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Norton product compatibility with Firefox Updates

In the last few weeks, we have had several forum users ask questions about Firefox compatibility. We would like to consolidate all this in a single forum post that hopefully will answer the majority of your questions.

Why does it take so long for Norton to release updates to support newer Firefox releases?

Both Firefox and Norton are on separate release schedules. It is very hard for Norton to follow Firefox schedules.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we regularly test with Firefox Beta releases to make sure we work correctly. However, as Pieter pointed out, Mozilla does tend to break compatibility quite late in their Beta cycle. Since we know this has happened a few times, we tend to be conservative and only enable the toolbar for the versions that we tested with. We would rather our toolbar become disabled than crash the entire browser.

Some of you have wondered why other add-ons remain compatible. In general, Firefox has two types of add-ons: add-ons written in JavaScript, and binary add-ons. JavaScript add-ons have been found to be more compatible. However, for performance and security reasons, Norton add-ons are binary add-ons which use interfaces that Mozilla tend to break quite often between releases.

Going forward, we are working with Mozilla to help improve this process so that we can release supported Norton Toolbar versions in a timely manner. We are encouraged by their more recent responses and we hope that the process will be much smoother with future releases of Firefox.

Why is Norton Toolbar hotfix not compatible with FF 4.01?

In general, Mozilla does not break interface compatibility in a minor update (for example between 4.01 and 4.0). So we tend to mark our extension compatible with minor releases. However, since the hotfix released to support FF 4.0 was tested in a limited manner, we marked it compatible with FF 4.0 only.

Our Intrusion Prevention add-on however, can do its job using a more limited set of interfaces which do not break often. In addition, the Intrusion Prevention add-on is data driven and can dynamically disable certain functions based on compatibility levels, without any visible user impact. So we felt confident about how it will work with FF 4.0 and later and hence enabled support for these releases.

Now here comes the good news: we are working on releasing a patch for NIS 2011 and N360 v5 which will add compatibility for Norton Toolbar with FF 4.0 (and all future minor updates of FF 4.0 – such as 4.01 or 4.02 etc.). This patch will be released very soon. Expect an update from us within the next week.

If Firefox releases a major update like a 4.1 or a 4.5, since they do not guarantee interface compatibility, we will have to release an update to NIS and N360 to support it. We do this so as to not cause crashes or any other more severe problems when you update your browser.