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Former Mozilla developer says 'rapid releases killed Firefox's reputation' (Updated)

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Former Firefox developer Jono DiCarlo explains the company's missteps while trying to keep up with Google Chrome.

Firefox Logo Closeup
Firefox Logo Closeup

Software updates may be an inconvenience, but with something as dynamic as a web browser, constant upgrades are more of a necessity than an option. Firefox, for example, has recently been subject to a number of revisions that former Firefox developer Jono DiCarlo feels is doing more harm to the platform than good. DiCarlo explains that once someone finds out that he works for Mozilla it isn't uncommon for him to hear complaints about the browser's constant updates, with users pointing out broken add-ons and intrusive dialogue boxes as a result.

While he states that the company's efforts are to stay competitive with Google's browser, he admits that the actual problem is in Mozilla's execution, and that "by doing rapid releases poorly, we just made Firefox look like an inferior version of Chrome." Recent reports have actually revealed that Chrome adoption is increasing at around the same rate the Firefox usage has dropped over the last year. DiCarlo made sure to point out that the update process has improved, but fears that it may be too late, stating that "People who got fed up and ditched Firefox are going to be hard to win back."

Update: An earlier version of this post did not clarify that DiCarlo was a former, not a current, Mozilla employee. We regret the error. Furthermore, Mozilla has reached out with an official response:

Jono's analysis is interesting, but outdated. Regular Firefox updates are good news for users and for the Web but only when they don't interrupt what you're doing. Today's Firefox updates are applied in the background with no interruptions; they even keep your Firefox Add-ons compatible between releases. The result is that our users always have a fast, beautiful and secure browsing experience. Regular releases also let us get new features to our users faster than ever before, and we can listen to their feedback to improve things, just as we did with updates in 2011."