Mozilla kicks off Firefox 5, faster release schedule

Launches 'Aurora' channel with first test version of new browser slated to ship in June

Mozilla this week launched into its new faster-tempo development program for Firefox 5.

The first version of what will eventually become Firefox 5 hit Mozilla's new "Aurora" channel -- a development line meant to bridge the gap between the roughest versions and a more stable beta -- on April 12, and on schedule.

Shortly before launching Firefox 4 last month, Mozilla began laying out plans for a sped-up cycle designed to generate a new version of its browser every six to 12 weeks. At the time, engineers at the open-source company said they would expand Firefox's then-current three "channels" of development to four by adding Aurora.

"Users can expect an increase in polish from the raw, cutting edge features in our nightly builds, [but] Aurora releases may not be as stable as beta or final releases," said Damon Sicore, senior director of platform engineering, in a blog post describing the new channel.

Sicore noted that the fresh-baked Aurora included "performance, security and stability improvements," but did not go into more detail.

In a more technical blog post, Christian Legnitto, who oversees Firefox releases, outlined the reasons why Mozilla shifted to a four-step development system -- nightly, Aurora, beta and release -- and how that will solve multiple problems.

Aurora is analogous to Google Chromes "dev" channel, and other software makers' "alpha" designations for relatively unstable, early versions that in time lead to beta.

Under the new development regime, Mozilla engineers will add new features as they're completed, rather than waiting for months while work on the next upgrade is completed. If a feature starts presenting major problems during testing -- say in the Aurora or beta channels -- it will be yanked, then re-inserted into a later cycle after fixes have been applied.

Chrome, the first browser to dramatically accelerate its development schedule, sports a similar process to continually feed features to a line that produces a new version every six-to-eight weeks.

Mozilla has taken a step that Chrome hasn't, however: It marks the Aurora build with a different icon to remind users that they're running a pre-beta version.

Previously, Mozilla had staked out a schedule for Firefox 5 that ends June 21 with the release of the final, polished version. Interim deadlines included April 12, when the first of the Aurora editions were to release, and May 17, the day Firefox 5 is to enter beta.

Even Microsoft has jumped on the faster-is-better bandwagon. Earlier this week, it started showing previews of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), a move that analysts said hinted at an annual release schedule, twice as fast as previous versions.

The Aurora build of Firefox 5 can be downloaded from Mozilla's site, and can be run side-by-side with the production version of Firefox 4.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags browsersinternetsoftwareapplicationsmozilla

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Shop safely with our award-winning security solution. Protect yourself this Black Friday and get the exclusive Black Friday discount for Bitdefender 2019!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?