Ten years ago the Web was a very stagnated place. There was no new technology, no good reason to update your browser. We live in a different world now where the Web is contant evolving and new technologies arrive every day. We need better browsers and constant updates.
In this new world, there’s no place to major browser versions. There’s no place to big releases with years between them. We need a continuous release cycle with constant improvements and a simpler user experience.
Google Chrome was the first browser to realize this new requirements. When you download Chrome you’re not downloading version “4” or “9”. You’re downloading Chrome and you always have the latest version (whatever it is) thanks to automatic updates.
The HTML5 expert group also noted that the new Web needs this continuous flow of inovation. There’s no HTML version anymore. There’s is just HTML, an evolving technology.
Older browsers still suffer from this “major version” release cycle. Firefox recently tried to change its release cycle to a more frequent one. Firefox 5 is expected just a few months after Firefox 4. And, according to the planned release dates, we will see Firefox 6 and 7 this year. But how much time until we have simple “Firefox”? No versions attached? Just the latest Mozilla goodness? My guess? Very soon.
Internet Explorer still has those big numbers attached to every release. They are also trying to decrease the interval between releases. IE 10 was announced just after IE 9 official release. Other browsers like Safari and Opera also have specific versions – Opera being the worst one labeling its versions, with an obscure numbering scheme.
A versionless Web is the best strategy to a continuous and constant evolution. It’s better for users, that don’t have to think about versions and updates, and will always have the latest version. And it’s better for developers that don’t need to think about supporting older browser versions.