Mozilla's switch to a rapid release cycle may have not gone well with Firefox fans, but it really messed with enterprise users who had adopted the open-source browser.These users would not be able to deploy a new version of Firefox every six weeks and would certainly not be able to test new releases at this rate.
Initially, Mozilla was reluctant about adjusting its release schedule to support these users, but the group has finally come up with a solution, long-term support releases, or Extended Support Release in Mozilla parlance.
"Mozilla will offer an Extended Support Release (ESR) based on official releases of Desktop Firefox. Releases will be maintained for seven release cycles (42 weeks), with point releases coinciding with regular Firefox releases," Mozilla wrote in a proposal.
None of this has been approved and Mozilla is asking those with stakes in the matter to submit their thoughts and feedback.
But if everything goes according to plan, Firefox 8 or Firefox 9 will be the first extended support release.
For example, if Firefox 8 is chosen, security updates will be issued for it until Firefox 15 is released, in late August next year. Only vulnerabilities labeled as Critical and High are guaranteed to be patched, though some less important ones may be as well.
"To permit organizations sufficient time for testing and certification, the ESR will have a two cycle (12 week) overlap between the time of a new release and the end-of-life of the previous release," Mozilla explained.
"This will allow organizations to qualify and test against Aurora and Beta builds for twelve weeks leading up to the ESR, and an additional 12 weeks to certify and transition to a new ESR," it added.
A new Firefox coming out once a year could be a lot easier to maintain by enterprises, schools and so on. While it's just a proposal, the plan has a high likelihood of becoming real.
In case you were wondering, Firefox 3.6 will continue to be supported for another 12 weeks after the first ESR to enable those still using it to test the new Firefox and transition to it.