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Decision leaves Opera and Microsoft with the only 64-bit browsers, though Google will soon join the pack

Fans of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation have waited... and waited... and waited more still, for Mozilla's popular Firefox browser to add 64-bit support.  With pickup of 64-bit SKUs of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows operating system rapidly accelerating, it certainly seemed a 64-bit browser would be just around the corner.

Instead Mozilla has made the curious decision to pull the plug on the long-delayed project, while offering only small clues as to why the decision was made.

The announcement was posted by Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg on the Bugzilla development page.  He ordered Mozilla employees and community developers:

Please stop building windows 64 builds and tests.

As for why the he opted to pull the plug on 64-bit for now, he comments, "Many plugins are not available in 64-bit versions.  The plugins that are available don’t work correctly in Firefox because we haven’t implemented things like windowproc hooking, which means that hangs are more common."

Firefox laptop
Firefox 64-bit development is dead for now. [Image Source: Flickr/dimnikolov]

Mozilla may soon find itself in lonely territory.

With Oracle Corp.'s (ORCL) Java and Adobe Systems Inc.'s (ADBE) Flash now supporting 64-bit Windows plug-ins, both Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 and Opera Software ASA (OSE:OPERA) have made the leap to 64-bit.  Meanwhile Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome, one of the most popular browsers due to its clean UI and strong GPU acceleration, has added 64-bit support in Linux and is in the process of porting its changes to Windows.

In other words, soon Mozilla may be the only browser maker without a 64-bit browser.

Of course, Windows compatibility libraries ensure 32-bit applications (like Firefox) can still run on 64-bit Windows.  But there is a small performance penalty associated.

For that reason one has to wonder whether Mozilla might come to regret its decision to halt development, even if it is only a temporary one.

Source: Bugzilla

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64 bit "Firefox" exists
By kep55 on 11/22/2012 11:54:54 AM , Rating: 3
I've started using Waterfox which is a 64 bit version of Firefox. Other than checking for add-on compatibility with every start it works fine and looks / feels just like Firefox 16.

RE: 64 bit "Firefox" exists
By Chadder007 on 11/22/2012 12:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
I use Palemoon x64 which is similar.

RE: 64 bit "Firefox" exists
By RealTheXev on 11/23/2012 1:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
I've used Palemoon for about two years now even on 32-bit machines. Firefox's crappy UI is the main reason. Mozilla failed to bring the Palemoon team on board due to the changes in versioning, and because of massive changes to FF's UI. Palemoon's team wasn't willing to give up on the more "classic" UI to work with Mozzila and I commend them for it.

I prefer Palemoon over Waterfox not only for UI, but because Palemoon is just a better user experience for me.

Now, I have no real clue what Mozzila is saying about a lack of plugin support as flash, Java, Silverlight, and every FF extension I care about works flawlessly... in Palemoon.

Mozilla has released similar statements before about Firefox x64, but this time I think it's safe to assume that we can stick a fork in Firefox and say its development will no longer be moving in a competitive direction. I encourage others to switch to Palemoon and other 64 bit Firefox alternatives and put Mozilla out of your mind like I did almost two years ago.

RE: 64 bit "Firefox" exists
By Mumrik on 11/23/2012 7:46:59 AM , Rating: 1
I'm using Waterfox too.

I got tired of Firefox losing its shit when I had hundreds of tabs open at a time and since I have 16 gigs of RAM, I'd rather just switch to Waterfox instead of changing my browser habits.

RE: 64 bit "Firefox" exists
By Ringold on 11/23/2012 5:35:43 PM , Rating: 2
I've always wondered what the heck people legitimately need hundreds of tabs open for.

Some sort of web development need? Or just pr0n?

RE: 64 bit "Firefox" exists
By phatboye on 11/24/2012 12:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
I feel the same way, If I need to revisit a page often I just bookmark it. I am the type of person who wants as little stuff running in memory as possible. So usually I have 1-4 tabs open at once. Rarely more than 4 tabs. Also I am not the type to keep the browser open 100% of the time.

Never understand theses post where people are complaining about having 100+ tabs open.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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