Mozilla promises Firefox OS security updates every 6 weeks (New features 4 times a year)

Microsoft releases a new version of Windows every few years. Apple updates iOS every year or so. A new version of Ubuntu Linux comes out every 6 months. But Mozilla wants to one-up everyone by bringing new features to Firefox OS on a quarterly basis. There’ll be smaller updates featuring security improvements and bug fixes every 6 weeks.

ZTE Open

The move’s not that shocking when you consider that Firefox OS is based on the work Mozilla has done with the Firefox web browser, and that there’s a new version of that browser released every 6 weeks.

But at a time when the vast majority of Android smartphone don’t ship with the newest version of Google’s operating system, you have to wonder how smartphone makers and wireless carriers will deal with an operating system that’s updated every 6 weeks.

On the other hand, while you only get a brand new version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system every few years, the company does have a habit of pushing security updates about once a month. So it’s not impossible to imagine Mozilla taking a similar approach with mobile devices — assuming it’s possible for Firefox to push updates directly to users without getting slowed down by mobile operators or device makers.

At least one device is already getting updates. This week the Geeksphone Keon and Peak developer edition phones already received a Firefox 1.1 update, offering speed improvements, fixes bugs, and more.

The first Firefox OS phones for consumers started shipping recently, and the platform is expected to become more widespread (at least in Europe and Latin America) in the next year or so.

via TNW

  • Nathan Hubbard

    The phones they’ve announced so far seem like they would make good replacements for feature phones. I’d like to try to run this on my phone, but there only a few supported devices (just like ubuntu). If they do release this in the US, can we expect just low end devices as well?

    • Caspy7

      No, there are high end devices already planned.

  • Conception

    Though everyone wants bug fixes, security and even new functionality on their phones, this ambitious plan to update your OS every six weeks has the potential to be seriously annoying.

    I wish they’d put up feature polls on their website for the public to vote on as most desired features so the devs could bring exactly what the customer wants rather than just introducing unnecessary bloat. I’m looking at you Firefox 22 desktop web browser. How I wish you were still at version 3.5 minus the memory leaks but with an improved JavaScript engine and better HTML 5 standards support. The rest is pure fluff.

  • mokol

    That’s nice but I care more about how long I’ll continue to receive security and bug fixes. This is my main issue with my Android phones and envy the iPhone (of course there are other reasons that prevent me from going with an iPhone). New features (once the OS is fairly mature) don’t really matter to me much.

  • David

    There is no explanation about how they are going to deliver these updates. Android devices for-example, due to differences in hardware compatibility and manufacturer policies, get their updates (or rather don’t get updates) via the manufacturer. The manufacturer is reluctant to provide updates as there is no perceived profit in it, and they probably think an outdated OS may be an incentive to buy a new device.

    Unless Firefox OS is going to limit itself to a very tight hardware specification (read, limited number of devices) then mandating a push update every so often isn’t going to work.

    Apple can do this due to tight hardware compliance. But there are far too many other restrictions imposed by Apple that outweigh this IMO.

    • Caspy7

      Firefox OS is different than Android in that it’s been designed with three layers that have been intentionally kept separate. There’s Gonk (the Linux kernel), Gecko (the main engine for the OS) and Gaia (the User Interface – which can actually be switched out/replaced).
      Gonk runs on the hardware and requires carrier knowledge for some updates, but Gecko is Mozilla’s baby. They are designed to be updated separately.
      Most updates (security and feature-wise) will be to Gecko and won’t involve Gonk. One of Android’s big issues is that because of this lack of separation carriers have to spend many more engineering resources in making changes to the OS and testing it. FxOS’s design alleviates much of this.
      Also, Mozilla contractually obligates partners to update in a timely manner. If they don’t (beyond alienating users) it would be costly, actual money costly, for them. And they could no longer use Firefox OS and it’s copyrights.
      Right now Gecko updates come from the carriers. I don’t know if that might change in the future. Unfortunately, I’m told to switch to updating from Mozilla you have to root the phone. *sigh* Accomplishing this ranges from a change in the settings to tethered hoop-jumping like with some Android phones. That all springs from the hardware design and carrier requirements.
      All that to say that users should be able to expect regular and timely updates.

    • http://aisjournal.com/ Aminul Islam Sajib
  • gomozillago

    The direct link to the original Mozilla blog post, instead of a self-referencing link, is a sign of great professionality.
    I didn’t knok liliputing, but I’m leaving with a good impression.
    Congratulations!