Problems tend to stay problems because they are not dealt with, not because they are not recognized. That is something that, as a young person, I did not always understand. For example, the problems with the numbers of people upgrading their working copies of the Firefox browser has little to do with the fact that the people using it are lazy, or that they don’t know that it should be done. The problem lies in the fact that in many cases, the changes brought are not welcomed by those users.

There are many who simply don’t like the way the browser is changing. They, unfortunately, must be written off, as they will likely not be changed by logical argument. Others, which would have, for a very long time, included me, do not like the fact that changing the browser invalidates the use of many extensions, plug-ins, or whatever you wish to call them. The fact is that when things you have become accustomed to no longer work, you get at the very least annoyed.

The guiding forces at Mozilla have been aware of that for some time, for other articles have pointed that out. Those who do the guiding don’t care, as they see keeping a standard methods of having extensions interface with the browser doesn’t seem to be a core value. That is precisely why I quit using the browser. Others have done the same thing, and for each user, there comes a time when the annoyance outweighs the usefulness.

An article on the PC Magazine site tells us that Mozilla is once again taking up the concern that comes and goes as a contention point –

Mozilla is rightly concerned that users upgrade promptly after new versions of Firefox are released, and a user survey has revealed why they don’t.

The Mozilla Blog of Metrics has issued #4 in a series Why People Don’t Upgrade Their Browser. The new versions of Firefox are invariably more secure than the older ones, and so Mozilla has begun to study user reactions and survey users for their reasoning.

A few weeks ago, Firefox 3 users received a warning that their browser was about to reach the end of its support life:

[graphic stating EOL was near]

Users who clicked “No thanks” on the warning were directed to a survey and Mozilla got 40,000 responses. The majority said they were not upgrading to 3.6 because they were happy with version 3. A significant number said they didn’t have time to upgrade, which is a shame since it takes very little time. Mozilla will address this in the future by stressing in the upgrade notice that the process is “relatively quick and painless.”

The second question asked for any thoughts the user had about why they weren’t upgrading. More than a third were concerned about compatibility problems with web sites, plugins, etc., and this is a fair point as it has been with every new major version of Firefox. Fewer users complained about stability and performance than in previous versions of the survey.

The time issue and complaints of “too many updates” are definitely a problem, but one I think can be best addressed through education; updates are necessary and not a burdensome task.

People that use computers in today’s world will have to become accustomed to update cycles, but I think a change in thought is needed from the major players in the FOSS arena. If there is a security update involved that cannot be easily mitigated with simple changes, then perhaps a forced major upgrade is necessary. Otherwise, it should not be forced. FOSS was supposed to be guided by the will of the many, and not by commercial concerns. This is why Chrome is doing so well, in my opinion. The development is not a “me too” effort. The designers know what they want, and are sticking to it. Mozilla seems to have lost its way.

There will always be those who like things to be stable. Change viewed as for the sake of change is usually not welcomed.

A person responding in comments stated that

Two problems with Firefox updates. First, as mentioned, many add-ins, extensions…etc. do not work with the updated version. Secondly, it seems that each version of Firefox takes longer to load than the previous one. If they are going to produce updates, start with that. Also, please get rid of the annoying messages that appear whenever I click on an Outlook email URL link. Every time there is an updated version, I have to edit 4 registry entries to get rid of this. Please fix this in Firefox installation program, once and for all.

There were a few variations on this, but most had a combination of one or more of these things as a complaint. Since these three things continue to be a problem for the vocal many, we must rightly assume that they are something that is a problem for the greater number who do not bother to respond (many thinking that their thoughts have already been expressed by others).

I would think that these would be the things that should be Job #1 (as the Ford commercials used to point out) for the developers. Not more speed, not a new and different look. Those who wish only for speed will migrate to Chrome, or one of its siblings. There will be no way to stop it, for it is clear that speed is Job #1 at those projects.

Firefox made its name on security and expandability (with a major point that the Lego add-in approach made it easy for each user to have a version of the browser that could be like no one else’s). That must be what guides the developers, or else they should simply drop the code base, and pick up a copy of WebKit and go from there. The average Firefox user did not begin to use the browser because they wanted a “me too” effort.

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