I have already told you that Mozilla plans to release Firefox 5.0, Firefox 6.0 and Firefox 7.0 by the end of 2011, following the acceleration of its release schedule per the Google Chrome model.
Now that Firefox 4.0 has been all but wrapped up, RC1 will become Final and be served to users starting with March 22nd, 2011, Mozilla is already looking to the next major version of its open source browser.
Mozilla’s Robert Sayre published a draft of the new rapid release process for Firefox, Which the open source browser vendor wants to embark on after shipping version 4.0 next week.
Now, I must underline that Mozilla has yet to embrace a new development process for Firefox fully, and that changes to the current draft can still be introduced.
But if this won’t be the case, users could see major versions of Firefox being shipped once every two months or even sooner instead of waiting over a year for a new iteration.
“Under this system, there is a choice to ship a general Firefox release at week 16 and every six weeks thereafter. That doesn't mean a release will happen every six weeks, but the option will be available,” Sayre stated.
Only Firefox 5.0 would need to cook for a full six weeks after 4.0 hits general availability before it will be released.
Firefox 6.0 would just take another six weeks to deliver. And Firefox 7.0 could be offered just six weeks later. And so on and so forth.
Post-Firefox 4.0 releases would be developed in 4 stages and offered to testers through just as many channels: mozilla-central (or "nightly"), firefox-experimental, firefox-beta, and Firefox (release).
“Some features might need three cycles (18 weeks) on mozilla-central before they're ready. Since mozilla-central will be pulled into the firefox-experimental channel at week 6 and week 12, such features will need to have a mechanism allowing them to be easily disabled,” Sayre explained.
“Essentially, it needs to be easy to get the code on mozilla-central into a shippable state by disabling new code.”
This could mean that Firefox 5.0 will be available as soon as July 2011, and with Firefox 6.0 planned for just six weeks later, followed by new releases less than two apart, end users might end up upgrading Firefox quite a lot by the end of 2011.
Firefox 4.0 Release Candidate (RC1) for Windows is available for download here.
Firefox 4.0 Release Candidate (RC1) for Linux is available for download here.
Firefox 4.0 Release Candidate (RC1) for Mac is available for download here.
Firefox 3.6.15 and Firefox 3.5.17 for Windows are available for download here.