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Releases/3.5 EOL

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Why

We need a plan to obsolete Firefox 3.5 as we can't support it into perpetuity. We have been frustrated with our efforts to move users off of old releases and are worried too many people do not upgrade and are on vulnerable and unsupported versions of Firefox.

Assumptions

  • We have ~12 million people on Firefox 3.5
  • We want to EOL Firefox 3.5 as quickly as possible
  • We want users on the latest (Firefox 4) but will settle for users being on the oldest supported (Firefox 3.6.x)
  • We want users to opt into the latest version if at all possible
  • We would rather make the decision for users by automatically upgrading them versus leaving them vulnerable and unsupported
  • Certain classes of users can't upgrade to the very latest
    • For Firefox 4, that means users on PPC machines or Mac OS X 10.4 and below
  • Certain classes of users will never be able to upgrade
    • Older/unsupported Linux distros
    • Users without admin privileges
  • 3.5 → 3.6 is the "perfect storm" for automatic updating across major versions
    • No dropped platforms between 3.5 and 3.6
    • > 95% addon compatibility
    • Virtually no UI changes and the changes are mainly additive

Communication channels

What's new / first run pages

  • Shown when a user downloads a build from FTP and runs it for the first time (firstrun) or when a user updates a current 3.5 build (whatsnew)
  • We control these server-side and can do whatever we want for any/all 3.5.x releases
  • The whatsnew is only really an option when a new 3.5 update is released

Google homepage snippets

  • Small text/images shown at the bottom of the customized Google start/home page
  • We control these server-side and can do whatever we want for any/all 3.5.x releases
  • Can only be changed once a month (mid-month)
  • Only has an impact for users who have the default homepage

Advertised update

  • A popup with a message about the update and the ability to easily opt-in and install
  • We control these server-side and can do whatever we want for any/all 3.5.x releases
  • Only an option when a non-3.5 update is available

Blog / Press

  • We can make noise through various PR channels
  • Likely won't have a material impact

Websites

  • If users browse to mozilla web properties (MDN, mozilla.com, AMO) some random way we can show some sort of message
  • Likely won't have a material impact

The plan

ADU Start: 12 million

-- Wait for the whatsnew/firstrun pages and press announcement to work --

ADU Target: 11 million
  • We will do the advertised update to 4.0.1 as planned on May 3rd [done]
    • We need to be sure we don’t offer Firefox 4 for those on 10.4 or PPC macs, bug 644887 and bug 643860 [done]
    • We will wait at least a week or so for uptake

-- Wait for the advertised update to Firefox 4 to get taken by users --

ADU Target: 5 million
  • On May 17th we will switch the snippets over to the “unsupported” snippets [done]
  • At the same time we also put a big warning on all Mozilla web properties, pointing them to the new version to download [not going to do this]

-- Wait for the "unsupported" snippets and site warning to work --

ADU Target: 4 million


Option 1

This is the plan of record / preferred option. It depends on bug 650030 and if the investigation turns out negative or isn't done in time we will fall back to option #2 below

  • On June 21 we release Firefox 3.6.18 as an minor update to BOTH 3.6.17 and 3.5.x users [done]
    • Whether this option is possible depends on changes to release automation not yet fully spec'd, and work not yet started. See details in bug 650030

Option 2

This is not ideal from a product or security standpoint but is the backup plan if bug 650030 says option #1 is untenable

  • On June 21st we are releasing Firefox 5 and 3.6.18. We hope that people will hear the news and get Firefox 5
ADU Target: 3 million
  • On June 28th we do an advertised update to Firefox 5 (to non-PPC and 10.4 users)
ADU Target: 1 million
  • A week or so after we send 3.6.18 to remaining 3.5.x users as a minor update (once the advertised update uptake rate has leveled off)


Option 3

We do not want to do this as 3.5 is still supported / not at risk until the Firefox 5 / Firefox 3.6.18 release on June 21

  • On May 31st we send Firefox 3.6.17 to remaining 3.5.x users as a minor update
    • Whether this option is possible depends on changes to release automation not yet fully spec'd, and work not yet started. See details in bug 650030


Option 4

This is not ideal from a product or security standpoint and is additional work when we can piggyback off of Firefox 5 in option #1

  • On June 21, release a "no-change-but-version-bump" FF4.0.2, and prompt FF3.0, 3.5, 3.6 users to upgrade to that instead. This is something we know we can do easily, and is better then creating a "no-change-but-version-bump" FF3.5.20 (which was proposed in emails).

What a 3.5 user sees

  • 3.5.19 update
  • (maybe) Announcement or press covering the fact that 3.5.19 support is ending
  • 3.5.19 whatsnew/firstrun page saying to update to FF4 or FF3.6.17
  • (maybe) Homepage snippets telling them about FF4
  • Prompt telling them to update to FF4 on May 3rd
  • (maybe) Homepage snippets telling them their release is unsupported and to update to a supported release

Option 1

  • Minor update, when the restart they have FF3.6.18

Option 2

  • (maybe) Press about FF5
  • Prompt to update to FF5
  • Minor update, when they restart they have FF3.6.18

Option 3

  • Minor update, when they restart they have FF3.6.17

Option 4

  • Prompt to update to FF4.0.2
  • Minor update, when the restart they have FF3.6.18

Proactive messaging

  • We will have a SUMO article covering "why did my Firefox 3.5 suddenly become Firefox 3.6"
  • The SUMO article will be linked from the 3.6.18 whatsnew page
  • We will blog/tweet before and after the process, raising awareness as much as possible
  • We will survey addons on AMO compatible with Firefox 3.5 but not 3.6, their usage, and decide if any outreach needs to be done or substitutes documented