All of Xia's criticisms had been voiced before by others, including IT administrators responsible for supporting Firefox in large companies; their complaints drove Mozilla to create a business-oriented build, dubbed "Extended Support Release," or ESR, that keeps the UI and feature set static for over a year.
Some critics went as far as to accuse the company's decision-makers of arrogance, of essentially saying, "We know better," and refusing to reconsider the dramatic cadence shift.
Xia accused Mozilla of taking its users for granted. "[Software companies] start treating their users as pawns in a battle against some other company. Gotta copy everything the other company does, or risk falling behind. So they end up doing everything the other company does whether the users want it or not, and probably doing a crappy job to boot [emphasis in original]."
Atul Varma, whose LinkedIn account identifies him as a Mozilla engineer in the company's Lab group, echoed Xia's rebuke of rapid updates and aimed similar barbs at his employer.
"What most struck me ... was a complete lack of empathy for people who might want to 'stay where they were' and not upgrade to the latest version of our flagship product," Varma said on his own blog July 6. "Whenever someone asked a question like, 'What if the user wants to stay on the old version of Firefox?' the response was unequivocally that said user must be delusional: No one should ever want to stay on an old version of a product."
Mozilla reacted to Xia's and Varma's criticisms both officially and unofficially.
"Jono's analysis is interesting, but outdated," the company said in a statement issued to The Verge last week. "Today's Firefox updates are applied in the background with no interruptions; they even keep your Firefox add-ons compatible between releases."
In that statement, Mozilla also repeated the argument it's used since it began considering a shorter release cycle -- that more frequent updates provide new features faster, as they're added upon completion rather than held until the next major upgrade. In the past, major upgrades were shipped about once a year.
Johnathan Nightingale, director of Firefox engineering, used his personal blog to also respond, denying that Mozilla takes its users for granted, as Xia claimed.
"Nonsense. I don't know how else to say it," said Nightingale about the charge. "In a very literal way, it just doesn't make sense for a non-profit organization devoted to user choice and empowerment on the Web to take users for granted. The impact of these changes on our users was a topic of daily conversation, and indeed, clearly, remains one."
Nightingale did acknowledge that the shift to a faster cadence would have gone down better with users if Mozilla had streamlined the process from the start. Instead, Mozilla built a silent update mechanism piecemeal, starting in January 2012 -- more than half a year after the rapid release began -- and putting the last major component into place in April. (The final bits of silent updating are now slated to ship with Firefox 15 and Firefox 17, the editions that will debut in August and November.)