Don't blink: Firefox 6 is out now

Mozilla continues its hell-bent pace of rapid releases, with Firefox 6 due to hit stands on Tuesday. You can download and test it now

Back in March, Mozilla promised a new version of Firefox every 16 weeks. It's trying to keep up with the Joneses (and the Googles) by pushing out bits at a furious pace.

Firefox 4 shipped March 22.

Firefox 5 shipped June 21, or 12 weeks later.

Firefox 6 will ship Aug. 16, or eight weeks after version 5.

If the current rate continues, Firefox 11 will ship before version 10.

That's the bad news. The good news is that you can run out and snag a final copy of Firefox 6 right now, if you want to test it before it's pushed to the masses. The Firefox FTP server holds Linux, Mac, and Windows versions, localized into nearly 100 languages. The whole crop has been available all weekend, even though Mozilla says what's available is not final. (So why is it available publicly? Mozilla either has awful security or wants to have its cake and eat it too in terms of getting users to update quickly.)

On Tuesday, expect the download site to turn from version 5.0.1 to version 6.0. Mozilla's infamous silent upgrades should kick in shortly thereafter.

Are the Firefox folks sacrificing quality for fast turnaround? The evidence so far is inconclusive. Firefox 5.0.1 -- the one and only update to version 5.0 -- shipped on July 12, three weeks after Firefox 5.0 hit. Version 5.0.1 didn't have many changes. I've heard lots of complaints about Firefox 5 compatibility issues, but on closer examination most of the problems are due to add-ins that didn't evolve quickly enough. It remains to be seen if Firefox 6 will catch add-in manufacturers flat-footed as well.

Version 6 first went into beta on July 8, sailing through beta testing in five weeks flat. That's impressive -- if the final product doesn 't fall over.

The Release Notes for Version 6 don't hold any surprises -- or major changes: a minor tweak to the address bar, changes to make Firefox Sync easier to find, a new Web Developer menu, and a half-dozen programmability improvements.

Mozilla brought back its Enterprise User Working Group less than a month ago, in no small part as damage control following Firefox product manager Asa Dotzler's infamous comment on Mike Kaply's blog: "[Y]ou do realize that we get about 2 million Firefox downloads per day from regular user types, right? ... 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 [enterprise environments.] A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy."

No word yet on whether the members of the Enterprise User Working Group are happy.

This article, "Don't blink: Firefox 6 is out now," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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