Are we headed for a world where major new browser versions pop up every couple of months? Will we find ourselves talking about Firefox 23 and Chrome 36 in a few years? Possibly. As Softpedia reports, Mozilla is considering speeding up the rate of major Firefox releases, so much so that Firefox 5 may follow within "months" of Firefox 4's debut.
The Softpedia story is based on a posting in the mozilla.dev.planning mailing list, which includes this quote by Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich:
Cast a colder eye on your blockers. Some of them can wait for a dot release or Firefox 5 that I do believe will be only months after 4 comes out. We are going to a fast release cycle. It serves our users better. To do that we have to get this touch and go done with Firefox 4.
(By "blockers," Eich seems to be talking about show-stopping bugs in this case.)
One certainly can't accuse Mozilla of rushing development. Firefox 4 has been in beta since early July 2010, and the final 4.0 release isn't due until next month. In that same span of time, we've seen the arrival of Chrome 6, 7, and 8. The new Google browsers might not be earth-shatteringly different from one another—indeed, I sometimes don't notice the automatic transition to a major new point release until a few days after the fact—but the breakneck-paced schedule and systematic introduction of single features, like Google's embedded PDF viewer in 8.0, keeps Chrome in the news and might have a positive PR impact. Meanwhile, Mozilla might not be reaping the same rewards from its more conventional release cycle.