Support for Mozilla Firefox 1.5 Extended Until Mid-May
Tuesday April 24th, 2007
On the day that support for Mozilla Firefox 1.5 was scheduled to end, an announcement has been posted on the Mozilla Developer News weblog stating that support for Firefox 1.5 has been extended until mid-May.
Once support for Firefox 1.5 ends, no more 1.5.0.x security and stability updates will be released. The last such update was Firefox 18.104.22.168, which was made available on Tuesday 20th March this year. Users are strongly advised to upgrade to the latest Firefox 2 release, currently 22.214.171.124, as soon as possible.
The Mozilla Developer News weblog posting appears to be the only official announcement of the change to the Firefox 1.5 support schedule. Other parts of the Mozilla Corporation website still mention April 24th as the end-of-life date for 1.5.
Zero Day, the ZDNet security weblog, has a post about the Firefox 1.5 support extension, which includes a quotation from the Mozilla Corporation's senior director of product management, Basil Hashem, who says, "The original end-of-life date for Firefox was April 24th, we decided to extend that out by a couple of weeks in order to allow for an additional Firefox 1.5.0.x release that incorporates the ability to accurately offer the user a chance to perform a major update (1.5 -> 2.0)."
This suggests that the Mozilla Corporation wants to extend support for Firefox 1.5 until after Firefox 2 has been pushed out to 1.5 users via the software update feature built in to the browser. To date, the update functionality in 1.5 has only offered 1.5.0.x patches to users, despite the Mozilla Corporation's stated intention to allow 1.5.0.x to 2.0.0.x upgrades. The Mozilla Wiki has a page with technical details about the plans for updating 1.5 installations to Firefox 2. It appears that this will occur after next month's release of Firefox 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52. Once delivered, this will ensure that all Firefox 1.5 users who have not disabled software update will be upgraded to Firefox 2 unless they explicitly decline the new release.
The support lifecycle for Firefox is described in the ReleaseRoadmap page on the Mozilla Wiki. It states that after a new major release (such as last October's Firefox 2), the previous release of Firefox will be supported "for up to six months".
Some have criticised the six-month transition period as being too short for enterprises and other institutions, many of which only perform major upgrades of software once a year. Some Linux distributors, who typically package their own builds of Firefox and eschew the browser's software update feature in favour of a system-wide upgrade tool, have also complained about the timescale, which may force them to either push a major new release to their users or backport security and stability fixes from the new version to older releases.
However, the ReleaseRoadmap page states that Mozilla will "work with downstream enterprise-oriented distributors and support vendors to provide a program to enable extended support for otherwise legacy releases". Last December, Christopher Aillon announced that Red Hat and Novell planned to continue maintaining Firefox 1.5 after its end-of-life date as part of a wider cooperation between the Mozilla Corporation and Linux distributors.
In line with the support lifecycle, support for Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5 is scheduled to end on Thursday 18th October this year. Support for Firefox 1.0 and Thunderbird 1.0 ended in early 2006.
From the article: "The Mozilla Wiki has a page with technical details about the plans for updating 1.5 installations to Firefox 2. It appears that this will occur after next month's release of Firefox 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11. Once delivered, this will ensure that all Firefox 1.5 users who have not disabled software update will be upgraded to Firefox 2 unless they explicitly decline the new release."