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26 March 2012, 10:51

Firefox 3.6.x approaches end of life

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Firefox logo The Mozilla Project has announced that, following more than two years of support, the 3.6.x branch of its open source Firefox web browser will reach its end of life on Tuesday 24 April. This means that, from that date onwards, no new updates, including security updates and critical fixes, will be released for Firefox 3.6.x. Mozilla Release Manager Alex Keybl says that "barring any major stability or security issues found over the next few weeks", version 3.6.28 from earlier this month will be the final 3.6.x release of Firefox.

Many 3.6 users have stayed on that version out of worries about Firefox's rapid release schedule. Mozilla has been addressing their concerns with the creation of the ESR branch of Firefox; the first ESR release arrived with Firefox 10 and should be fully qualified for enterprise use around the end of life of Firefox 3.6.

Code-named "Namoroka", Firefox 3.6 was released in January 2010 as a major update to the browser and was based on version 1.9.2 of the Gecko layout engine. It added a new alert system to warn users when their plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash, were out of date, and support for lightweight "skins", then called Personas – Mozilla recently renamed its BrowserID identity system to Persona and will be renaming Personas to "themes". Other changes included improvements to JavaScript performance, and support for new CSS, DOM and HTML5 web technologies such as the HTML5 File API.

At the same time Keybl also confirmed that the development team will be changing the "minimum supported Windows version" for Firefox. From version 13, Windows builds of Firefox will require Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later; previous versions required Windows 2000 or later. "We never change minimum requirements lightly, but this support change allows us to significantly improve Firefox performance on Windows by using a more modern build system," said Keybl.

For Windows 2000 users who can't upgrade their PC to a later release of the OS, Firefox community coordinator Asa Dotzler recommends the Opera web browser, noting that, "Moving to Opera means you'll not only get continued security updates, but you'll also be able to enjoy a modern browser experience."

All Firefox 3.6.x users are strongly advised to upgrade to a newer version. The current stable release of Firefox is version 11 from 13 March, while the latest "enterprise" extended support release (ESR) (Firefox ESR) is version 10.0.3.

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