Despite being next to Google Chrome in terms of popularity, the recent months may not have been so kind to Firefox and owner Mozilla in terms of profitability and adoption. The non-profit organization continues to look for additional sources of revenue, sometimes eliciting backlash from its community, while Firefox’s Android app is still in the middle of being rewritten from the ground up. That’s not even considering the rather needlessly numerous versions of Firefox on the Google Play Store, something that is finally getting fixed by dropping at least two out of four or five Firefox apps on Android.
How many Firefoxes are there anyway? Prior to this sudden change, there’s the old stable Firefox that has been around for years and there’s Firefox Beta which is the somewhat stable but still on-going rewrite of the mobile browser. Below that, however, things get more complicated with a Firefox Nightly, a Firefox Preview, and a Firefox Preview Nightly for more bleeding edge and unstable features. That’s not yet counting the privacy-oriented Firefox Focus and the simpler Firefox Lite.
Users of Firefox’s in-development versions have been informed that two of those are finally going away. Firefox Preview will be merged with Firefox Nightly while Firefox Preview Nightly is getting discontinued altogether. Spin-off browsers like Focus and Lite are unaffected.
While the unannounced change could bring about some confusion among those using the unstable versions, the previous situation was even more confusing, especially for those just getting into Firefox on Android. How it got to the point is both a by-product of Mozilla’s Android rewrite as well as its decision to keep versions that had quite a number of users.
The messaging is simpler today and if you need the only version of Firefox compatible with old extensions, you’ll have to stick with the plain old version. Although not exactly unstable, the rewritten Firefox will in the Beta version. Those who want to help test that one, though, now only have one version to choose: Nightly.