Mozilla Pushes Firefox 3.6 Update

Craig Buckler

If you’re still using Firefox 3.6 or below, you’ll soon be prompted to upgrade to version 8.0. Following several postponements, Mozilla has finally pushed the kill-switch which should bring most users up to date.

Firefox 3.6 was released in January 2010 but the 3.0 codebase originally shipped in June 2008. That feels a little ancient now and, while 3.6 remains a capable browser, it’s relatively slow and doesn’t support many of the new HTML5 facilities Mozilla introduced in version 4 and above. Currently, around 7.5% of web users retain Firefox 3.x or below — it will be interesting to assess the impact of the recommended upgrade on Firefox’s market share.

Rapid Updates

Users with the old version of Firefox may be slightly surprised by Mozilla’s rapid 6-week update schedule. While it’s great for developers adopting cutting-edge technologies, it’s attracted criticism from private and business users who don’t want broken plugins or frequent test and release plans.

To appease enterprise users, Mozilla has announced a new Extended Support Release (ESR) version of Firefox which will be released every 30 weeks — proposed to start with version 8. The browser will be supported for 42 weeks and, bar any essential security fixes, will receive its next update when Firefox reaches version 13.

An Uncertain Future?

In 2010, 84% of Mozilla’s revenue — approximately $100 million — came directly from a Google advertising revenue share. That has come to end and it’s not clear how Mozilla will replace it.

When the deal was negotiated in 2008, Chrome was a new browser with a small user base. That’s no longer the case and Chrome has overtaken Firefox to become the world’s second-favorite browser.

Firefox is an open-source product. While it doesn’t necessarily depend on the fortunes of Mozilla, it’s a worrying development and the organization needs to adopt a new finance plan quickly.

Are you using Firefox 3.6? Do you plan to upgrade? Will you be sticking with the older browser?