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Microsoft Exploits Firefox 4 Uproar, Beats IE Drum 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-to-take-advantage dept.
CWmike writes "A Microsoft executive late Thursday used the furor over Mozilla's decision to curtail support for Firefox 4 to plead the case for Internet Explorer in the enterprise. 'I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we'd like the opportunity to win back your business,' Ari Bixhorn, director of IE at Microsoft, said in a post on his personal blog. 'We've got a great solution for corporate customers with both IE8 and IE9, and believe we could help you address the challenges you're currently facing.' Bixhorn addressed his open letter to the manager of workplace and mobility in the office of IBM's CIO, John Walicki, who, along with others, had voiced their displeasure with Mozilla's decision to retire Firefox 4 from security support. In a comment appended to a blog maintained by Michael Kaply, a consultant who specializes in customizing Firefox, Walicki called Mozilla's decision to end security support for Firefox 4 a 'kick in the stomach.'"
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Microsoft Exploits Firefox 4 Uproar, Beats IE Drum

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  • Duh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@noSpam.spad.co.uk> on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:52PM (#36560978) Homepage

    Hardly surprising; businesses like some stability in their apps. You don't want stagnation, but you don't want to have to test and deploy entirely new releases every 3 months just to maintain a supported environment either.

    I'm not sure Microsoft need to be worried about that particular market anyway because, as much as I hate to say it, IE is really the only browser that's suitable for use in a large Windows environment. It has ludicrously granular control available via Group Policy and updates can be deployed via WSUS without needing any user interaction or elevated rights. Firefox doesn't even offer an MSI installer, let alone any practical way to manage settings or control updates across multiple machines (but then Chrome, Opera and Safari are similarly lacking so they're hardly alone in that regard).

  • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:56PM (#36561032)
    Microsoft gives IE away for free. The only reason they want to "win back your business" is to take advantage of vendor lock-in. I'm not seeing where this is good for the business, especially considering that the security fix for Firefox 4 is well-known and free (upgrade to Firefox 5).
    • Like all other browsers, they want you to default to Bing Search.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      Microsoft gives IE away for free. The only reason they want to "win back your business" is to take advantage of vendor lock-in.

      Unlike, say, Chrome?

      At least Firefox and Safari have less manipulative motivations.

      I'm not seeing where this is good for the business, especially considering that the security fix for Firefox 4 is well-known and free (upgrade to Firefox 5).

      Didn't you just put down MS for making IE free?

      MS wants to steer you towards Bing and Windows Live. Google wants to steer you towards their ads.

      Firefox wants you to use non-proprietary software (except for Flash, for some reason) and Apple wants WebKit in wide use so that OS X and iOS users don't get left out of the web.

    • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Friday June 24, 2011 @10:42PM (#36564370)

      I'm not seeing where this is good for the business, especially considering that the security fix for Firefox 4 is well-known and free (upgrade to Firefox 5).

      That's because you don't understand how a large corporation works, and have never worked for one. Large corporations have many THOUSANDS of custom written applications, as well as many 3rd party applications they buy that rely on a browser (typically IE). They need time to test all of these apps before upgrading the browser to make sure things don't break. For example, our company uses Remedy, a 3rd party client application, for IT change management/incident reporting. Unfortunately, though it is mostly a stand alone client app, Remedy uses the IE engine (via some IE.dlls) for display. An upgrade to IE 9 (at least on the version of Remedy we are on) instantly breaks it so that you can't read tickets. Similary, some SAP Netweaver components throw a "browser is not supported" message for IE 9. Some of our custom apps, especially the older ones written in early ASP .Net or Classic ASP, do not display correctly on the new version. Some 3rd party browser plugins don't work. Security testing needs to be done.

      All of this takes time. Everything has to be tested, and all the problems like those mentioned above have to be ferreted out and mitigated before the new browser can be rolled out, or key productivity tools and processes will break. That is why a stable release cycle, as well as security support for older versions (rather than instant End of Life) is critically important to businesses. It has nothing to do with "vendor lock-in" as you suppose.

  • In a comment appended to a blog maintained by Michael Kaply, a consultant who specializes in customizing Firefox..."

    It's Free Software. Mr. Kaply has everything he needs to start supporting it himself. Think of it as a business opportunity.

  • by dreamt (14798) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:00PM (#36561078)

    Part of the reason that I'm pissed off by this version a week crap is that plugins that should work no longer do, simply because they expect a version number. Google Toolbar doesn't work because of that. That's a serious WTF moment.

    • by Spad (470073)

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/nightly-tester-tools/ [mozilla.org] will get around that problem.

      It's pretty much an essential addon these days, which is sad, though in my case I run the latest Seamonkey nightlies so its use is at least justified there.

      • by Kyrra (612932)
        That's just an ugly workaround. The Mozilla team really needs to fix their problem with plugin version checking to something more intelligent. Just completely bypassing the checks seems like a bad idea.
        • by Spad (470073)

          Oh I agree entirely, but it's still an extremely useful tool to have until they do.

    • Many addons reach into the internals of Firefox... which can change frequently and without warning between versions. Mozilla will automatically update addons now to be marked compatible if it detects they don't make use of changed APIs I believe.

      Chrome has the exact opposite system: Extensions are tightly sandboxed and a limited API is exposed. As long as that API continues working the same way all extensions coded for any version will work. Of course extensions can't hook into the browser all the ways that Firefox ones can.

    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:16PM (#36561296) Journal

      poorly programmed extensions are not Mozilla's fault. The attitude that emulating browsers like Chrome's development cycle is a good idea is Mozilla's fault. They're working on features like having the tabs way up top rather than fixing trivial things like Java plugin incompatibility (which works fine in chrome but crashes firefox) or dealing with the massive memory leak problem that firefox has had for years and has yet to actually try to fix. they need to get their priorities straight or they're going to die.

    • by AxemRed (755470)
      I agree that the new version numbering scheme is silly, and I can see where it could make it harder for a plugin developer to know when their plugin may become incompatible. But I would still argue that the fault, in your example, lies with the plugin design as opposed to Firefox. It's not like Google didn't get notice that the version numbering scheme was changing.
  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:02PM (#36561108) Homepage
    For the technologically confused, it's just a change in version numbering. That's all. 5.0 is essentially 4.1 (or maybe even 4.0.2). Nothing super-crazy going on. Sure, if someone *really* wanted, they can change the 5.0 to a 4.0.3 and feel all warm and fuzzy about 'stability'. The only real issue is the possibility that some extensions weren't properly updated to understand this. Any that aren't can be remotely updated by addons.mozilla.org, though, and anyone with the Addons Compatibility Tester extension can enable disabled extensions and report any issues directly to Mozilla.
    • by Albanach (527650)

      For the technologically confused, it's just a change in version numbering. That's all. 5.0 is essentially 4.1 (or maybe even 4.0.2). Nothing super-crazy going on.

      So for a minor upgrade you probably only need minimal testing then you can deploy.

      Now, how do you tell when a version upgrade contains some major change? Perhaps the could increase the version in increments of ten for big changes.

  • by BagOBones (574735) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:02PM (#36561110)

    Each company and such has a bizarre meaning to version numbers.
    FF 5 IS the security update to FF4.
    Much like Chrome goes up by major numbers.

    Then you look at open source where things often start in the 0.01 range and every digit could be a new feature release.

    A number of companies use major.minor.build however it really isn't as standard as you think.
    Cisco ASA devices look like major.minor.build however new features regularly appear in the "Builds"

    Juniper security gear has gone to a year.quarter. release numbering system

    take your pick.

  • Good for Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <<DesScorp> <at> <Gmail.com>> on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:07PM (#36561166) Homepage Journal

    I hope FF loses some market share. Stupidity should be punished in the business world. I don't personally care if it's Microsoft with IE, Google with Chrome, or Apple with Safari, or any other browser. I don't care about rapid releases. I'm against them, actually. In a business environment, rapid releases only muck up the works and makes life harder for the IT staff.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I hope FF loses some market share. Stupidity should be punished in the business world. I don't personally care if it's Microsoft with IE, Google with Chrome, or Apple with Safari, or any other browser. I don't care about rapid releases. I'm against them, actually. In a business environment, rapid releases only muck up the works and makes life harder for the IT staff.

      use lynx then, it doesn't have rapid updates.

      and it will be secure enough for you.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:17PM (#36561314)
    MS cares so much about version numbering, that Windows 7 is actually Windows 6.1....

    That being said, I find the decision by Mozilla to be equally stupid. 4 versions in seven years, and suddenly we jump to a new version every month? It's just odd.
    • by Spad (470073)

      Well Windows 7 is NT Kernel version 6.1.

      If Mozilla hadn't randomly re-versioned Gecko to match the Firefox version with 5.0 then this would be more apt, but Firefox 4.0 was using Gecko 2.0 so it still kind of applies.

  • LTS Release? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supremebob (574732) <themejunky@geocitie[ ]om ['s.c' in gap]> on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:19PM (#36561346) Journal

    Perhaps Firefox should take a page out of Ubuntu's playbook, and offer a special LTS (Long Term Support) release that will receive back-ported security fixes for the next two or three years. That will give the IT departments and embedded systems manufacturers the long term stability they want, while general users and browser enthusiasts can continue to update their browser every three months.

    Or they can do nothing, and continue to lose marketshare to Internet Explorer and Google Chrome when IT departments start adding Firefox to their unapproved/unsupported software lists. Their call, I guess.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      That sounds like a pretty good idea, but then you bring Chrome in. Chrome doesn't have anything like "stability" WRT to version numbers, there's just the release version that gets a version increment every couple months or so.

  • Harsh Realities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Friday June 24, 2011 @05:29PM (#36561510)
    The Mozilla foundation needs to understand that their recent bad decisions have consequences.

    I use Firefox, and have for quite a while. I've gone from a strong supporter and proselytizer to... less enthusiastic. It's still my first choice of browser, but just barely.

    It was the Awesomebar debacle, and their refusal to include an option to turn it off, that first made me suspect they were headed in the wrong direction. Removing the status bar was a bad idea, and then this ridiculous botchup with versioning... sigh.

    They have positives. They have the best plug-in architecture, and they aren't including patented/copyrighted codecs in the browser, which is good (although they should allow a direct interface to the underlying OS codecs, not simply forbid them from playing). Still, I was contemplating shifting over to Opera. Now, today, we learn that Opera is probably going to go to hell in the next few months.

    At this point, I'm hoping that somebody will fork Firefox back at the 3.6 version, and take it from there. It needs to go in a direction the users want, and stop trying to force the users into a direction the designers want. If you stop listening to your users, they will leave. It's beginning to happen with Firefox.
    • by Dracos (107777)

      Well said, sir. You summarized well my gripes and the overall Firefox situation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Firefox is still the most customizable browser (from the popular ones). If you're trying to use it's UI as a means to discredit it that means you don't really know Firefox. It will take one direction for default users (appeal to the majority) but the power users will be able to tweak it to a great extent.

      Pretending that it suits your specific tastes is just unrealistic.

      Something else I don't understand is why "geeks" can't simply use more than one browser. You DON'T have to set on one for the rest of ete

  • Seems like the singularity is closer than I thought.

  • Until there's an MSI installer.
  • by fremen (33537) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:41PM (#36562414)

    The Awesomebar is a debacle? Wow. Gee. For me, it's the only thing that keeps me using Firefox. I love the Awesomebar.

  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:32PM (#36563912)

    Changing version numbers were a way for me to avoid updates until I had a chance to see if they completely ruined the UI with major changes. Now instead of just updating I have to research to see if it's "just a security update" or an "oh my god WTF" change that has me fighting the UI configuration to get it back to what I want it to be.

    Same thing goes for releasing websites as a developer. Now that I can't rely on version numbers, how am I going to break down support and compatibility?

    What are they thinking? Do they WANT to piss everyone off, or do they have their heads up their asses? If they keep this up, MS will be perfectly right to point out that they have kept a sane versioning system, and that it is kind of a big deal.

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