Installed IE9 or FireFox 4? Hold on to your Britches …

Just as you’ve gotten Internet Explorer 9 and/or FireFox 4 installed, news has hit the wires of their successors.

Mozilla have confirmed that you can expect FireFox 5 in the Summer and FireFox 6 just a few months after that.

Paul Thurrot just tweeted (and there have been other news sources too) that a technical preview release (link is dead at the moment) of IE10 would be shown at the MIX (developers) conference today.

I’ve encountered sites and applications that don’t work with one or both of these browsers.  Normally I’d think “the app vendor will catch up soon enough”.  But now?  Why would they bother?  With major new releases with the ever present new features (AKA “standards”) breaking existing apps, a web app publisher is probably going to sit on one browser version for ages, before updating their application to a later version.  We might end up in Java hell – anyone been in that painful place where you had to maintain 4 or 5 versions of Java in your desktop “standard”.  It was hell for the helpdesk/desktop management teams.

In an era of cloud computing where the browser becomes the most important tool, I can understand frequent releases.  But surely these should be minor releases, fixing bugs, improving performance, and so on?  Worried about app compat for Windows?  In a world where the likes of Google and Microsoft want you consuming their SaaS apps via the browser, you might be in for a world of hurt pretty soon if every SaaS publisher works to different versions.

It remains to be seen what Mozilla and Microsoft have in store for us.  My bet is that, based on this news, a lot of organisations will choose to skip IE9 and FireFox 4, waiting for the next versions to come along.

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