Firefox just copied another feature of Chrome, and adopted the rapid release process. The first major release in the series, Firefox 5, is out – and the entire Mozilla community is now discussing the rapid release process.
Daniel Glazman, the co-chairman of the CSS Working Group at W3C, has posted a detailed blogpost explaining pros and cons of the newer release system. He has the valid point that the rapid release process is actually not good for the Mozilla ecosystem. Mozilla’s platform is used by several projects other than Firefox. He writes, "Users of tools embedding Gecko (for instance through XULRunner) want applications matching the modernity and security of the last version of Firefox. But it’s very difficult for organizations that are most of the time much smaller than Mozilla itself to follow the trend. [...] I can already hear the counter-argument: don’t mention Firefox versions, mention Gecko versions. But guys, that’s exactly what I said about the "Powered by Mozilla" stamp: a lot of people have just no idea what Mozilla or Gecko are! They know the name "Firefox", they partly ignore "Mozilla" and totally ignore "Gecko". Firefox is the only reference that does matter here.".
Although, Mike Kaply says "As a Firefox developer, I love it. As an add-on developer, I find it annoying but mostly a non-issue.". Glazman and Mike also point out the issue with the corporate deployment of Firefox: "Companies simply can’t turn around major browser updates in six weeks (and each one of these is a major update). With security releases, there was a reasonable expectation that web applications wouldn’t break as a result of changes. With these releases, there is no such expectation. So a full test cycle needs to be run with every release. By the time this cycle is completed and the browser is piloted and deployed, another version of Firefox would already be released so they’d already be behind.".
Another issue is related with the Add-ons compatibility. The recent analysis by Mozilla shows that the 85% Firefox users use at least one add-on. As a new version of Firefox appears, many add-ons become incompatible with the latest release – and in majority of the cases it is just because the maxVersion flag of the add-on is not updated to the latest version. Although, Mozilla is working on this issue and a new policy for add-on compatibility is now under consideration. Under the new policy, if an add-on is compatible with the current version of Firefox, it will be automatically marked as compatible with the next release unless any issue is discovered.