innovation cycle. Firefox exists because it was liberated from the shackles of a corporate release cycle,* and it will continue to exist because it will grow at the speed of the web.

    To corporations that refuse to progress, I will happily sell a few tower-based desktops running Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2000. I empathize with those for whom 6 weeks is simply too fast to develop a major improvement to a software.

    * Mozilla Firefox was formerly known as “Mozilla Navigator,” a paid product from Netscape Communications. It cost $30 and was notoriously failure-prone. Its destruction by Microsoft in the 1990s was so swift that the government attempted to castrate Microsoft in retribution.

  • Strawberry Sundae

    Some assorted comments.

    I’m not sure that many companies have been shifting to Firefox like you say, at least not as a proportion of companies in general.

    Ed Bott is a well know Microsoft hack. The words he attributed to Firefox, “Drop dead,” were his own. 

    Ari Bixhorn in his open letter says he’d like to “win back” IBM’s business but doesn’t mention how Microsoft would accomodate IBM’s varied OS environment. I doubt his IE solution would go down well on their Mac or Linux systems.

    Also, I agree that browser market stats will be interested to watch going forward but not for anything to do with the content of this article.

    • Guest

      He said he’d like to win back John’s business, not Mike’s. Where do you see that John works for IBM?

  • Guest

    Mozilla’s stance makes no sense for business customers, and it certainly presents an opportunity for Microsoft to win back business, at least on the Windows platform.

    For consumers, the real contest is between Chrome and everything else. I would advise the IE team to pay close attention to the reasons Google is winning share.