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Firefox 10 update due this week

Firefox 10 update due this week

First extended support release to feature extension compatibility

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Mozilla developers have given the green light to ship Firefox 10 this week.

Notes from a Mozilla meeting last week said that the upgrade was on for January 31, the next ship date in the six week schedule that the company adopted last year.

The new version includes one of the first components of Firefox's planned silent update mechanism: The browser automatically disables incompatible addons and marks all others as compatible.

Addons that work with Firefox 4 or later will be marked as compatible in Firefox 10, Mozilla said.

Complaints about incompatible addons have been common since Mozilla shifted to the faster release schedule, as addon developers have been slow to revamp their code or at least mark their extensions as suitable for the newest browser.

Mozilla began automatically marking addons as compatible back in March 2011 when it launched Firefox 4, but limited that move to extensions distributed through its own website; the new feature in Firefox 10 does the same for all addons, including those not available from Mozilla.

According to the company, extensions offered outside its own download store account for 75% of all addons.

"Addon compatibility has always been a huge barrier to releasing more often, so it was critical we have a plan that wouldn't leave addons or users behind," wrote Justin Scott, who leads Mozilla's addon team. "For this new system to work, we wanted a compatibility process that didn't require developers to lift a finger unless their addon was one of the few broken."

As Scott hinted, automatic addon compatibility is one of several features Mozilla is working on so it can offer "silent updates" that upgrade Firefox in the background and without any user interaction. Other parts of the service will debut in future versions of the browser.

Mozilla's current plans are to complete silent update with Firefox 13, now set to launch on June 5.

Also on Tuesday, Mozilla will ship Firefox 3.6.26, a security update for that two year old browser. This week's update will be followed by two more before Firefox 3.6 is retired from support in late April.

Firefox 10 will also be the first edition in the Extended Support Release (ESR) line that Mozilla has created for enterprises that cannot, or will not, upgrade every six weeks. Firefox ESR will be upgraded every 42 weeks, or seven times slower than the "standard" build of the browser.

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