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Mozilla to drop Firefox version number, sparks backlash

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 17, 2011
Will drop identifying label from 'About Firefox' dialog box.

Earlier in the mozilla.dev.usability discussion group, Dotzler noted that users will still be able to find the version number of Firefox by calling up "Troubleshooting Information" from the browser's Help menu. And at times he applauded alternate ideas, including showing the version number in About when Firefox was unable to update itself.

The idea of downplaying Firefox's version number isn't new. Months ago, shortly after its shift to a rapid-release schedule that pushes out a new edition every six weeks, Mozilla said it would deemphasize the number for a more generic "Firefox" label.

It's done that in places on its website, including where users download the preview beta and Aurora builds of the browser: That page has omitted version numbers for some time.

And the overall strategy is consistent with the practice of some rivals, notably Google's Chrome. Although that browser identifies the current version number in its About dialog box, Google usually refers to the application as simply "Chrome," sans a number.

Like Mozilla, Google introduces a new version of its browser every few weeks.

It's unclear when Firefox will eliminate the version number from About, in part because Mozilla's faster release cadence doesn't rely on specific improvements in each edition, but adds them as they're completed.

On a page dedicated to under-development Firefox features, the change is tagged with a priority label of "P1," the highest possible. In another location, however, where Mozilla tracks new features by Firefox edition, the About change doesn't appear.

Mozilla released Firefox 6 Tuesday, and has Firefox 7, 8 and 9 slated to ship Sept. 27, Nov. 8 and Dec. 20, respectively.

 

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