Firefox has been testing a new release that detects and closes crashed plugins (instead of letting them crash Firefox entirely) for several months, carefully making sure everything was working before they released Firefox 3.6.4 last week.

Within days, they released an update. I couldn’t imagine what they might have missed in all the beta testing. Katie wondered if the beta testers hadn’t been testing the limits.

You want to know what convinced Mozilla to issue an update so quickly?

Farmville.

Apparently Firefox was detecting Farmville as frozen and closing it. It turns out that on many computers, Farmville regularly freezes up the browser for longer than 10 seconds, and its players just deal with it and wait for it to come back. Mozilla decided that the simplest thing to do would be to increase the time limit.

What this tells me is that the type of person willing to beta-test a web browser these days is not likely to be playing Farmville — or if they are, it’s likely to be on a bleeding-edge computer that can handle it without 10-second freezes.

In more practical terms: Mozilla needs to convince a wider variety of users to help test their software!

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