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  • Firefox’s rapid release schedule harms bug-squashing efforts

    Mozilla has garnered unfriendly attention lately after a former volunteer criticized the group's slow responses to bug reports. The timing of the post and the resulting response from observers is notable: It all comes in the wake of Mozilla's "rapid release" initiative, through which the group has pledged to roll out an updated version of its Firefox browser every 16 weeks, possibly sans version number. Mozilla's decision to dramatically speed up its development cycle has met enough resistance to put the group's chair, Mitchell Baker, on the defensive.

    Further, the criticism of Mozilla's bug-handling procedures comes at a time when Firefox continues to lose both market share and credibility in the browser space. In terms of the latter, a recent report from NSS Labs (PDF) on browser security found that Firefox 4 caught only 7.6 percent of live socially engineered malware threats, far less than Internet Explorer 9, which snagged 99.2 percent, and behind Chrome, which detected 13.2 percent. Firefox's results were 11.4 percent lower than the 19 percent protection rate observed in the Q3 2010 global test, according to NSS, indicating an overall drop in protection for Firefox.

    The author of the now-controversial blog detailing Mozilla's bug-processing shortcomings was Tyler Downer, who stepped down as a Mozilla volunteer out of frustration. In a post dated Aug. 27, he wrote that while he supported the rapid release initiative, he was frustrated by the impact on how it affected the triage group -- that is, the people responsible for processing and confirming end user-submitted bug reports.

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