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Mozilla Firefox in 2012

firefoxFrom the 'Open Source Browser Goodness' files:

2012 was one of the busiest year's ever for the Mozilla's Firefox project. This is the first full year for Mozilla's rapid release cycle which debuted in 2011. I have to admit that last year I was among those that didn't think that the new cycle would work, but after 2012 it's clear that the rapid release system can work extremely well.

During 2012 Mozilla landed a staggering 7 major version releases of Firefox.

Firefox 10

The first Firefox release of 2012 was Firefox 10, which debuted at the end of January. From my perspective, the most interesting addition in that release was the Inspect Tool which in my daily usage has now replaced my usage of 'view source'.

Firefox 10 was also an important release as it is the basis for Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), which is what enterprises can rely on for stability. Over the course of 2012 Firefox 10 ESR issued multiple security point updates, but nothing that broke any compatability.

Firefox 11

Firefox 11 came out in March and once again provided a pile of developer focused features. The one that still amazes me is the 3D Tool view.

Firefox 12

The Firefox 12 releasein April, marked the beginning of a new era for Firefox. Firefox 12 is the first to include silent updating, enabling browser updates without user interaction (if the user so chooses).

Firefox 13

Firefox 13 was released in June and finally provided a new tab page. So instead of simply getting a blank page, from Firefox 13 onwards, Mozilla users now get a new tab page that show most frequently accessed pages. Firefox 13 also provides support for the SPDY protocol, enabling faster web connections.



Firefox 14

In July, Firefox 14 was released, providing users with secure SSL encrypted HTTPS connections for Google searches.

SSL overall got a boost with this release by way of the improved Site Identity Indicator. With the indicator, Mozilla made it easier for users to know if a site is using SSL or not.

Firefox 15

Firefox 15 was releasedin August, with the core aim of improving browser performance.

At the time of release, Mozilla developers claimed that Firefox 15 was a 4.8x memory improvement over Firefox 14.

Firefox 16

Firefox 16in October turned the focus back on developer tools with a new developer toobar.

Firefox 17

The final Firefox release of the year was Firefox 17 in November. This release, perhaps more than any other during the calendar year, provided end-users with noticeable new features. Among them is the Social API and the direct integration of Facebook Messenger.

So yeah, that's a lot of release. Sure, in the old days (pre-2011) all of that would have been wrapped up in to one or two releases, but the incremental performance, standards and developer gains of the rapid release cycle are more than worth the trouble right?

Looking out to 2013, Mozilla has Firefox 18 scheduled for the first week of the year, so there is clearly no slowing down this train.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.