This smaller release—bug fixes, behind-the-scenes improvements, but little user-visible difference—is likely to be the norm for future Firefox versions. Bigger features will still arrive from time to time, but for the most part, users will just experience a continuous improvement. Firefox updates should be automatic and essentially invisible. Even articles such as this one, which attach some significance to the new release, are probably not what Mozilla wants—press coverage should focus on features, not version numbers. Mozilla—as with Google—wants developers to cease targeting specific browser versions, and instead target standards; the regular releases are one step towards achieving that goal.
Another key part is downplaying version numbers. Again, Chrome is the obvious example here; if you look at the Chrome download page, for example, there's no indication of which version of Chrome you're going to get. It's just "the latest."
However, Mozilla wants to take this a step further. A feature request entered into Mozilla's bug system (feature requests aren't bugs in any traditional sense, but Mozilla uses one system for managing everything) calls for the removal of the version number from Firefox's "About" dialog. Instead, the intent is to make the About box do two things; show the product name and links to legal information, as it already does, and show how long ago Firefox checked that it was up-to-date, with some kind of provision to check right now. There won't be a version number—just an indicator of whether the browser is up-to-date or not.
The reaction, however, was almost universally negative. While many commenters agreed with the broader desire to downplay version numbers, they disagreed with the change, since the version number remains useful when diagnosing problems, and users expect to see it in the about dialog. Quotes were made from the Windows, Mac OS X, and GNOME user interface guidelines to bolster this point; in all three, the about dialog is meant to specify a version. Getting rid of the version number breaks this expectation. Version information would still be visible, but only through the little-known "about:support" page.
While we have agreed with Mozilla that the rapid release policy and downplaying of the version number is the best way forward for the Web itself, the virtue of making this change is harder to fathom. For most people, the only reason to even have an "About" dialog is to see which version you're running—the number of users who care about the legal mumbo jumbo, or Mozilla's mission-statement, is vanishingly few. Even having the update feature in the About box (as Chrome also does) runs contrary to expectations—checking which version you're currently running shouldn't change that version.
And for what gain? Even if the version number isn't very important, it's a piece of trivia that users expect to see there. Putting it there hurts nobody, and is consistent with their expectations. The biggest problem with browser version numbers is not browser users—it's Web developers, making decisions on the basis of the version string. If Mozilla were really serious about preventing people from depending on the version number, it's not the About dialog that would lose the version number—it's the version information sent to every Web server every single time the browser requests a page that should disappear. Leave the information accessible to users; just prevent developers from having access to it. That's where it really matters.
The argument is made that you don't know what version of, say, Twitter or Facebook you're using, so why should your Web browser be any different? One rather big, obvious difference is that Web sites aren't installed locally and don't have to be manually updated. Firefox at the moment still does. The browser still doesn't have a robust automatic update mechanism. It doesn't perform Chrome-like silent updates, so the user is made painfully aware that she is switching versions. If you're going to force the user to know about every update, it seems a little unfair to refuse to even tell her what version she's using.
In similar with the enterprise issue, it also seems that the entire problem could have been avoided if Mozilla had simply switched to a date-like version number. This would both end one of the enterprise gripes—that major version number bumps incur extra testing—and the About box could then say something equivalent to, "this version of Firefox was created on 2011-08-11. It is up-to-date," which would both tell users how stale their version was (if at all), and serve as a version identifier of sorts.