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16 May 2011, 15:36

Mozilla moves to aggressively end Firefox 3.5's life

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Firefox Logo Mozilla has created a plan to aggressively end the life of Firefox 3.5 by using auto-update. According to Mozilla there are approximately 12 million people still using Firefox 3.5, despite numerous prompts through the default Firefox/Google search page, whatsnew and firstrun prompts and other broad hints to upgrade. Ideally, Mozilla would like to upgrade them to Firefox 4 or the forthcoming Firefox 5, but would be happy with them moving to the latest Firefox 3.6.

The current plan aims to see Firefox 3.5 out of widespread use by the end of June by offering Firefox 3.6.18 to both Firefox 3.6.17 and 3.5.19 users on 21 June, the same day as Firefox 5 is to be released. The update will appear as a minor update so any user with auto-update enabled will see the new version downloaded ready for installation when the browser is restarted. This will be the first time that Mozilla has auto-updated users between major versions of the Firefox browser.

The implementation of this plan is dependent on bug 650030 for Mozilla release engineering – if the bug is resolved in time, the 3.6.18 release will then be pushed to all users with automatic updates enabled. If the bug is unresolved, Mozilla plans to fall back to advertising the release of Firefox 5 to all users, hoping they will update. A week later a message offering an update to Firefox 5 through the browser will appear, followed by an update to 3.6.18 to all remaining 3.5 users.

There are some users who will not be able to upgrade to Firefox 4, namely those with PowerPC-based machines or Mac OS X 10.4; support for those platforms ended after Firefox 3.6 and those users will be upgraded to 3.6.18 and no further. Mozilla believes 3.5 to 3.6 is ideal for automatic updating as it dropped no platforms between versions, more than 95 per cent of add-ons are compatible and there are "virtually no UI changes". Once users are updated to 3.6.18, they can expect to be prompted to update to Firefox 5.

Firefox 3.5 users can, of course, remove any worry about a June update by updating for Firefox 4.0.1 now at

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