Mozilla is changing the Firefox update strategy. The new plans include to integrate new features also into security updates. This way, functionality gets added to the browser more quickly. The project Firefox 3.7 is discontinued, while Firefox 3.6 will ship tomorrow.
Up to now, it was not common to integrate new features into Firefox with security updates. These updates were only meant to close security holes, and sometimes they optimized the browser’s stability. That is going to change: Changes in the browser’s internals will be distributed as well by means of security updates, Mozilla’s Director for Firefox Mike Beltzner told the magazine Computerworld.com.
While security updates ship every four to six weeks on average, new Firefox major releases only take place once or twice per year. That’s why new features cannot get integrated into the browser as fast as you would like to. The Firefox creators want to change this now, mainly avoiding time-consuming Beta versions.
Electrolysis Likely to Ship With a Security Update
Beltzner talked about one example: the project Electrolysis, which is going to spread browser components to separate processes for a higher stability. If a browser tab crashes due to a website, the other opened tabs can still be used without problems. A similar technics is used in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
Electrolysis will also move plug-ins to their own processes. This way, the browser would continue to run when a plug-in crashes. According to Beltzner’s statement, Adobe Flash is the plug-in that crashes Firefox most. Such internal engine changes can be done with Firefox security updates, as nothing changes for neither plug-in developers nor for site owners. On the user’s side, the changelog does not get too big.
Firefox 3.7 Not Planned Anymore
Along with the changed update strategy, the work on Firefox 3.7 is frozen and will be discontinued. Mozilla’s planning is to get a new major Firefox version done by late 2010 or early 2011. It is undetermined which version number it will have.
On Monday, the second Release Candidate for Firefox 3.6 has been released. The final update will be published tomorrow, on 21 January 2010. Betzner has recorded a video summarizing the most important changes in Firefox 3.6.
Changes in Firefox 3.6 include native video playback according to the HTML5 specification. Personas, Mozilla’s new easy theming engine, has been integrated into the Firefox Core as well.