Mozilla Firefox 5 is here -- with whimper, not bang

fun with firefox (HandleWithJoy at ipernity)
By Richi Jennings (@richi) - June 22, 2011.

[Updated to note the end of Firefox 4 support]

Mozilla has launched Firefox 5 and you can download it now. But don't expect too much: this is the first of the new rapid release cycle builds, so there's not a lot to show for the new major version increment. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ask, "What's in a number?"

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: The Microsoft "bar" code...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Firefox 5 met Mozilla's ... deadline of June 21, notable because the company has ... struggled to ship browser upgrades on time. ...  The company committed to ... a six-week refresh cycle that lets developers add features as they're completed. ... Because of the shorter ... cycle, Mozilla called out relatively few new features in Firefox 5.


[Of the] more than 1,000 improvements to the browser, most [are] minor bug fixes or tweaks. ...  The most significant changes [are] enhanced support for HTML5 and new support for CSS ... animations.


Seven of the 10 bugs quashed in Firefox 5 were also rated critical. ... Users running Firefox 4 will be offered the upgrade to Firefox 5 through the browser's update mechanism. ... Firefox 5 can also be downloaded manually from Mozilla's site.  

  Chris Martin adds:

The latest version ... doesn't bring any major differences in appearance ... reworked in Firefox 4. ... Improvements are mostly behind the scenes. ... The 'Do Not Track' privacy feature ... is now ... on [all] platforms.


Firefox 5 has come speeding in the wake of its predecessor Firefox 4, which has had over 200 million downloads across Windows, Mac and Linux.  

But Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is deeply disappointed:

At most, I’d call it Firefox 4.1, but really it’s little more than Firefox 4.02. ... [They] seem to believe that if they [do] “major” releases every six weeks, they’ll convince people they’re better. ... Dumb idea.


Its lack of stability ... and continued hunger for memory-doesn’t seem to be improved. ... Mozilla claims that has “Improved standards support. ... Not what I found. ...  In terms of both features and performance ... this new Firefox just doesn’t cut the mustard.


Is this enough to call this version of Firefox a major new release? ... Not even close.  

  On balance, Tony Bradley concludes it's "a recipe for failure":

Mozilla's rapid release schedule ... essentially makes each new release a requirement to continue support. [It] paints Firefox into a corner where only loyal hobbyists can ... use the browser. ... Mozilla has shot Firefox in the foot.


Mozilla will continue to churn the market share of Firefox loyalists. ... For consumers, it probably won't be a big deal ... [but] the rest of the world--particularly companies ... will shy away from the Mozilla browser. ... [The] endurance of Internet Explorer 6 is a testament to how stubborn some IT departments can be.


Forcing users to upgrade every two months ... just to maintain basic support and security updates is too much of a commitment.  

And Microsoft's Ari Bixhorn just couldn't resist this unsubtle jibe

An In-Depth Look at What’s New in Firefox 5


And Finally...
The Microsoft "bar" code
Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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