Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 7/1/2011 | 24 comments

Andrew Froehlich
Are your enterprise desktops and laptops running Firefox? If so, you might be interested to know that Mozilla doesn't care about you.

Do you feel a little hurt? Well, perhaps you should. Mike Kapley, a blogger who focuses on Web browsers, discussed how Mozilla is creating chaos in organizations with large browser deployments and rigorous testing requirements due to Mozilla's move to a "rapid-release" deployment system.

Mike's take is that enterprise IT departments have to spend a tremendous amount of time testing all the various applications that a company might run. And as we all have seen with our own eyes, every browser operates a little bit differently -- so differently, in fact, that many Web-based applications may run perfectly on one browser but cannot run at all on another browser brand or version. So a company's IT department is left with a choice: Either rewrite its software so it is compatible with more browsers, or stay on an older version of one browser, knowing full-well that the application will be left behind by users trying to use newer software and will be susceptible to security holes that will never be patched.

While some businesses do end up sticking with an old browser (thus causing the continued used of IE6), other companies are willing to spend money rewriting their applications to function with new browsers. The problem is, however, that major browser updates are happening far too rapidly for the enterprise to keep up with.

Think about this: Mozilla released Firefox version 4 in late March. Firefox 5, a major new release, was ready and available for download just three months later. Therefore, all that time spent testing on applications for version 4 was utterly wasted.

In response to Mr. Kapley's blog, Asa Dotzler, founder of Mozilla’s Quality Assurance and Testing Program, made several comments regarding how he feels about enterprise users:

    Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them, I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about.


    A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy. I’d much rather Mozilla spend its limited resources looking out for the billions of users that don’t have enterprise support systems already taking care of them.

So it looks as if the folks over at Mozilla are following the same rapid deployment model Google follows with its Chrome browser. With Google, I can understand its desire to develop the fastest and most feature-rich browser. That's just who Google is. Mozilla, on the other hand doesn't necessarily have to go that route. Nevertheless, that's the direction it seems to be taking, which is disappointing to those of us in the enterprise.

It is worth noting that a few days later, Jay Sullivan, VP of products at Mozilla, issued a statement. One of his points regarding the enterprise issue was:

    A key challenge for enterprises is that they need to certify their websites, apps and add-ons each time Firefox is updated. This can take weeks or months. Security is also paramount, enterprises need access to a version that includes all known security fixes. We are exploring solutions that balance these needs, with active discussion in our community. Open Source software is well-suited to these challenges, as interested parties can come together to build what is needed.

That being said, it seems Mozilla doesn't yet have an answer for the enterprise. That makes for a nice little void in the browser field that needs to be filled. Large businesses aren't looking for the fastest, or most feature-rich browsers. They're looking for ones that are secure, stable, and have highly predictable update cycles. Some might say that Microsoft fills that void, but with recent indications that Microsoft will soon be moving to IE 10, it looks as if a new vendor might have to step in to develop an enterprise-class browser that isn't a constantly moving target.

So what do you think? Do the comments made by Mozilla leaders regarding their lack of interest in supporting the enterprise make you think twice about your Firefox use? Let us know!

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Broadway   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/5/2011 10:11:34 PM
Re: 4.1 or 5.0?
@MS, I agree ... putting out 5.0 so soon after 4.0 seems done for publicity, almost like a lame "look what we can do" stunt. The arrogance in the first Mozilla source's quotes also shines through quite clear, and I think it extends not just to enterprise users but also to the everyday individual users that supposedly the firm seeks to serve. I think that helps explain why Firefox has moved from freeware to bloatware...
MS.Akkineni   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/5/2011 2:39:49 PM
Waste of Time & Resources...
Mike Kapley, a blogger who focuses on Web browsers, discussed how Mozilla is creating chaos in organizations with large browser deployments and rigorous testing requirements due to Mozilla's move to a "rapid-release" deployment system.

No doubt that it is real chaos if we think about testing web applications. There is no way for an IT team to not test on any versions of the browser that's either used or available in their enterprise, only to find out in few months that the whole process needs to be repeated since a newer browser version is released. No fun doing this and i hope it would get better for an enterprise.
MS.Akkineni   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/5/2011 2:29:46 PM
Re: 4.1 or 5.0?
Even as a personal user, I don't really like Firefox putting out 5.0 so soon after 4.0. Seems utterly pointless, a marketing trick, and potentially confusing.

I can't agree more with you about this.

Not just disliking, it's quite annoying.
MS.Akkineni   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/5/2011 2:26:12 PM
No Good..
Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. ...

Very disturbing statement from Mozilla. That explains why it has never been a proper fit for enterprise world for all these years. It was never intended by Mozarilla itself.

And that ofcourse is a big big advantage for Microsft to lead its way into enterprise world and it's proved over years that undoubtedly IE is an enterprise's most favoured browser. We all know why.
SaneIT   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/5/2011 8:15:44 AM
Long term support is important, but where do we make the cut?  Older versions of IE are still alive and kicking and as TinyM pointed out the standard for web sites and apps built ater the release of newer versions.  This fragmentation makes standardizing on any browers a pain and now you have more companies worrying about multiple OSes and mobile OSes when they're rolling out their technical solutions.  When do you call a browser dead and remove it from life support?  How much longer should a browser like IE6 be allowed to linger?
Rowan   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/4/2011 8:24:12 PM
Re: 4.1 or 5.0?
It kinda reminds me of an old game that released their first version to stores, then the next version, a year or two later, was "5.0". Why? They were counting their three patches as 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. Yeesh.

Even as a personal user, I don't really like Firefox putting out 5.0 so soon after 4.0. Seems utterly pointless, a marketing trick, and potentially confusing. That is of course massively exacerbated at an enterprise level.
zerox203   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/4/2011 6:00:33 PM
Re: 4.1 or 5.0?
The point that David made also occured to me as I was reading this post. Even if they're releasing 'major' updates at twice the pace (or greater), I can't imagine that they've actually doubled their staff or budget to make it happen. It seems more likely that they're just numbering their smaller updates to make them seem like bigger deals, or that it's a sort of middle ground - where they are ramping up the speed of development, but still slightly exaggerating the richness of each new version to make their progress seem that much quicker.

That being said, I understand that a new version number in itself might be enough to send the deployment red tape flying all over the place, whether we want it to or not. There are rules in place for adopting new versions of software, and we may not be able to change them just because Firefox changes theirs.
vnewman   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/4/2011 12:29:04 PM
Re: Likely effect
"Do the comments made by Mozilla leaders regarding their lack of interest in supporting the enterprise make you think twice about your Firefox use?"

I've never wanted to use Firefox in the firm for this very reason - but the users started coming to us in droves asking for Firefox because they love it on their home systems - which is exactly where it belongs - on home systems.

Statements like these give me the type of ammunition I've been waiting for over the last 5 years.  "Sorry, we don't support Firefox in house because Firefox doesn't support the enterprise."

I've said this before - to me, the product is only as good as its level of support.  
Umair Ahmed   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/4/2011 8:22:56 AM
Likely effect

“Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them”


I think, If Mozilla keeps releasing newer versions too often then Firefox will be the least preferred browser for any enterprise. Web developers, application developers & enterprise administrators would get biased against the Firefox & this would result in the negative publicity, particularly word of mouth. Currently the enterprise is not the focus of Firefox development team, but this behavior may also significantly effect their non-enterprise users. 

CMTucker   Firefox Doesn't Care About the Enterprise   7/4/2011 6:04:08 AM
Re: Browser Lag
Here's my two cents on this: Businesses have to increase profit each quarter. When their is a compelling reason to adopt new software, the upgrades make sense. Like new integration (Adobe Premiere to CS); or new feature sets (tabbed browsers). But when the next "latest and greatest" is just the former not the latter it kills the rest of us who have to use the software. 

If there was less of a focus on wringing profit from those you have by the *ahem* and more of a focus on R&D then each "upgrade" would truly be that.

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