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16 August 2011, 15:09

Mozilla plans to hide Firefox version numbers

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Firefox logo Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's community coordinator for Firefox, has announced that, in the future, users will not be shown what version of Firefox they are running. Instead, the browser will say when it checked for updates last, and if the browser was up to date when that check was made. This would mean users would, when connected to the internet, typically see "You are running the latest version". More detailed information would be available for troubleshooting purposes by entering about:support in the URL field or selecting "Help/Troubleshooting information".

The move is part of a project within Mozilla to "phase out version numbers". Participants in the Bugzilla discussion had little enthusiasm for the proposal. One critic said "This is a REALLY dumb, stupid, idiotic idea!", a comment to which Dotzler responded by threatening to remove the participant's Bugzilla posting privileges. Add-on developer Dave Garrett said of the About window "Even my mother knows this is where you look up what version of a program you're using. You're going up against established UX that spans much time and across OSes".

Dotzler responded in a newsgroup posting saying "after thinking about it, we concluded that most people don't need to know what version number they're using and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running the latest version". One comment on Bugzilla pointed out that people don't know the version number of Facebook or Twitter applications but others noted that those were centrally administered and updated web applications, not locally installed applications. Some also observed that Chrome, the originator of rapid release schedules for browsers, still displays its version number in the About box. The debate continues.


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