The Mozilla Corporation has made it quite clear that it doesn't give a hoot about enterprise users who favour its popular web browser Firefox.
A forum thread between one Mike Kaply, a consultant whose company specialises in customising the free browser for businesses, which was unearthed by ZDNet, makes interesting reading for any corporate sysadmin currently using the software.
The kerfuffle started when Kaply expressed his displeasure at Mozilla's new policy of seeding new releases of the browser at a fast and furious pace, sometimes with as little as six weeks between major upgrades. That was back in March.
At the time, the outfit's VP of product Jay Sullivan said: "What we want to do is get the power into users’ hands more quickly. For example, the video tag was shippable in June - we should have shipped it. Meanwhile, we're waiting for this whole package. Why wouldn't we ship the video tag when it's ready?"
Kaply complained in a Mozilla forum: "Companies simply can’t turn around major browser updates in six weeks (and each one of these is a major update). With security releases, there was a reasonable expectation that web applications wouldn’t break as a result of changes. With these releases, there is no such expectation. So a full test cycle needs to be run with every release. By the time this cycle is completed and the browser is piloted and deployed, another version of Firefox would already be released so they’d already be behind."
Quite how much sympathy Kaply was expecting from the makers of a free piece of software is open to discussion, but we'd be willing to bet it was more than he got.
Mozilla's QA guru and Firefox evangelist Asa Dotzler stepped into the fray swinging.
"Mike, you do realize that we get about 2 million Firefox downloads per day from regular user types, right?" he wrote. "Your 'big numbers' here are really just a drop in the bucket, fractions of fractions of a percent of our user base.
"Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours. Until we run out of people who don’t have sysadmins and enterprise deployment teams looking out for them, I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about."
Kaply countered later with: "You can’t play the market share card. Because even years ago when supporting enterprise meant getting a lot of market share, Mozilla didn’t care. Enterprise is a simple technical problem. If [Mozilla Corporation] would simply throw a few resources at it and try to solve it, we wouldn’t be having this discussion."
And then the knock-out blow from Dotzler:, "Years ago, we didn’t have the resources. Today, I argue, we shouldn’t care even if we do have the resources because of the cost benefit trade. A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy. I’d much rather Mozilla spending its limited resources looking out for the billions of users that don’t have enterprise support systems already taking care of them."
Judging from the angry buzz surrounding the spat on Kaply's blog, and the fact that Dotzler has gone very quiet all of a sudden, we suspect there might be some pretty high-level meetings going on at Mozilla HQ.
That said, good on Mozilla! It's not often the humble individual user is deemed more important than a corporate customer.