OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPER Mozilla is hatching plans to move Firefox 3.5 users onto the latest version of the web browser.
Mozilla, which recently saw Firefox 4 surpass 150 million downloads, is in the midst of working out a plan to get users off Firefox 3.5. According to the software outfit, at least 12 million users are still using the older version of the web browser. Mozzarella's team says they have been "frustrated with our efforts to move users off of old releases and are worried too many people do not upgrade and are on vulnerable and unsupported versions of Firefox".
Understandably, Mozilla cannot continue to keep patching Firefox 3.5 forever and, with a large number of users on versions that might present security risks, Mozilla needs to make a determined effort to get users onto supported versions of Firefox. While Firefox 4 is the natural choice, Mozilla also said that it will "settle for users being on the oldest supported [version] (Firefox 3.6.x)".
Mozilla is looking at a number of options to make casual web users aware of the latest version of Firefox, including putting little pointers on the customised Google home page that is loaded on Firefox installations. Other methods include a popup message and working with the press to get the word out.
Some of Mozilla's plans have already been implemented, with the Google homepage it puts up now urging Firefox 3.5 users to upgrade. The outfit has said that Firefox 3.5.19 will be the last update to the Firefox 3.5 track, however the next visible move will happen on 17 May when Mozilla will update its web sites pointing users to download the latest version. With this move, Mozilla hopes to bring the number of remaining Firefox 3.5 users down to four million.
As for getting that figure down to zero, Mozilla still has several options under consideration, however its preferred option is to release Firefox 3.6.18 on 21 June as a minor update to Firefox 3.5.19 and 3.6.17 users. However, Mozilla doesn't know whether this will be possible, as it depends on changes to the release automation that have yet to be fully specified.
Mozilla has enjoyed considerable success with Firefox 4, however as the outfit pushes out further releases, the way it shepherds users away from older versions is vital. If a large number of users are stuck on old versions of Firefox, not only will it increase any security attack audience but it will eat up the organisation's resources to patch older versions.
Firefox 3 users are strongly encouraged to make the move up to Firefox 4. The latest version of Firefox is not only better supported by Mozilla but it is considerably faster and natively supports the latest web standards. µ
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