Saturday, June 25, 2011

Firefox 4 End Of Life = Pissed Off Enterprise

Well - THAT was a short release cycle, indeed! The Mozilla developers who write/maintain Firefox has said that it will not patch or add any security enhancements for Firefox 4... which was released three months ago.

In a post on the forum - Christian Legnitto, the Firefox release manager, was pretty blunt in a May 22 message. "Firefox 5 will be the security update for Firefox 4..."


Now that's all fine and good and everything - if you were a small software company that came out with a SaaS (Software As A Service) application that people just used on the web... but when you're a major browser vendor - that's a whole different story.

If you're a big organization - you're on the previous 2 or 3 versions back on a key piece of software all the time. Why? Because you have tens (or hundreds!) of thousands of users on all kinds of hardware with all kinds of software and OS versions. You also usually have hundreds (if not thousands) of web-based applications that need to be vetted, tested and stamped "OK" before you roll out an upgrade of a key piece of software.

Case in point - John Walicki (a manager of workplace and mobility in the office of IBM's CIO) who made a comment on the blog of Mike Kaply:
"...I have 500,000 corporate users on Firefox 3.6. We’re just completing a test cycle of Firefox 4 on many thousands of internal business web applications. Many hundreds of application owners and their test teams have participated. We gave them several months to ready themselves. We worked with dozens of internal Add-On developers and product teams to prepare their add-ons for Firefox 4. We’re poised to deploy Firefox 4.01 in 3Q when the corporate change freeze lifts. Education programs, documentation updates, communications all are planned.... I applaud the effort to accelerate the pace of Web experience and I expect to chase version releases well into the future. The Firefox 4 EOL is a kick in the stomach. 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 EOL when Firefox 6 is released?"
Well-said Mr. Walicki. Half a million users. On Firefox 3.6. Whoa.

Now you get some young programmers whose attitude toward enterprise is "who the hell cares?" -  you just know that the other browser vendors will gladly take up the slack. And that's just what happened, according to and article from ComputerWorld's Brian Keizer:

"I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we'd like the opportunity to win back your business," said Ari Bixhorn, director of IE at Microsoft, in a post on his personal blog. "We've got a great solution for corporate customers with both IE8 and IE9, and believe we could help you address the challenges you're currently facing."

Oh, and Microsoft announced the same day that they're supporting IE 9 (that came out a couple of days before Firefox 4) until 2020.

Methinks there will be a change of heart in the Firefox camp come early next week. Either that, or Microsoft will raise their share of the browser market dramatically over the next few months.

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