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15 January 2010, 18:20

Mozilla drops Firefox 3.7, switches to "Feature Updates"

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Firefox Logo Mozilla's Mike Beltzner has said that after Firefox 3.6, there will be no Firefox 3.7. Instead regular "feature updates" will be pushed to users. The plan to change how updates to Firefox are managed was disclosed in an interview with Computerworld. The original plan was to have a Firefox 3.6 release early in 2010, and a Firefox 3.7 release mid-summer, but Beltzner, director of Firefox development, now says that the experience of developing Firefox 3.6 taught the developers what slowed down their schedules. Based on this, there will be the imminent release of Firefox 3.6, followed by "minor updates" which will be pushed to users as part of the 4-6 week cycle of security updates.

The first planned updated is named "Lorentz" and it implements a subset of the Mozilla "Electrolysis" project which is bringing process isolation to Firefox. The "Lorentz" update will add plug-in isolation for specific plug-ins; Adobe's Flash is the leading candidate for the "Lorentz" treatment. With this update, if the Flash plug-in crashes, it will be isolated to it's own process and will not crash the browser. Beltzner says "This will be a huge advantage to users. We were thinking earlier that the first time we would be able to add [plug-in process separation] would be in 3.7". The update would have "no effect on Web compatibility or add-on compatibility" says Beltner, "So we thought 'Why not deliver it as part of a minor update?". However, in the future, changes that require external testing would only be implemented in new major versions, so the planned new interface for Firefox on Windows would only appear in a major release such as Firefox 4.0 and would go through the normal beta testing process.

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