Mozilla's Firefox is doomed. Caught between the immovable object of Microsoft Internet Explorer and the irresistible force of Google Chrome, the free open source community's poster child will soon be relegated to the ash heap of history.
At least that's my conclusion after sifting through the latest round of excuse-making and finger-pointing coming out of the Mozilla camp. Still laboring to deliver the long-overdue Firefox 3.6 release, Mozilla insiders are now talking about a major restructuring of the entire Firefox development process, leading some to question the organization's ability to maintain the browser's increasingly top-heavy code base.
Frankly, it's been a long time coming. Early popularity resulted in an avalanche of third-party extension development at a time when the browser's core architecture was still quite immature. This, in turn, led to much publicized delays and false starts as the development team struggled to keep the hodgepodge of fixes, patches, and structural Band-Aids that made up later versions of the Firefox code base all working together in harmony.
Now we hear that Mozilla is abandoning its traditional major release cycle model in favor of smaller, incremental changes that it will slipstream through security patches and other maintenance updates. Basically, Mozilla's developers are admitting that they can no longer deliver a fully baked and tested Firefox release in a timely fashion. So they're switching to an incremental model where they can deliver progress in more manageable chunks, thus bypassing the lengthy external beta/feedback process altogether.