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Mozilla dev admits Firefox killed its rep with never ending updates

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 09 Jul 2012 22:18 User comments (26)

Mozilla dev admits Firefox killed its rep with never ending updates After once being a rising star, the Firefox browser has quickly lost its luster while losing share quickly to Chrome and to a lesser degree, Safari.
Mozilla dev Jono DiCarlo has admitted this week that the browser's rapid release cycle has killed Firefox's reputation and is leading to its demise.

The company has alienated plugin makers and annoyed users, says DiCarlo, and that has led to many defecting to Chrome: "Ironically, by doing rapid releases poorly, we just made Firefox look like an inferior version of Chrome. And by pushing a never-ending stream of updates on people who didn't want them, we drove a lot of those people to Chrome; exactly what we were trying to prevent."

Until they tried to mimic Chrome, Firefox would make major releases once a year or so, but they have now flown to version 13 from version 4 in less than two years, forcing users to update with intrusive dialog boxes that pop up while you are browsing.

"After years of aspiring to improve software usability, I've come to the extremely humbling realization that the single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often! Let it remain stable long enough for us to learn it and get good at it. There's no UI better than one you already know, and no UI worse than one you thought you knew but now have to relearn," adds DiCarlo.

While at least one dev understands what is going wrong, it may be too late for the browser.

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26 user comments

19.7.2012 22:55

No you think? It was stupid to do it, just go back to the normal sane update setup...


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

---
Check out my crappy creations
http://zippydsmlee.deviantart.com/

29.7.2012 22:55

Can't say we didn't tell them so... it was all downhill from the removal of the status bar and the url prefixes.

39.7.2012 23:04

If firefox went back to how it was, and went back to focusing on the browser, instead of splitting its focus to a million other things. (I'm looking at you FirefoxOS ). I think Firefox could come back. They certainly still have a large amount of the shares.


Carpe Noctem

49.7.2012 23:06

Originally posted by hikaricor:
Can't say we didn't tell them so... it was all downhill from the removal of the status bar and the url prefixes.

I have status bar and stuff, just turn them back on under view.


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

---
Check out my crappy creations
http://zippydsmlee.deviantart.com/

59.7.2012 23:13

it's true, the updates did kill Firefox.

69.7.2012 23:14

Originally posted by ZippyDSM:
Originally posted by hikaricor:
Can't say we didn't tell them so... it was all downhill from the removal of the status bar and the url prefixes.

I have status bar and stuff, just turn them back on under view.

No, you don't have the status bar, you have an addon that mimics the status bar just like I do. This shouldn't have to be used in the first place... the url prefixes can be re-enabled however but again shouldn't have to be. These were just two examples of the many absurd changes that have ruined FF.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Jul 2012 @ 23:15

--aaron

79.7.2012 23:50

The rapid release thing was totally stupid. However, I still prefer Firefox over any other browser. Chrome just annoys me (but it's not bad).

810.7.2012 1:17

Up-grading to 13th. I lost all my bookmarks on the PC I use most.


Live Free or Die.
The rule above all the rules is: Survive !
Capitalism: Funnel most of the $$$ to the already rich.

910.7.2012 2:03

Maybe the Firefox team will stop with the constant updates.....Also, I still can't sort my bookmarks recursively. I have to do it folder by folder. May not be an issue to most but it is when I have close to 10,000 saved bookmarks.

1010.7.2012 6:14

I think I'll go ahead and buck the trend of proclaiming doom on Firefox here.

Quote:
After once being a rising star, the Firefox browser has quickly lost its luster while losing share quickly to Chrome and to a lesser degree, Safari.

Firefox's share has admittedly decreased a little, but this statement strikes me as inaccurate. Internet Explorer is the browser that has really been hemorrhaging market share to Chrome. And all the Firefox-is-dead comments are a bit melodramatic. So it's not number two anymore -- big deal. There are still at least a couple hundred million people who have stuck with it. If we naively assume that market share is a reliable indicator of a browser's superiority, IE has been the best browser for the past decade, and Chrome just now barely equals it (by some metrics).

Truth be told, I think a lot of Chrome's success is due to the same reason IE was successful for so many years: Computer illiterates end up with it by default. There are so many programs that come bundled with Chrome nowadays that anyone who blindly clicks "Next" to install something will probably wind up with Chrome as their default web browser before long, if the manufacturer of their computer didn't already put it there. How many programs/manufacturers bundle Firefox? I think Google's influence in software and the search market is a much bigger factor in the shift in browser share than Firefox's change in release cycles.

Rapid releases may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but as the name implies, they have also enabled performance improvements and web standards updates to quickly reach the release phase of development. Firefox's memory management, JS performance and web standards support have all improved dramatically over the past couple years, and delaying these advances to adhere to the old release cycle might have cost even more market share than the rapid release cycle that so many find distasteful.

The process of transitioning add-ons to new Firefox versions has also become much more manageable than when FF 4 first came out, and the fact that there are fewer substantial changes between major releases also means that new releases tend to be less disruptive to an add-on's workings. The process of updating Firefox itself has also been streamlined recently, to the point that user interaction can be completely avoided.

I'm not saying rapid releases are a perfect solution, but they're not without their benefits, and I think a lot of people are ignoring the fact that the old release system had some notable flaws too.

1110.7.2012 8:48

The beta is far worse. they had 3 updates last week.

it's at V14.11 now.

1210.7.2012 11:10

I don't know why Mozilla wants to keep making a new version every time they release an update. In the next 2 years we will be getting close to version 100 the way they are going. Before it use to be something to look forward to when a new version of Firefox was to be released. I still and probably will always use Firefox, I just can not stand the look of Chrome.

1310.7.2012 11:21

If they would simply address the memory leaks & keep the footprint small I would be perfectly fine with it. It's not like I don't use FF all the time as it is.

My secondary is Chrome for the simple fact I have FF so locked out of 'Flash traps' & the likes I can't get to simple sites like Instructables or others that really don't have security issues (within them).

I wasn't aware the FF was being targeted as hard as IE by virus' & the likes. But they didn't have to go the route they did with the upgrades. That's like tearing down the house when they originally planned to repaint.


1410.7.2012 18:59

i still love firefox but yeah less updates better, dont update for the sake of it

1510.7.2012 19:09

Well this is what really annoyed me as well, constant updates and some of my plugins after their update wouldn't work and i had to wait and wait so if they don't get it together soon i'm off to chrome as well.

Quote:
The single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often!
...Damn right.

Mozilla...Just relax and don't rush too much, Take your time.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jul 2012 @ 19:15

1610.7.2012 22:42

the update numbers are a joke, i love FF to bits but its taken the shine off of it. i used to look forward to a major update but you never know when that will come with them now....i mean could that come in at FF 100 or something, they made a major mistake in using major release number instead of using minor build numbers for security updates....which is what it is really

1711.7.2012 2:08

Originally posted by JGJD2001:
i used to look forward to a major update but you never know when that will come with them now.

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Features/Release_Tracking ;-)

1813.7.2012 8:44

All those feature changes (like the centered image files and blech background color change) that they imposed, with no way to configure if you want that new behavior or not, were more reasons to piss us off and go to another browser.

I had to install a plugin to go back to the standard behavior.

I'll use my image viewer for stuff like that if I want it.

-- Smoov

1913.7.2012 17:28

I was annoyed by the changes FF made until I found that I could easily put everything back how I wanted it with a few add-ons. I added status-4-evar to get the status bar back, Menu Editor 1.2.7 to put "open in a new window" back to my top choice in the context menu, and in the customizations for the toolbars, they added the old bookmark button so I basically could make it look like FF 3.6 but still have whatever new improvements they have made.

I also love the add-on Password Exporter 1.2.1. It allows you to export your saved passwords to a file in the same way you can export your bookmarks.

After a short time of thinking I would have to move on from FF, I now love it again. I tried Chrome for a while but I sooo hate the way they do the bookmarks/favorites that I just couldn't live with it.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 13 Jul 2012 @ 17:29

2013.7.2012 21:07

Glad someone at Mozilla recognizes they tripped up and is willing to acknowledge that fact. The frequency of updates hasn't been that big of an issue for me -- more of a (small) irritant than anything else, but I've not had any sort of catastrophic result in the updating process (at least so far) like some who posted above.

What HAS become a large irritant with the last couple of updates is the propensity for FF to lose focus frequently, sometimes in the midst of typing something. I'm not certain that everyone is experiencing this bug, though a few are and those of us who have reported it are being told "it's a Flash issue" and the devs are working on it. Well, the updates of Flash that were released in the past couple of days didn't fix it (noted on FF bug report), and it still continues to occur with ever-increasing irritation.

Hate Chrome, won't use IE for anything other than Windows Updates and a few sites (like my bank's, regrettably) which require ActiveX functionality to work properly, and might end up returning to Opera -- which I used for more than a decade before reaching a terminal point of disenchantment with the 11.6x releases that involved non-backwards compatible conversions of mail databases and other support components while producing way too much on-screen garble. That was the trigger for my switch to FF last year, and the rapid-release cycle that Mozilla was following isn't quite as bad as some (uTorrent comes immediately to mind), but seems less-than-appropriate for full version status each time there's a new release.


2114.7.2012 2:17

I stayed with using SeaMonkey instead of Firefox.

For someone who had the perfect browser/mail/newsgroup suite with Netscape Communicator, to have to go to Firefox just wasn't an option.

Fortunately, the Mozilla group kept developing Communicator as SeaMonkey, and is staying up to date.

-- Smoov

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Jul 2012 @ 1:32

2216.7.2012 1:53

using firefox version 3.6.28

works well for me to date/as of this post and passes my personal bank "browser test"

I care not for the versions above 3.6 whatsoever.

2316.7.2012 3:08

Originally posted by noprob_01:
using firefox version 3.6.28

works well for me to date/as of this post and passes my personal bank "browser test"

I care not for the versions above 3.6 whatsoever.

This is inadvisable considering that 3.6 no longer receives security updates. (Not to mention updates to support rapidly evolving web standards that more and more sites are beginning to utilize.)

2416.7.2012 4:54

HI,I had the same problem with F/F,I lost my connection to
CLIP MARKS which i thought was really neat when i up graded to a
newer version it went away which i thought was really stupid since
most of these up grades were written so called experts and they were not smart enough to make sure the add on and plugins would
work. REALLY STUPID NOT TO CHECK THEM OUT BEFORE ISSUING UPDATE

2516.7.2012 23:33

Originally posted by whiskey99:
HI,I had the same problem with F/F,I lost my connection to
CLIP MARKS which i thought was really neat when i up graded to a
newer version it went away which i thought was really stupid since
most of these up grades were written so called experts and they were not smart enough to make sure the add on and plugins would
work. REALLY STUPID NOT TO CHECK THEM OUT BEFORE ISSUING UPDATE

Considering there are over 8,000 addons (not counting those which are not tracked on Mozilla's site), it seems a little impractical that Mozilla would check all of them to make sure none are broken by changes to the browser. And with a great deal of the changes to Firefox being tied to performance improvements and bug fixes, what exactly would they do if such a change did break an addon? Hold back the improvement for the sake of one addon?

For that addon you mentioned, I see that Mozilla recommends Evernote as an alternative. Have you tried that?
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 Jul 2012 @ 23:34

2627.7.2012 19:34

YOU'D THINK Firefox finally got the message but nooooooooo, I see a beta for Firefox 15 on page one of Afterdawn....

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