On Firefox Update Policy and Enterprises

Ars has a long, but definitely worthwhile read addressing the recent kerfuffle about Mozilla’s new Firefox product lifecycle and enterprise readiness.

Firefox update policy: the enterprise is wrong, not Mozilla

For its part, Mozilla seems committed to matching the pace of innovation set by Google Chrome, even at the risk of angering its enterprise deployments.

All the while, Google is pushing into enterprises with Chromebooks, which aim to solve a lot of enterprise problems.

The good news is that many people run more than one browser anyway, having learned long ago that modern browsers lead to a better web experience, and it’s not that big a deal if you have to run IE 6 once a month to access that internal app.

As users self-educate themselves and choose to use multiple browsers, maybe IT can focus on other things, like updating those custom web apps that require IE 6.




  1. What we need is a stable fast and special browser with its own distinguishing features(in my opinion Avant browser is such a browser,),not a browser who just update its version number rapidly in order to catch up the version numbers of other browsers. It makes no sense to do this and just make users to reduce the trust in you. What you seek is the surface  things not the substantial function. How ironic you are as a big browser.

  2. Avant is only available on Windows, since it uses IE’s Trident rendering engine. So, that won’t work for many of us. Looking at Avant’s site, it’s a laundry list of features, not really any distinguishing ones. 

    Chrome has been advancing “substantial function”, specifically introducing sandboxing, making Flash a first-class citizen of the browser, increasing HTML5 support and adoption and most notably making rendering faster. There are others too. Chrome has driven Firefox and IE to innovate, which has benefited everyone, even Avant, which now has a modern rendering engine to use.

  3. The issue goes well beyond web browsers (I know of at least one company that prohibits use of any Adobe Acrobat product unless a definite business need can be demonstrated), and in fact well beyond software (early versions of the iPhone were often not authorized for corporate use, though that has changed).

    Cost reduction will continue to be an enterprise goal, and the perception is that costs can be reduced by limiting the number of support products in the enterprise – for example, if Mozilla “changes too much,” then prevent Mozilla from being loaded on corporate computers.

    I see this from both sides – as an employee, I have been faced with various IT restrictions (as I’ve previously stated, as of March 2009 the only approved browser at Motorola was IE6). At the same time, as a company that sells software to government agencies, we need to make sure that we conform to each agency’s internal IT requirements. If the agency has standardized on SQL Server as its database program and does not allow exceptions, then either we have to port our software from Oracle Database 11g or no-bid.

    The one advantage of near-monopoly situations (“everyone uses Windows XP,” “everyone uses IE6,” “everyone searches with Google”) is that there is a perceived reduction in costs for all people providing for the platforms in question. Of course this is offset by the increased costs due to lack of innovation, but in many cases perception is reality.

  4. Sure, I know it’s a much broader IT problem. Near-monopoly status is only good on top of proprietary standards. The web is not a proprietary standard; it’s an open one. Developing web apps for a single browser is lazy, but honestly, corporate web apps will never be built the way consumer web apps are built bc of cost.

    IT has an easy out here that is cheap, deploy multiple browsers. It’s simple. Keep one for all the old business apps that haven’t been updated, and loosely support a modern one. Instruct users on which to use when and let them install new versions if they want, on an unsupported basis.

  5. For a company this new RAD strategy at Mozilla would make it very difficult to justify the investment in time and money installing and supporting a product where no one really is accountable for anything.

    As of today the only true enterprise product within the browsers realm is Microsoft. The only reason Linux has made it inside the enterprise is because companies like Red Hat, IBM, Oracle, etc stand behind it with support and resources, otherwise it would be another interesting project with potential.

    Perhaps it is time to create an unbreakable Firefox?

  6. So maybe enterprises need to accept one “long term support” browser for internal applications with another “latest security” for external sites. 

  7. I really think the support costs of a browser are overestimated by IT. It’s not the browser’s fault that internal apps aren’t up to snuff, and you can always deploy two browsers.

  8. Exactly what I suggested in reply to John. Users are mostly savvy enough to handle more than one browser and understand why they benefit from having more than one. Besides, all this hand-wringing about supporting browsers is a bit misleading. It’s the apps that IT refuses to update causing the problems, not the browsers.

    Fix the crappy web apps.

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