Mozilla's new rapid release schedule may help the best new Firefox features get to market faster, but it's also caused no small amount of consternation among business users of the open source browser. This week, Mozilla took a big step in trying to address that gap.
The outcry arose, of course, when it became clear that the release of Firefox 5 last month meant an end to official support for Firefox 4, whose own record-setting launch had only just taken place not long before.
Some enterprise users--represented in particular by a vocal few--were unhappy due to the evaluation procedures necessary within their companies to evaluate and test each new release. Mozilla, meanwhile, was apparently surprised by the vehemence of the response from a group it had never taken particularly seriously.
A week after Firefox 5's release the project responded with a blog post pledging better support for business users in the future, and this week it made good on those words by setting up the Mozilla Enterprise User Working Group.
'A Place to Ask Questions'
"Mozilla is fundamentally about people and we care about our users wherever they are," wrote Stormy Peters, head of developer engagement, in a Tuesday post on the Mozilla Blog.
"To this end, we are re-establishing a Mozilla Enterprise User Working Group as a place for enterprise developers, IT staff and Firefox developers to discuss the challenges, ideas and best practices for deploying Firefox in the enterprise," Peters added. "It will be a place to ask questions and get information about Mozilla plans."
The new group will explore key issues on a discussion list and in person as well as during monthly phone meetings, each of which will focus on a particular topic, Peters noted.
"In the past we've discussed topics like add-on management and security," she explained. "The next meeting we hold will discuss the release cycle and how enterprises can use Firefox in a way that fits into their own testing and release cycles."
Discussions will preserve participants' privacy so as "to facilitate open discussion of best practices and issues companies are facing," Peters added. Summaries of those discussions, however, will be made public.
An Encouraging Development
Google's Chrome browser, of course, is on a similarly rapid release schedule, leading more than a few critics of Firefox's new timetable to suggest that Internet Explorer is now the best option for enterprises. Given that browser's track record on security and numerous other problems, however, I can't agree.
Rather, Mozilla's latest move is an encouraging development for any company wrestling with the new pace of browser releases. Now, there's an established place to keep up-to-date and have your say. Solutions won't be far behind.