Do We Really Need a New Browser Every Six Weeks?

June 22, 2011

I am a software geek and I love new software. As a businessperson, I also want to be as productive as possible when using my software. New software can cause things to stop working and become a productivity killer.

Today I got news about a new version of Firefox. It is my browser of choice and I couldn’t stop myself from installing it. Of course this version comes only a few weeks after the last version was released. The explanation for the quick update cycle was to keep up with the update cycle of Google Chrome. After reading the explanation, it got me to thinking if rapid updates were truly a good thing?
We definitely need browser updates on a regular basis to patch security issues. Yet those updates don’t have to come as a new version with new features (and new problems).

With a new version, you always have to ask yourself if various browser add-ons will continue working. What if something important to your workflow does not work with the new version? You either have to live without the add-on until (if?) a compatible version is available or uninstall the new version and roll back to the old version.

Not only do you need to worry about add-ons, what if Web sites you visit will not work correctly with the new browser? I know of a friend who found they couldn’t do their online banking after installing Internet Explorer 9. Luckily I heard about this before I had installed the new version and I’m happily sticking with Internet Explorer 8 until I hear of fewer issues.

My company, like most, has a Web site. Every now and then we hear about how something isn’t working on a particular browser. We’ve heard about problems in Opera, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Now that browsers are being released more often, we have to test the Web site more often in each browser. I’d rather spend that time developing new content or adding features to the site.

Instead of a new version every six weeks, could we at least slow things down to every six months? Heck, once a year seems like more than enough to me. I’m just afraid that I won’t have a choice since the only way to get security updates will be to get the latest version and hope that everything works.

Article first published as Do We Really Need a New Browser Every Six Weeks? on Technorati.

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