Firefox 64-bit Windows development resumed

In November, Mozilla's software development team decided to shut down development of a long awaited 64-bit Windows version of its Firefox web browser. At the time, Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg said the reason for the cancellation was due to many third party plug-ins not having 64-bit versions.

That decision did not sit well with many Firefox users, and apparently it did not please many on the Mozilla development team as well. In a new post this week on the Mozilla Google Groups support page, Smedberg admitted that "there was significant negative feedback" on the move to cancel Firefox Windows 64-bit development.

Smedberg has apparently had a change of heart and now claims, "I believe that we can keep a set of users happy by making a modification to the original plan." That plan will include moving all of the current users of Mozilla's Win64 nightly channel to the Win32 channel. However, he added, "Users who need the 64-bit builds will have to download it after the migration point."

The Windows 32-bit version of Firefox will continue to be tested to make sure it also works well with any 64-bit version of Windows, according to Smedberg. As we mentioned before, the vast majority of Windows 7 and Windows 8 owners are now using the 64-bit SKU of these operating systems. Smedberg said, "I do hope that the projects and developers who are interested in win64 will work together to maintain this build configuration."

Thanks to hagjohn for the tip!

Source: Google Groups | Image via Mozilla

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i don't even think that if you are on a 64 bit build that it should auto update to a 32bit build and then you have to manually change it back to a 64 bit build, why can't they just leave the people that are using the 64 bit build alone.

Just hope they don't do what Adobe did and go 64 bit (After Effects) leaving thousands of ****ed off users stuck with incompatible 32bit plugins (add-ons). Simply incorporate a way to run older 32bit add-ons and everyone would be happy. Yes I know it would be more work and eliminate the performance gains, but for those that really want certain add-ons it could work.

FalseAgent said,
Give them a break, guys. At least Firefox has good font rendering. Fonts are so ugly in Chrome.

Only on Windows, Fx's fonts on Linux look just as horrible as other fonts on Linux

I abandoned firefox for Opera last week and it has been great, apart from password imports.

Seems to me like Firefox was built by appealing to tech people with phoenix, firebird, and early firefox versions - however now they are more interested in facebook integration at this point.

Chrome, on the other hand, is pretty much an advertisement. IE10 has no addons. Opera - now here's a beauty that's been around for decades. Still appealing to the same audience and working perfectly.

Lord Method Man said,
I would hate to be stuck using FF when IE10 is available

How much I prefer IE10 over the others, There are still websites that work better on Fx/Chrome (stupid designers with to much browser specific codes usually) and IE misses stylish or similar (I absolutely can't stand default Facebook(which works horrible in IE10 btw) or youtube ). (IE7Pro has/had something similar, but its unstable and barely works).

Way long overdue! How can FireFox even think of staying competitive when, more and more people are running 64-bit versions of Windows, yet FireFox remains stuck at 32-bit. Worse still, when one is running 64-bit Windows-7, FireFox frequent crashes. (Yes, it does let you restart, but why should users have to put with this nastiness at all?)

TsarNikky said,
Way long overdue! How can FireFox even think of staying competitive when, more and more people are running 64-bit versions of Windows, yet FireFox remains stuck at 32-bit. Worse still, when one is running 64-bit Windows-7, FireFox frequent crashes. (Yes, it does let you restart, but why should users have to put with this nastiness at all?)

Use Palemoon its 64bit and my usual addons work perfectly fine (APB, GM, stylish, firebug etc)
Oh and its faster then the default Fx from Mozilla and so far except the occasional freeze, it never crashed on me on Win7 and so far runs smooth as a baby's bottom on Win8.

Maybe one doesn't. But at leas make sure your 32-bit browser does not crash when run on 64-bit machines. For example, Office 32-bit works just fine on 64-bit machines.

why are plugins platform specific anyway?
i would like to see a 64-bit Chrome, maybe there are benefits since mine tends to use alot of RAM

netsendjoe said,
why are plugins platform specific anyway?

Sounds like an error in Mozilla's XPCOM implementation (JavaScript based plugins are obviously bitness independent...)

Chrome splits every tab and plugin into a different process. If you have single tabs using more than 4GB RAM there is a serious issue with the website you're visiting.

francescob said,
Who cares about 64bit! Why can't we have an 8-bit browser for our Nintendo Entertainment System/Sega Megadrive instead?

Mega Drive's 16 bit man

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

Mega Drive's 16 bit man

GS:mac


There's also a 16bit variant of the NES system (or wasn't it odd that the Super NES was 32bit all of a sudden? )

Shadowzz said,

There's also a 16bit variant of the NES system (or wasn't it odd that the Super NES was 32bit all of a sudden? )

Oh, didn't know that...
Surely every game was compatible with either version right?

GS:mac

Would there really be much of a performance increase by using a 64Bit browser? i cant notice one between IE-32bit and IE-64bit in the real world.

Shikaka said,
Would there really be much of a performance increase by using a 64Bit browser? i cant notice one between IE-32bit and IE-64bit in the real world.

Minimal with the majority of today's web content. Additionally as long as Firefox maintains the older model of a 'document' engine, differences would be minimal.

However, as the web moves forward with far richer HTML5 Apps/RIA and content, there will soon be a point were the native AMD64/EMT64 will offer improvements.

64bit is NOT just about larger address space, native 64bit code has access to other features of the CPU architecture, in addition to using the 64bit space in areas users normally don't notice, like maintain reference/lookup tables, etc.

Give it 5 years and the 10% jump people notice today will be more like 30-40%, especially in dealing with the GPU driver pipeline that you find exposed in IE with uses a newer browser engine model.

64bits programs enjoy a performance boots only for the next case:
a) it uses more than 2gb ram (4gb for linux).
b) it uses a lot of floating point operation.
c) it uses a specific cpu extension that uses 64bits.

But it generates a performance hit:
a) if the application uses less than 2gb ram then, it will use more memory.
b) the code will use more space.
c) some libraries/components/add ins will not be compatible.
d) some cpu extensions and hooks are not compatible with 64bits apps, mainly because "security purpose".

For firefox, there is not a noticeable peformance increase, in fact, it could decrease the performance (in some rigs).

For some reason I have a better performance with the nightly 64bit build and better stability. I usually I have 10-25 tabs open at any time and no reboots. An the damn youtube is not going to crash mode as often as on the 32 bit.

Brony said,
64bits programs enjoy a performance boots only for the next case:
a) it uses more than 2gb ram (4gb for linux).
b) it uses a lot of floating point operation.
c) it uses a specific cpu extension that uses 64bits.

But it generates a performance hit:
a) if the application uses less than 2gb ram then, it will use more memory.
b) the code will use more space.
c) some libraries/components/add ins will not be compatible.
d) some cpu extensions and hooks are not compatible with 64bits apps, mainly because "security purpose".

For firefox, there is not a noticeable peformance increase, in fact, it could decrease the performance (in some rigs).


Wrong (at least on x86) as x86_64 has more CPU registers which allow programs to run faster that their 32bit counterparts...

Shikaka said,
Would there really be much of a performance increase by using a 64Bit browser? i cant notice one between IE-32bit and IE-64bit in the real world.
No, there isn't one. x64 offers more registers indeed, and a few other benefits, but in the end, that will often just give you a 5-10% boost, which is in the "barely noticeable" range. And if you need more than 4 GB RAM and is after the memory allocation limit, you're already in trouble if a browser actually needs more than 4 GB!

Finally, as for Firefox in particular, it's overall slower in 64-bit since the JS engine hasn't been optimized for it.

MFH said,

Wrong (at least on x86) as x86_64 has more CPU registers which allow programs to run faster that their 32bit counterparts...

Only if the application makes use of them, and most so called 64bit applications make almost zero use of any advantages 64bit offers over 32bit and are basically 32bit applications with the 64bit address space. Truly 64bit programmed software/games are noticeable faster then their 32bit counterparts in almost every case and every rig.

Max Norris said,
It takes less time to disable than it did to type this reply.

Some people hate capabilities they don't like nor use.

One size fits everyone (or should at least) /s

GS:mac

grayscale said,
it's not even enabled by default, iirc.

Think you're right, wasn't sure so didn't mention it, I have a lot of custom settings and I honestly couldn't remember what's factory or not anymore without making a new profile.

seta-san said,
why continue the 32 bit development?

/facepalm

Add-ons.
Also, no need to pressure everyone into 64bit.
I know most modern PCs are 64bit, but many can't be bothered to upgrade what would not otherwise need an update.
As long as 32bit machines can reasonable run today's software, for Christ's sake, support it.

GS:mac

that was the same thing that was said on internet explorer. My question is why do we need outdated addons... If the addons are still relavant in todays world then they will simply be updated. The advantage of going to only 64bit is that you get to drop compatibility for a whole bunch of ancient junkware like toolbars, etc.

Quite a few people still use x86 systems (look at the Steam hardware survey, etc), and just because its 64 bit doesn't automagically make it faster or better. (The latest nightly is actually a tad slower.) Not the majority of users, no, but arbitrarily dropping support for a good number of people "just because" is silly, especially when Firefox is feeling the marketshare crunch to begin with. Alienating more users isn't going to help.

seta-san said,
that was the same thing that was said on internet explorer. My question is why do we need outdated addons... If the addons are still relavant in todays world then they will simply be updated. The advantage of going to only 64bit is that you get to drop compatibility for a whole bunch of ancient junkware like toolbars, etc.

Dropping compatibility is not "cool" and advancing, it's retarded if it takes reasonable effort to maintain it.

It's pretty much (besides gaming) what I enjoy about Windows the most to mention an example.
I can literally, with little effort, execute programs that are as old as the stone age.

"The advantage of going to only 64bit is that you get to drop compatibility for a whole bunch of ancient junkware like toolbars, etc."
->How about simply not installing that junkware?
There are MANY relevant addons that frankly don't get updates, not because they are not relevant, but because devs have "moved on".

Also, many niche addons (yeah, I know, we should only ever consider what everyone needs, not what a few need or want :eyeroll:)

The thing about only caring about the majority is that you'll bite yourself.
A LOT of people care about niche things, if we ignore niches too much, we ignore more than a niche of a market, we ignore huge chunks of it.


So speak for yourself when you say there's nothing out there that's not supported anymore and interesting.

GS:mac

I agree.
If anyone is going to say download a Linux disto. It will be 64-bit.
Mac users update every year.
And Windows has been 64-bit since Windows 2003.

32-bit should be shunned

After all Mozilla should be about progress.

ArialBlue said,
I agree.
If anyone is going to say download a Linux disto. It will be 64-bit.
Mac users update every year.
And Windows has been 64-bit since Windows 2003.

32-bit should be shunned

After all Mozilla should be about progress.


You're right.
It's impossible to maintain two flavors of a software.
If you give a crap about 32bit, you cannot possibly care about 64bit at the same time.

Add-ons CANNOT be packaged and distributed for two flavors.

You HAVE to make a choice between legacy support and progressing.

/s
GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

Dropping compatibility is not "cool" and advancing, it's retarded if it takes reasonable effort to maintain it.

It's pretty much (besides gaming) what I enjoy about Windows the most to mention an example.
I can literally, with little effort, execute programs that are as old as the stone age.

"The advantage of going to only 64bit is that you get to drop compatibility for a whole bunch of ancient junkware like toolbars, etc."
->How about simply not installing that junkware?
There are MANY relevant addons that frankly don't get updates, not because they are not relevant, but because devs have "moved on".

Also, many niche addons (yeah, I know, we should only ever consider what everyone needs, not what a few need or want :eyeroll:)

The thing about only caring about the majority is that you'll bite yourself.
A LOT of people care about niche things, if we ignore niches too much, we ignore more than a niche of a market, we ignore huge chunks of it.


So speak for yourself when you say there's nothing out there that's not supported anymore and interesting.

GS:mac

Comparing 'legacy' software support of an OS like Windows to a browser application is a bit of stretch.

Firefox is not truly a 'platform' that needs to maintain backward compatibility, especially when it deals with evolving web standards that are replacing plugin/addon technologies with non-browser specific implementations.

5 years ago, plugins were essential; however, today with the demise of Flash and the need for ancillary utilities for the browser, there is very few plugins that could not be simply recompiled to support the 64bit browser.

Additionally, if 32bit compatibility is TRULY this essential, the Firefox team could build a translation layer to allow continued use of older plugins.

This is where the comparison to Windows fails, because Windows has no need to break legacy functionality due the nature of the platform, and when it does, workarounds are implemented.

Even on Windows x64 (which is an entirely different architecture than x86), the OS maintains the duality with a true 64bit OS and a augmented 32bit subsystem that uses the CPUs switching along with native 64bit calls that increase 32bit application performance. For example many API calls and even RAM read/writes are handed off to native 64bit calls in the NT kernel, sometimes doubling the performance of these operations.

Even Windows x64 that dropped support for the 8/16bit VDM (DOS, Win3.1), Virtual PC/HyperV technologies are provided to ensure that even 30 year old software runs 'natively' and faster than if the same machine was booted directly into the older OSes that the software originally ran on.


Although I support your enthusiasm for maintaining compatibility, there is far less of an argument for a few plugins for a 'Application/Browser' than when dealing with 100s of thousands of applications supported by a platform and a multitude of frameworks.

Glassed Silver said,

You're right.
It's impossible to maintain two flavors of a software.
If you give a crap about 32bit, you cannot possibly care about 64bit at the same time.

Add-ons CANNOT be packaged and distributed for two flavors.

You HAVE to make a choice between legacy support and progressing.

/s
GS:mac


For Mozilla is IT IMPOSSIBLE.

Mozilla thinks that 32-bit is the future.
It is NOT phasing out 32-bit.
It is NOT installing 64-bit flavor of Firefox for 64-bit OS.
It is NOT hiding the downloads for 32-bit Firefox.

It is doing everything possible to NOT transition to 64-bit.

ArialBlue said,

For Mozilla is IT IMPOSSIBLE.

Mozilla thinks that 32-bit is the future.
It is NOT phasing out 32-bit.
It is NOT installing 64-bit flavor of Firefox for 64-bit OS.
It is NOT hiding the downloads for 32-bit Firefox.

It is doing everything possible to NOT transition to 64-bit.


Their lack of pushing x64 does not derive from the possibility or impossibility to support two architectures.

They are simply slacking.
So you're proposing that they should continue slacking, just move their focus away to another field of slacking? How about they stop slacking and start working?

I'm all for Firefox x64, just stating that there's no need to deprecate legacy support.
@thenetavenger:
True words, but although the comparison obviously isn't very perfect, I think the message of "support something as long as the effort is reasonable" applies to x86 plugin support just fine.

The amount of effort it might take might be different to Windows, but then again it's still sound.

GS:mac

64 Bit should not be avoided...

Glassed Silver said,

/facepalm

Add-ons.
Also, no need to pressure everyone into 64bit.
I know most modern PCs are 64bit, but many can't be bothered to upgrade what would not otherwise need an update.
As long as 32bit machines can reasonable run today's software, for Christ's sake, support it.

GS:mac

Arceles said,
64 Bit should not be avoided...


That's true and nowhere did I say it should.

Supporting one thing doesn't mean that something else shouldn't be supported.
This goes both ways.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

/facepalm

Add-ons.
Also, no need to pressure everyone into 64bit.
I know most modern PCs are 64bit, but many can't be bothered to upgrade what would not otherwise need an update.
As long as 32bit machines can reasonable run today's software, for Christ's sake, support it.

GS:mac

Oh yes... because when it becomes apparent that a 32bit application won't be able to handle a certain task in the future due to memory limitations, lets scramble to force everyone over to a buggy, untested, unproven 64bit version in a drastically short period of time... as opposed to gracefully transitioning users to the 64bit version over an extended period of time. That makes a lot of ****ing sense. Lets wait until it's too late... have we forgotten that Firefox used to be a staple of standards or should we just let it fall into irrelevance and get eaten alive by worse browser like IE or Chrome? And trust me, I know what I'm talking about when I throw that claim around, so **** anyone that wants to tell me Chrome is a better browser.

Firefox has certainly lost a step, and someone needs to get beaten for leading it down this path of plagiarism, but before that happens, people like you should have bloody wrenches shoved up your *******s... or maybe you're into that sort of thing?

I swear, I've seen some of the stupidest comments on this site. I don't know why I even bother coming here anymore. I used to provide decent feedback but lately... -_-

And I didn't even ream you for saying "32bit machines". 32bit, regardless of whether it's still used, needs to die so that we can have fewer versions of Windows out there, and less redundancy of effort on behalf of developers, tech support, and finally the end user. Have we all forgotten that 32bit machines have a 4GB ram limitation which affects both the ram and the video card memory? There's a reason we're transitioning to 64bit, dunce. Supporting 32bit for 1 more second prolongs its inevitable demise. ...the enormity if people's stupidity... I swear.

Edited by Captain Peasant, Dec 23 2012, 3:39am :

Captain Peasant said,

Oh yes... because when it becomes apparent that a 32bit application won't be able to handle a certain task in the future due to memory limitations, lets scramble to force everyone over to a buggy, untested, unproven 64bit version in a drastically short period of time... as opposed to gracefully transitioning users to the 64bit version over an extended period of time. That makes a lot of ****ing sense. Lets wait until it's too late... have we forgotten that Firefox used to be a staple of standards or should we just let it fall into irrelevance and get eaten alive by worse browser like IE or Chrome? And trust me, I know what I'm talking about when I throw that claim around, so **** anyone that wants to tell me Chrome is a better browser.

Firefox has certainly lost a step, and someone needs to get beaten for leading it down this path of plagiarism, but before that happens, people like you should have bloody wrenches shoved up your *******s... or maybe you're into that sort of thing?

I swear, I've seen some of the stupidest comments on this site. I don't know why I even bother coming here anymore. I used to provide decent feedback but lately... -_-


Indeed, that's not decent feedback seeing how my opinion raises so much need for self-censorship in your comment.

How about you take a deep long breath and try to understand what I'm actually saying.
Have you read any of my further replies?

Nowhere did I say we shouldn't push x64, but that doesn't mean we have to deprecate everything.
Smooth transition goes in both directions, both deprecation (when needed, read: NEEDED, which is seldom the case) and early development of future technologies.

Firefox should have gone x64 looong ago.

GS:mac

There's no self censorship in my post. This website censors the replies automatically.

Also, no need to pressure everyone into 64bit.

Dunce. Case in point.

Firefox should have gone x64 looong ago.

Which would only strengthen your faulty logic regarding pressuring add-on developers into releasing 64bit versions.

Your response proves you are incapable of a logical debate which is why I will bow out now.

Glassed Silver said,

You're right.
It's impossible to maintain two flavors of a software.
If you give a crap about 32bit, you cannot possibly care about 64bit at the same time.

Add-ons CANNOT be packaged and distributed for two flavors.

You HAVE to make a choice between legacy support and progressing.

/s
GS:mac


You're talking nonsense. I've used the 64bit Nightly for ages until they canceled it around 2 years ago.
Every Addon I used worked like a charm. This was a time when I always had 15-20 addons with my Fx and they worked fine on the standard 32bit, on the 64bit nightly. And nowadays it all works perfectly in Palemoon 64bit.

If the guys from Palemoon can do it without a single issue. Why cant Mozilla?

Shadowzz said,

You're talking nonsense. I've used the 64bit Nightly for ages until they canceled it around 2 years ago.
Every Addon I used worked like a charm. This was a time when I always had 15-20 addons with my Fx and they worked fine on the standard 32bit, on the 64bit nightly. And nowadays it all works perfectly in Palemoon 64bit.

If the guys from Palemoon can do it without a single issue. Why cant Mozilla?

Didn't spot the sarcasm tag, hm?

GS:mac

Tekkerson said,
Just FYI Chrome IS 64-bit on Linux and Mac.

However on OS X it still uses 32bit layers of the OS.

Slapping on support 64bit address space without full 64bit code execution is not truly 64bit processing, just addressing.

This is a limitation of OS X, and how it provides 64bit support, not Chrome.