Rapid Release Model

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The rapid release model is a software development and release strategy adopted by Mozilla starting in 2011. The model includes the following 4 key aspects:

Faster Release Cycle

Prior to 2011, Firefox followed a traditional release model, with major versions released less frequently. Starting with Firefox 5.0 in 2011, Mozilla transitioned to a rapid release cycle, with new major versions released every 6-8 weeks.[1] This rapid release cycle was later accelerated further, with new major versions released every 4 weeks starting in 2020.[2]

Streamlined Update Process

With the rapid release model, users no longer need to download a full Firefox installer to update to a new major version. Instead, Firefox can be updated automatically or by downloading a smaller patch/update file, rather than a full installer. This streamlines the update process for users, who can more easily keep their Firefox installation up-to-date.

Release Channels

Firefox development and releases are split across four channels: Nightly, Developer Edition, Beta, and Release. The Aurora development channel was previously part of this process but was discontinued in 2017, with the Developer Edition channel taking its place. New features are first integrated into the Nightly channel, then move through the other channels over 6-8 week periods before reaching the final Release channel.[3] This staged rollout allows for testing and stability checks before updates are broadly distributed.

Extended Support Releases

In addition to the rapid release channel, Mozilla also offers an Extended Support Release (ESR) channel. ESR versions are updated less frequently, approximately every 30 weeks, and are targeted at enterprise and institutional users who require more stability.[4]

The transition to the rapid release model was driven by Mozilla's goal to more quickly deliver new features and improvements to users, as well as to better compete with the rapid release cycles of other major web browsers like Google Chrome.