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Jan 16 2019

Mozilla Terminates Firefox Test Pilot Program

After nearly 33 months of a successful run, the Mozilla Corporation has decided to shut down its popular Firefox Test Pilot program that let users test experimental functions and extensions, which in case of a predominantly positive feedback might find their way into the browser or its massive add-on repository.

The decision appears somewhat surprising, given that Mozilla considers the program an undisputed success: "Test Pilot performed better than we could have ever imagined," Marissa Morris, the company's Senior Director of Firefox Product, explained on the official blog. While some of the tested functions were eventually discarded, various popular features like Activity Stream, Facebook Container, Lockbox and Screenshots survived the test phase and were approved by the browser developers, as was the radical new anti-tracking mechanism due to be implemented in Firefox 65. Moreover, Test Pilot was instrumental in bringing the browser's initially unpopular rapid release scheme up to speed.

However, regardless of past successes, Mozilla plans to rearrange its "innovation process" and turn it into a company-wide responsibility. As per Morris's explanation, on the one hand this means users won't have to worry about active experimental functions being shelved. On the other, future new and/or advanced features will be popularized through different channels, namely the aforementioned add-on repository or their own separate websites. Taken at face value, this could mean that finding desired extensions may get a tad more complicated; but of course this depends on how the new mechanisms will be implemented and whether or not a project can gain enough visibility in the larger context.


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