Mozilla offers Firefox 6.0: Boon, bane or pain?

Mozilla is now offering Firefox 6.0, a mere two months after Firefox 5.0, could give the enterprise some headaches.

Mozilla has released Firefox 6.0, barely two months after the previous version of the popular browser hit the Web.

The latest release is available via Mozillas Website. The organization also moved Firefox 7 to beta, according to a posting on the MozillaWiki. Mozilla is keeping this release a low-key affair, as befitting a browser update thats mostly tweaks to compatibility and performance, including reduced startup times and some new highlighting in the address bar. Aside from the latter, noticeable changes to the user interface are pretty much nonexistent.

This newest version arrives a mere two months after Firefox 5, which itself debuted some three months after Firefox 4 entered the marketplace. This could be a response to aggressive posturing by rivals such as Google Chrome.

For consumers, upgrading most likely wont represent that much of a hassle: They click download, and a few minutes later (depending on your connection speed), theyre tooling around with a new browser. Larger enterprises, though, have expressed a bit more concern about this rapid cadence, with IT administrators claiming it snarls their ability to deploy the browser throughout their organizations in a timely and consistent way.

I have 500,000 users on Firefox 3.6, read a much-circulated comment by IBMs John Walicki on a June 21 blog posting by Firefox developer and consultant Michael Kaply. Im now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x.

A debate quickly erupted from there, with one Mozilla coordinator insisting in Kaplys blog comments that, Enterprise has never been (and Ill argue, shouldnt be) a focus of ours. Mozillas rivals then leapt into the fray, with one Microsoft executive taking to the blogs to tout Internet Explorers commitment to corporate customers. It had all the markings of the sort of public-relations snafu that organizations pay lots of money to lots of people to avoid.

Enterprises are built of people, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs tweeted June 28, and Mozilla is fundamentally about people. We support Firefox users wherever they are.

Mozillas method for extinguishing the fire turned out to be very publicly re-establishing a Mozilla Enterprise User Working Group as a place, in the words of a July 19 post on The Mozilla Blog, for enterprise developers, IT staff and Firefox developers to discuss the challenges, ideas and best practices for deploying Firefox in the enterprise.

Whether that group proves effective for enterprise IT pros, the latter could certainly have its collective hands full with Firefoxs new release schedule.

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