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25 September 2012, 10:09

Next Firefox ESR release planned

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Mozilla icon Enterprise users of Firefox should get ready for the next cycle of Firefox ESR, which will begin on 20 November 2012. The Mozilla developers have clarified their plans for the next release of Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), the version designed for enterprises and other organisations that require a stable qualified version of the browser for inhouse deployment.

The process, as designed, sees a Firefox ESR release being cloned from the mainstream version of Firefox at a particular point in time, in this case the release of Firefox 17 at the end of November, to create Firefox ESR 17. Then, over the next two cycles of mainstream Firefox development, Firefox ESR is tested and bugs fixed in it creating versions 17.0.1 (alongside Firefox 18 on 8 January 2013) and 17.0.2 (alongside Firefox 19 on 19 February 2013).

Firefox ESR schedule
Zoom How Firefox ESR branches from the mainstream Firefox

Source: Mozilla
The 17.0.2 release will be regarded as the qualified version, as users will have had 12 weeks to test it. It's at this point that Mozilla plans to start migrating users from Firefox ESR 10. The organisation's original plans, detailed on the subscriber-only Mozilla Enterprise mailing list, was to automatically migrate users of ESR 10 to mainline Firefox 19 on the grounds that if they had not been updated to Firefox ESR 17 at that point, they would be better on the standard version of Firefox.

This plan was promptly protested by a number of users, and Mozilla reworked its plans so that the automatic migration of ESR 10 users would now be to ESR 17.0.2. They did ask, though, that users who were automatically updated like this, consider whether they shouldn't actually be using the mainstream Firefox as it "benefits from new features and functionality, very rarely disrupting user experience or workflow". In terms of stability, the developers noted that they had had only "one unplanned update to Firefox users in the last 7 months".

Thunderbird ESR 17 will be developed on a similar timescale, but unless current plans change, there will be no more mainstream updates of Thunderbird after the release of 17.

The dates given by the enterprise developers at Mozilla reflect another schedule change. Firefox 18 was due to land on the last day of the year, but Mozilla has announced that this will now be pushed out by a week to allow Mozilla employees to enjoy Christmas. This also means an extra week of support for Firefox 17 before the Mozillans return to their normal six-week release cycle. The current schedule for releases is available on the RapidRelease calendar.


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