Mozilla Kills 64-Bit Windows Firefox Development

Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg had started a discussion on Google Groups about ceasing development of Windows 64-Bit builds last Friday (November 23rd). This had been purposed as well back in March of this year. Shortly before Mozilla’s Thanksgiving recess on Wednesday, Smedberg announced:

Thank you to everyone who participated in this thread. Given the existing information, I have decided to proceed with disabling windows 64-bit nightly and hourly builds. Please let us consider this discussion closed unless there is critical new information which needs to be presented.

The reasons for ending the development of the Windows 64-Bit builds were many but included:

  • 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.
  • Crashes submitted by 64-bit users are currently not high priority because we are working on other things.

This announcement seems to coincidentally comes the day after a major Bug (813619) was causing a huge spike in the number of crashes on the Nightly Windows 64-Bit builds. Contrary to the last bullet point above, this bug was fixed rather quickly and a more ‘stable’ version of the Nightly Windows 64-bit build was available the next day. Plugins has always been Mozilla’s excuse, reason, justification, etc. for the lack of a Windows 64-Bit build. Though the (unspoken) bottom line is, it would be too much work for Mozilla to rebuild Firefox from the ground up to properly support Windows 64-Bit.

Currently in the 64-Bit Windows browser market there is only Internet Explorer and Opera. Chrome, like Firefox does have an unofficial/developmental 64-Bit version for Windows. So as it stands now the only way to get a 64-Bit version of Firefox is to go with the unofficial builds such as Pale Moon or Waterfox. Unfortunately, I never looked at Pale Moon and while I had been happy with and recommended Waterfox. That quickly changed when I went to install version 15 and discovered the developer’s were trying to secretly install Bloatware when installing the application. The user did have the option (albeit hidden) to not install the bloatware. However, I became extremely unhappy and reversed my recommendation when I found out that using the application’s uninstaller result in the bloatware being installed without my consent.

Further Readings: