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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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

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