Firefox 3.5: What’s in a Browser Number?

Netstat -vat by Sean Michael Kerner (bio)

A command line view of IT

From the “tomAYto, tomAHto” files:

At the end of February, I wrote about Mozilla developers calling for Firefox 3.1 to be renamed Firefox 3.5. It’s now official, so the next Firefox new version release will be Firefox 3.5.

Firefox 3.1 is currently at Beta 2 with a third Beta coming as soon as this week.

The reasons for moving the name from Firefox 3.1 to 3.5 are relatively simply. The release has taken more time than initially expected and the release contains more significant features than a simple x.1 release would normally indicate.

However, the jump to Firefox 3.5 doesn’t mean that Mozilla is now adding more into what was known as Firefox 3.1.

“It’s important to note that 3.5 represents a better labeling of our *current* scope, and not an indication that we intend to significantly increase this release’s scope any further,” Mozilla’s Mike Shaver wrote in a mailing list posting. “Beta 3 will be the last milestone release with the 3.1 version number, and Firefox 3.5b4 will be the following one.”

A jump from a x.1 to an x.5 release has historical precedent at Mozilla — the same thing happened with the Firefox 1.1/1.5 release in 2005. The general idea is that a bigger number signifies a bigger change to users. With a new JavaScript engine in place, Firefox 3.1/3.5 is a big change.

Frankly, I’m not sure why it wasn’t labeled 3.5 (or perhaps even Firefox 4) earlier.

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