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Mozilla: forget businesses, we're here for "regular users"

Firefox

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 27 Jun 2011 at 08:57

Mozilla has openly admitted it's focusing on consumers at the expense of businesses, after accelerating the release cycle of Firefox.

The open-source developers took more than a year to put together Firefox 4, but released its follow up in three months, mimicking the quick releases of Google Chrome.

The faster cycle means previous versions are killed off more quickly; Mozilla is sending Firefox 4 to end of life essentially immediately, pushing users to Firefox 5.

While the rapid release process sounds great, it’s an absolute fail for large deployments of Firefox

That makes it difficult not only for add-on developers to keep up, but for enterprises to deploy the browser, argued one browser consultant, citing a business user as saying the end-of-life for Firefox 4 was "a kick in the stomach".

"While the rapid release process sounds great, it’s an absolute fail for large deployments of Firefox," wrote consultant Mike Kaply on his blog.

In response, Asa Dotzler, community coordinator for Firefox marketing and founder of Mozilla's quality assurance scheme, replied: "You do realise that we get about two million Firefox downloads per day from regular user types, right?

"Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours," he added in the comments to the blog. "Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them, I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about.

"A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy," he continued. "I’d much rather Mozilla was spending its limited resources looking out for the billions of users that don’t have enterprise support systems already taking care of them."

That opinion will surely cheer Microsoft, as its Internet Explorer has long held the top spot for businesses, and it appears to have no plans to speed up its release cycle.

Kev Needham, Mozilla’s channel manager, defended Dotzler's position.

"We recognise that this shift may not be compatible with a large organisation's IT Policy and understand that it is challenging to organisations that have effort-intensive certification polices," he said in a statement provided by Mozilla.

"However, our development process is geared toward delivering products that support the web as it is today, while innovating and building future web capabilities. Tying Firefox product development to an organisational process we do not control would make it difficult for us to continue to innovate for our users and the betterment of the web."

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User comments

Firefox 5...

... has reintroduced a bug from v3.5.xx which causes a CPU spike every 7-10 seconds, which means I've had to go back to V4.0, which itself randomly chews its way through 1.5GB of memory, before releasing it and pretending nothing happened. I couldn't use either version in an enterprise.

By The_Scrote on 27 Jun 2011

@The_Scrote

I hope you've logged the bug, then we can see how long Mozilla takes to fix it.

By milliganp on 27 Jun 2011

@milliganp

Me and several others, I think... but as it was never fixed in 3.5 and neither was the 4.0 memory bug, I'm not holding out much hope.

By The_Scrote on 27 Jun 2011

Darryl

Given the Luddite attitude displayed by most system administrators, I think Asa is right.

By Gogster on 27 Jun 2011

@The_Scrote

I'm confused. First you say they've re-introduced the bug but now you say they never fixed it.

By artiss on 27 Jun 2011

I agree with Asa

As he says later in the blog, when was the last time a version of Firefox would break a webpage that previously worked?

IE on the other hand...

By artiss on 27 Jun 2011

Not good for OS

Open source advocates keep advocating that businesses should adopt "free" software. There are some great successes from open source in business - then along comes this guy from one of the best known suppliers of such software, basically sticks 2 fingers up at businesses and furthermore says "I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about." That statement reads to me as full of arrogance. Equivalent to 'We just don't care about you'. Dammit - he could even have made a sensible justification that talked about market focus - but no...

Attitudes like this just provide ammunition for anyone wanting to spread FUD about open source.

And by the way, Gogster, this so-called Luddite attitude of sysadmins is a result of (a) financial pressures (b) risk reduction (c) the need to understand what's out there at any one time. Sounds pretty sensible to me.

By AdrianB on 27 Jun 2011

@artiss

They never fixed it in the v3.5-3.6 series, and the fact it's back in v5 makes me think its disappearance in v4 was a fluke, rather than a genuine bugfix.

By The_Scrote on 27 Jun 2011

Whats wrong with choice?

I find nothing wrong with Firefox choosing which sector they want to devote their resources to. Its known as freedom of choice same as all users have.

By curiousclive on 27 Jun 2011

@curiousclive

Nothing wrong with them choosing anything for their target sector.

But with statements like Asa's, come consequences. Like the impact on business' opinions of how committed to their business customers open-source might be. Does open source want to be part of the business world or not?

By AdrianB on 27 Jun 2011

Asa Dotzler Comment...

...did I hear the sound of someone shooting themselves in the foot.

No matter that it may be correct it does, at a stroke, alienate a huge chunk of the potential target market.

For what it's worth, I virtually never use IE.

By jontym123 on 28 Jun 2011

I think they just gave up

They used to try to gain business customers. It didn't much work, so they stopped wasting their time on it.

By greenknight32 on 1 Jul 2011

Enterprise tools would help....

it woudl hurt them to give us a similar package to IEAK, to help us promote, configure and distribute FF within our networks easier then now, but this Chrome approach is a P.I.T.A., i barely started making headway with v4.0 - manual installs i hasten to add, and then they pull the v5 trick. No wonder they are losing their share of the browsers. Chrome are only increasing due to Android devices, not many companies use the browser.

By IainNIX on 1 Jul 2011

CCK Wizard

They do have this add-on - it stands for Client Configuration Kit. You can find it on the Mozilla Add-ons site. If you want an MSI installer package, you have to go to a third party:http://frontmotion.com/Firefox/index.htm

By greenknight32 on 3 Jul 2011

Farewell, Firefox!

Master Asa is out of place and out of depth. As long as he and his manager are actually in paid jobs, they need the sack. Firefox has become a promotion for switchover to Chrome/Chromium these last couple of years. As long as Mozilla is in the business of running a Google campaign, they are fine and dandy. It is not just businesses that get hit, but the regular guy all right. Add-ons not working? You must be joking, Master Asa! This is a downward spiral for Firefox In due course, it will be just another story in MBA-course textbooks.

By arichter on 3 Jul 2011

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