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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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We'll be back.
By drycrust3 on 11/22/2012 2:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Mozilla Abandons 64-Bit Firefox Development for Windows for Now

I think the important point in this is the "for now" bit. To me this means that Mozilla plan to release a Windows 64 bit version down the track, which is logical.
I do wonder if the main reason for this is simply economics, i.e. they don't have enough money to develop and maintain a 64 bit version for Windows as well as maintaining a 32 bit browser for the Windows range of operating systems. I would imagine trying to maintain a secure browser for Windows must be quite a challenge, so limiting themselves to just a 32 bit version would simplify matters.
As I understand it, Firefox are continuing 64 bit support for Linux and Mac computers (I've checked and currently my Firefox browser is a 64 bit version).
With Windows XP having an end of life of April 2014, it is only a matter of time before Firefox will stop supporting that operating system, at which time one would expect Firefox to have a 64 bit version for Windows available.

RE: We'll be back.
By bug77 on 11/23/2012 8:07:46 AM , Rating: 2
I think the important point in this is the "for now" bit.

No, it isn't. It's just corporate speech for "we won't do it". It's like when they say "we're continuously evaluating opportunities" or "determining the best user experience for our users". The latter gets thrown around a lot when it comes to updates for Android.

RE: We'll be back.
By drycrust3 on 11/23/2012 2:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
It's just corporate speech for "we won't do it".

Here is the official Firefox 64bit website:
Notice something odd? It has a section for 64bit Windows operating systems! Sure, its a development site, but Firefox wouldn't bother with doing alphas or betas (or whatever you'd like to call them) unless they did have longterm plans that included a 64 bit browser for Windows 64 bit OSes.
As I said, I think this is more of a hiatus or a time out than an abandonment of the production of a 64 bit browser, and, as I said before, the most logical reasons would be resource related.
To me, because Microsoft has decreed that XP will have an end of life in 2014, then my guess is Firefox are going to put their Windows resources into keeping a secure 32 bit Windows XP compatible version until just after Microsoft close the door on XP, and then they too will close the door on XP.

RE: We'll be back.
By bug77 on 11/23/2012 6:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
That domain isn't even registered by Mozilla Foundation.

RE: We'll be back.
By drycrust3 on 11/23/2012 8:32:35 PM , Rating: 2
My apologies if this site isn't an official Mozilla website.

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