Mozilla plans four Firefoxes in 2011

The Chrome effect

Mozilla is planning to release four new versions of Firefox this year, shortening the browser's traditional release cycle considerably. To date, the open source outfit has released a new version of the browser every 12 to 18 months or so.

Presumably, the proposed move is a response to Google, which now releases a new version of Chrome every six to eight weeks.

According to a draft of Mozilla's Firefox roadmap for 2011 – last updated in December – one of the organization's priorities is to "ship our new technology to users in smaller bundles, more frequently." As part of this effort, Mozilla is eying four Firefox releases this year, including Firefox 4.

In a note to developers last month, Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich said that Firefox 5 would likely arrive four months after Firefox 4. And he confirms with The Reg that Mozilla is moving to quarterly release cycles.

Firefox 4, for what it's worth, is already delayed. It was originally scheduled to ship at the end of last year, but as is typical of Firefox releases, the rollout has been pushed back in favor of more testing. A tenth beta arrived in late January, and the organization says it will release at least two more beta builds before settling on a release candidate.

Mozilla's roadmap draft indicates that Firefox 5 will offer a new account manager, a UI for "simple sharing", UI animation, and support for 64-bit Windows. Firefox 6 is slated to include a faster cache, support for Mac OS X 10.7, JavaScript optimizations, and a move towards open "web applications". Google is now offering a Chrome Web Store, where users can browse and "install" web apps on their Chrome browsers, but Mozilla has proposed an "open" framework for online stores that would offer web applications for any browser.

According to the roadmap, Mozilla is looking to design and implement its web application framework and implement "missing pieces of CSS/HTML required for compelling web applications." ®

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