Mozilla’s Heartbeat & Quarterly Firefox OS Releases

Alex Keybl

Mozilla and the community have been on a roll creating new products and evolving existing ones. We now release multiple browsers across a multitude of platforms, including

  • Firefox – three desktop pre-release channels alongside our shipping version for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows (soon with a redesign)
  • Firefox for Android – compatible with thousands of phones and tablets, also shipping to four channels
  • Firefox ESR – sometimes with two supported releases overlapping at once

All of these products share a single platform, Gecko, and collectively release to hundreds of millions of users almost exactly every six weeks. Like a well-practiced choir, we synchronize our technical and organizational heartbeat around releases. This heartbeat enables us to push a unified vision across the entire web, keep our users regularly delighted with new (many times cross-platform) functionality, and prevent any one product from lagging behind in security updates.

You may have heard that we recently added a new product to the litter, Firefox OS. To put it bluntly, the project as a whole has been an incredible undertaking but we’ve finally pushed our v1.0 out the door with the help of our community and partners.

Unlike our desktop/mobile releases, we’ve had to do go even further than delighting our users. We’ve also had to juggle the timelines and requirements of all of the OEMs, carriers, and chipset manufacturers that we’ve partnered with. These new variables lead us to standardize on Gecko 18 for our first two major releases of Firefox OS. It made us “skip a beat”, but for all the right reasons.

Now that we have our v1.0 behind us and we’re moving forward with even more partners, we’re going to do our best to bring Firefox OS back into our heartbeat and will make quarterly feature releases available to partners along with six-weekly security updates for the previous two feature releases. As far as I know, that’s the most aggressive mobile OS release strategy out there (and may still require some tweaking).

This sort of alignment across multiple browser products, and now an OS, is unprecedented at the pace we’re moving. Keep it up, Mozillians.