Help users on old versions of Firefox get the upgrade message

8 06 2012

Tragically, there are millions of Firefox users out there using older versions of Firefox. Their reasons are varied and personal. We get it, change is hard. But know this: Upgrading to the latest Firefox is free and easy, plus it gets you a faster, safer and more stable browser. It’s a scenario full of win.

If you’re a Mozillian reading this post, then you already get it. You know that new releases of Firefox bring a bounty of innovations, gifts and delight. You also know that part of our job as Mozillians is to help users find their way to the most recent version of Firefox that’s out there. If you’re a Firefox Affiliate (and really, why wouldn’t you be?) we’ve launched a new kind of button to help you help the masses get up to date.

These upgrade buttons display a different message depending on whether or not you’re using the most recent version of Firefox. If someone visits your website or blog using an older version of Firefox, they’ll get an upgrade message and be directed to the upgrade Firefox download page. The most recent version Firefox or a different browser (gasp!) and a Firefox brand message appears. Visitors who click on this message are directed to the main Firefox download page.

This button is available in 250×300 and 160×600 pixel sizes and is currently only available for the EN-US locale. We’re hoping to roll it out to the other 17 Affiliates locales in the new few weeks.

Special thanks to Antony Ricaud and Ty Flanagan for coding and design magic for these buttons.

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9 responses

8 06 2012
Matt2

On http://blog.mozilla.org/theden/2011/12/01/10-reasons-to-upgrade-to-the-latest-firefox-version/
“There are other options, like GoogleBar, while many of the functions of the original toolbar have been integrated right into the browser.”
The link for GoogleBar points to https://addons.mozilla.orgfirefox/addon/googlebar/
It’s missing the / before Firefox.
Other than that, I love it.
Yes, this is the worst possible place to put it, but I’m too lazy to file a bug today

9 06 2012
kats

It would be cool if people who already had the latest version of Firefox were shown a “thank you for using firefox!” type message. In general I find it not very useful when I’m shown an ad for something I already use, particularly when I’m in the process of using it. (For example, TVs in restaurants that advertise the restaurant itself.)

9 06 2012
jrbrusseau

Users aren’t retarded and they know upgrading is free and easy. The problem isn’t cost or difficulty or even that change is hard (which is just a cop-out anyways). Maybe some users just don’t like the changes in the latest Firefox and have or simply little to no incentive to upgrade.

I know someone who is still using Firefox 3.5 and would still be using Firefox 2.0 if websites still supported it. That person is only contemplating upgrading now because websites are dropping support for it.

It might be hard to see for those of you working of Firefox but it’s truly a different product from when it first came out. You might have given thought to spinning off a new software line rather then introducing all of these changes in to your existing product.

Here’s an idea: Why not work on a browser that’s is future proof? A browser that’ll never need to be upgraded in order to keep working. One that lasts forever or at least about a decade.

10 06 2012
pd

Clearly you do not “get it”.

Faster? According to admissions from Nicholas Nethercote, Firefox 4 was a step backwards in terms of memory management or garbage collection specifically and these problems were not resolved until Firefox 10 or 11. Additionally, the Hueyfix to stop arguably the browser’s biggest feature (Add-ons) being a flaw (massive memory leaking) has not yet landed on the stable channel.

Safer, more stable? The ability of direct hardware access through WebGL to BSOD a Windows system doesn’t seem to equate with those claims.

Additionally I expect that the plethora of dumbing-down, Chrome-copying, minimalistic feature-hiding-or-destroying changes since Firefox 3.6.* is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons a significant portion have not upgraded.

Yet here you serve up nothing more than another soft marketing campaign to try and address the problem! How about an honest, hard-hitting, responsibility-taking, attention-grabbing campaign. One based on, wait for it, honesty! Wouldn’t that be more successful than yet another website badge campaign? Try admitting the cold hard facts: Mozilla screwed up, but then made up for your mistakes through MemShrink, Snappy and … etc. You might well be very surprised how a bit of honest falling-on-your-sword contrition would help your case. Firefox users have no-doubt always had some concept of Mozilla fighting against the odds. I expect the sympathy you would generate from a bit of honesty would very much help to mitigate the anger and mistrust you have generated with your moves since 3.6.*

If you really want to improve the odds of users upgrading, apart from just a marketing campaign, it would really help if, like Microsoft has done with WIndows for years, you coded a legacy or ‘classic’ design into Firefox and thus allowed those who are perfectly happy with the look and feel of 3.6.* to get the same experience with newer versions.

Lastly, you really need to fix the update nightmare. IE updates are delivered generally by Windows Update. Users don’t whine about IE updates anymore, they whine about Windows Updates, thus protecting IE from some scorn. Chrome just updates better than a cat burglar! Firefox Nightly is currently prompting me cumulatively up to a dozen or more times. If I don’t respond to the first prompt, it opens another, then another, then … Come on guys, updates have been a nightmare for ages. Fix the bugs!

10 06 2012
Tyler Downer

“Here’s an idea: Why not work on a browser that’s is future proof? A browser that’ll never need to be upgraded in order to keep working. One that lasts forever or at least about a decade.”

That somewhat defeats the purpose of having a modern browser. The web technology we are using now (HTML5, etc.) didn’t even exist 5 years ago. That is the reason that Firefox 3.0 (released in 2008) can’t run a lot of modern websites, and when it can, it can’t run them at a reasonable speed. It’s impossible to predict what will be the tech for the next 6 months, much less ten years. The important thing is to make sure that upgrading is painless (which it is much easier now with Firefox 13 and above than with pre Firefox 10. The removal of the UAC Prompt, defaulting add-ons to compatible, and now, in Firefox 15, silent updates, will make updates nearly invisible to end-users. It will eventually be like using a website, you don’t have to do anything to be on the latest version of the website, just use it.

28 06 2012
BobJones

I am using Firefox 3.6 which was updated and supported until very recently. Now I am being asked to upgrade to Firefox 12. Really? What about firefox 4? 5? 6? 7-11? Are those all junk? Sorry but 3.6 is working fine for me and something tells me if versions 4-11 had so many problems they had to be replaced that quickly then Mozilla is either releasing unstable versions or things people really don’t like. So I’m sticking with 3.6. You have more versions of Firefox than there are of Windows! Ridiculous!

28 06 2012
pd

Yeah that’s really false logic now, though there was merit to it a while back. Firefox’s memory management took a big nosedive in version 4 but it’s now much better than ever. In particular when 15 comes out, the horrible architectural decision to allow Add-Ons without any real consideration for their performance, then blame everyone but themselves for Add-Ons causing Firefox to perform poorly … well that situation will be all but eradicated in 15. It’s done with a bug fix loosely known as ‘the Huey fix’. Named after Kyle Huey, the champion developer who found the architectural flaw in Firefox’s codebase that meant Add-Ons were all leaking memory like buggery no matter how well or badly they were written.

The reason for the updates is very different to what you are suggesting as well. You couldn’t be more wrong actually. Unlike yourself, a lot of Firefox lovers actually want updates because it helps them have a better experience of the modern web’s capabilities. That’s one big reason why a chunk of Firefox users have jumped to Google Chrome which was the first browser to adopt the rapid-release policy. The crazy thing is that Chrome has now slowed down it’s releases because it’s no longer in need of the rapid development updates it required when it was still being built from the ground up. Chrome never set a finite period of updates but tended to update very fast. Mozilla set a finite time period – updates every 6 weeks and Firefox (STILL!) lacks the invisible background updating needed to reduce the update harassment that goes with a 6 week development cycle. Thankfully these days, the bad decisions Mozilla tends to make are significantly separate from influence on the actual Firefox code. The current version of Firefox is quite efficient in it’s memory use, performance and/or snappyness thanks to the 13 month old MemShrink initiative and the newer Snappy initiative.

All that said, if you don’t want a minified UI lacking the basics like a status bar, RSS icon, separate back/forward and reload/stop buttons, prefer popup alerts rather than show hide alerts at the top of the screen, like bookmarks handling the way they are in 3.6 and find a lot of the options that the UI people have removed since 3.6, I fully understand your upgrade reluctance!

On the other hand, Firefox’s JavaScript performance is said to have increased markedly since 3.6 so you’re missing out there.

What is really needed from Mozilla is a dead-honest, up-front, no-bullshit marketing effort. Mozilla needs to come up and admit it’s mistakes, tell people about MemShrink and Snappy and how it’s addressing it’s mistakes from the past, show contrition for abusing it’s users with too many poor decisions and bad releases and explain how it’s learned it’s lessons.

People are really forgiving when you are honest. Mozilla is not honest about it’s flaws. It tends to believe it knows best and that the ill-spoken, troll-style ‘diplomacy’ that has told them the truth about their software, is something to get upset about, rail against and ignore.

Mozilla it’s time you learned you’re not perfect. You beat a giant corporation with a small chunk of the resources however that giant WAS SLEEPING like a hibernating bear. It’s woken up now and a new giant corporation has arisen at the same time. Now is when the real challenge starts and so far, Mozilla has made some bad mistakes under that pressure. To use a simple sporting analogy, it’s very easy to beat up on the cellar dwellars but to consistently produce/perform when the heat it on …that is what makes a truly brilliant team/organisation. It’s great to see Mozilla lift it’s game with tactics like MemShrink and Snappy whilst expanding to mobile and B2G. All that is commendable. However it’s the marketing department that is holding Firefox back by not realising the need to honestly admit and address, in a smart and swanky manner, the failures of Firefox’s recent past, apologise, and promise to do better whilst asking for a second chance.

15 12 2012
Alexander Miller

I’m really pissed off that FF didn’t inform me, BEFORE I agreed to the upgrade, that add-ons might be disabled. Now they’re gone. This kind of disdain for users is inexcusable.

18 02 2013
BadAndy

Tried 12, 14, 16, all junk, slow, slow, slow, and buggy. I would switch to chrome but they don’t have the add-ons I need, going back to 3.6.

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