So where is the 64-bit version of Firefox? Mozilla gives us an update

In November 2012, Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg made the decision to stop the development of a 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows. This move upset many people inside and outside Mozilla's community and a month later it was announced that development of the 64-bit version had resumed.

It's been over a year since then, and on the surface it would appear that little has changed. The 64-bit port is still only available as a "Nightly" build on Mozilla's FTP site, and there's been no indication that development will be moving forward to the company's more advanced beta channels anytime soon.

We contacted Mozilla for comment and received a response from a spokesperson:

Released versions of Firefox are already fully 64-bit on MacOS X and Linux. For 64-bit Firefox on Windows, we are in the process of setting up our automated testing for this platform to make sure that it gets the same daily testing coverage as all of our other platforms do. Windows 64-bit builds of Firefox are already available in our "Nightly" early tester channel, and we have many testers already using these builds without problems. Once we have continuous testing set up, we should have more news to share about timing for a full 64-bit Firefox release on Windows.

We'll continue to provide updates on Mozilla's quest to release a 64-bit version of Firefox. In the meantime, there are 64-bit variants of Firefox, such as Waterfox, that are currently available for download.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Nokia's Android phone UI comes in to the light, too bad you can't buy it

Next Story

Yahoo Mail finally joins Gmail and Outlook.com in encrypting all emails

97 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

my dream is not to have a single 32 bit program. only visual studio remains 32 bit at this point. with FF going 64 bit, I only have 1 app to go!

neonspark said,
my dream is not to have a single 32 bit program. only visual studio remains 32 bit at this point. with FF going 64 bit, I only have 1 app to go!

I remember reading just before VS2012 came out that they had no plans to release a 64-bit version of VS in the near future

In the real world there are far bigger and more important things to be worked on than 64-bit Windows builds.

Much like the Modern UI builds it is just not a high priority as it is not a highly requested feature from a majority user base.

It would be nice to have a 64-bit release build but it isn't all that important. There isn't anything the 64-bit build can do that the 32-bit build can't.

I use Modern UI as another example because everyone seems to be on the "OMG they are taking forever, Firefox is dead" band wagon however the reality is that Modern UI users are a tiny number of users and while work is being done to make such a build there has to be a balance between how much developer and QA time is invested vs. the actual real world benefit.

The Windows RT user base is small and not growing nearly as fast as Microsoft said it would which puts management off putting any real financial investment into it just yet. This also ties in to why there is little investment into a Modern UI build for regular Windows 8+.

GeekRusty said,
I use Modern UI as another example because everyone seems to be on the "OMG they are taking forever, Firefox is dead" band wagon however the reality is that Modern UI users are a tiny number of users and while work is being done to make such a build there has to be a balance between how much developer and QA time is invested vs. the actual real world benefit.

You can't have it both ways and say that there are barely any users clamoring for the Modern UI version, yet everyone is apparently on the "OMG they are taking forever, Firefox is dead" band wagon. If no-one cares for it then equally no-one's complaining about it either.

GeekRusty said,
The Windows RT user base is small and not growing nearly as fast as Microsoft said it would which puts management off putting any real financial investment into it just yet.

Why are you bringing in Windows RT into the picture? Just to illustrate the point about resource allocation being directly proportional to usage? Not that you necessarily meant this, but I just want to point out that many people mix up WinRT with Windows RT (admittedly Microsoft's own stupid fault), but the Firefox Modern UI version (if and when it ever arrives) will not run on Windows RT. I've seen lots of Surface RT/2 owners getting excited whenever Firefox Metro is mentioned.

Edited by Romero, Jan 8 2014, 8:53pm :

GeekRusty said,
In the real world there are far bigger and more important things to be worked on than 64-bit Windows builds.

Much like the Modern UI builds it is just not a high priority as it is not a highly requested feature from a majority user base.

It would be nice to have a 64-bit release build but it isn't all that important. There isn't anything the 64-bit build can do that the 32-bit build can't.

I use Modern UI as another example because everyone seems to be on the "OMG they are taking forever, Firefox is dead" band wagon however the reality is that Modern UI users are a tiny number of users and while work is being done to make such a build there has to be a balance between how much developer and QA time is invested vs. the actual real world benefit.

The Windows RT user base is small and not growing nearly as fast as Microsoft said it would which puts management off putting any real financial investment into it just yet. This also ties in to why there is little investment into a Modern UI build for regular Windows 8+.

The majority of Windows 8/8.1 users use the 'Modern' version of IE10/11 more than they do the desktop version of IE. I'm typing this now in Modern IE11 x64bit, on a older Notebook.

I do agree that the necessity of a x64 version of Firefox is debatable.

However, if they are running natively 64bit on Linux and OS X, then it is more of a lack of focus rather than more work for the actual release.

Maybe they know they are scooping up the XP crowd with Win7/8 x64 users using Firefox less, so it is not their top priority. However, XP numbers will eventually disappear, and they should be focused on the future, not the past.


You are right to point my mistakes out there. I should have put "because everyone here on Neowin seems ...".

I was not mixing up WinRT vs. Windows RT (although I agree it is a stupid name, similar to Microsoft reusing Surface for their tablet line after using Surface for their table-top touch screen system). What I meant was that the user base for Modern UI apps as the only version is extremely small and not growing as Microsoft said it would. The problem with Modern UI, in my opinion, is that it works on a tablet but it doesn't transfer well to desktop/laptop. I think Microsoft's whole "single experience" push is a huge waste of time. Apple got it right with mixing OS X and iOS features but keeping them separate enough where they need too. Windows 8 is a mess with two UI paradigms which is odd because Modern UI does work well in what it was designed for (touch devices) but they have hurt themselves with this whole "single experience" crap.

GeekRusty said,
Modern UI does work well in what it was designed for (touch devices) but they have hurt themselves with this whole "single experience" crap.

Agree, on touch devices it really is great. I love the intuitive UI on my Surface way more than on my iPads or Galaxy Tabs. Only wish they hadn't mixed up the "close app" and "restart app" functionality with the same drag-down gesture in Win8.1.

Mobius Enigma said,

The majority of Windows 8/8.1 users use the 'Modern' version of IE10/11 more than they do the desktop version of IE.

Anecdotal evidence or personal experience aside, hard numbers? I'm not too sure about this claim unless you qualify it by adding "on a touch device".

Not only that, they really need to add all the (relevant) desktop IE options to the Metro version. Opening up the former just to change some settings and then switching to the latter is bizarre and seems really half-baked like it's a UI in progress (which it clearly is).

Edited by Romero, Jan 8 2014, 8:09pm :

Mobius Enigma said,

The majority of Windows 8/8.1 users use the 'Modern' version of IE10/11 more than they do the desktop version of IE.

You have any source on that? The latest figures I saw from Alexa was less than 1% of Windows 8 users actually use Modern IE for anything at all except for on platforms where Modern IE is the preferred/only solution (such as on Windows RT and Windows Phone).

GeekRusty said,

You have any source on that? The latest figures I saw from Alexa was less than 1% of Windows 8 users actually use Modern IE for anything at all except for on platforms where Modern IE is the preferred/only solution (such as on Windows RT and Windows Phone).

Curious to see what Alexa information you found. (Browser tracking is not something it is normally used for, as they usually use client side utilities/plugins.)

It is actually kind of hard to track IE desktop versus IE modern, as they identify the same. This is why most browser tracking shows them as the same. (There are some javascript tricks, but they aren't 100% reliable, and are too heavy for traffic tracking a browser.)

As for my assertion that 'most' users, the metric is somewhat anecdotal, based on our client usage. (A fairly large number 10K+ - but still anecdotal.)

If the customers have been scared off of Modern Apps, the users still use the Modern version of IE occasionally.

If the customers have been given the 2 minute speech on why they will like the new Start Screen, they will primarily use the Modern version of IE and other Modern Apps.

A lot users also prefer the chromeless/full-screen view, even if they don't care for other Modern Apps.

Unless the Windows 8/8.1 users stays on the desktop 100% of the time, the odds are they are going to be using the modern version of IE mixed in, as all Modern UI Apps that call links open it by default.

I agree with other comments about the Modern IE missing some of the desktop features, and access to options; however, these are not things users access or change on a daily basis. Microsoft based the features missing in the Modern version based on extensive usage metrics, and 99.9% of the users don't use them. (Which is a real number.)

PS Windows Phone doesn't use Modern IE - similar, but still different in WP8 GDR3. They all use the same codebase, so it is kind of semantics, but there are a few differences where IE10 on WP8 bends to the WP model for touch usage instead of the WinRT model.

Mobius Enigma said,
I agree with other comments about the Modern IE missing some of the desktop features, and access to options; however, these are not things users access or change on a daily basis. Microsoft based the features missing in the Modern version based on extensive usage metrics, and 99.9% of the users don't use them. (Which is a real number.)

Yeah, metrics, which is the excuse they trot out every single time as justification for removing features from successive versions of the OS (it was the same answer I got for why certain useful features of XP were missing from Vista/Win7). They seem to conveniently forget that their own success means that even 0.1% of billions equates to millions of users using a feature, which is not a trivial number by any means (besides the fact that I don't even trust the 99.9% number in the first place).

Also whether you need to modify a setting once or repeatedly, if the UX is not good it leaves a lasting impression on the user. The average user complains (justifiably) about why they need to switch to desktop IE or the desktop Control Panel to modify settings, and it further serves to emphasize the split personality of the OS and confuse the user. With Win8.1 they have definitely improved the Metro Control Panel (clearly they know it's an issue, metrics about daily usage of these options notwithstanding), but like I said it's very much an in-progress UI. Problem is first impressions are important and moreover users used to competing offerings nowadays don't have the patience to wait months or years for the next version (it's why MS has switched to a yearly OS update schedule). Given that MS is desperately playing catch-up in the tablet arena and has aspirations to be a devices company they need to iterate and improve their touch UI experience (which I do like but isn't perfect) much faster than their competitors in order to stay relevant and compete effectively.

Edited by Romero, Jan 9 2014, 5:14pm :

I hope Windows 9 will be 64 bit only. It will become extremely lighter and will certainly force all those lazy and whatnot devs who allocate recourses in indifferent projects like Mozilla to build proper x64 builds. The nightly ain't even optimized at all and it's seriously slower than the x86. This is of course purely Mozilla's fault because they don't care.

Raylan Givens said,
I hope Windows 9 will be 64 bit only. It will become extremely lighter and will certainly force all those lazy and whatnot devs who allocate recourses in indifferent projects like Mozilla to build proper x64 builds. The nightly ain't even optimized at all and it's seriously slower than the x86. This is of course purely Mozilla's fault because they don't care.

Keep on dreaming, way way way too much legacy hardware it has to cater to in the corp setting.

A nightly isn't supposed to be optimised. It is designed for "bleeding edge" testing. It is almost always going to be slower than a release build (with the exception of new features which dramatically improve performance). Unless you have a specific reason to run Nightly (or any pre-release build) then you are better off not doing so. It is there to give those who need access to such builds access it is not designed for regular users.

Hello,

Raylan Givens said,
I hope Windows 9 will be 64 bit only.

Ive been saying this for a while. It needs to happen.

Until Microsoft makes the 64 bit only jump, devs arent going to write 64 bit code unless its benefits their application.

Not stated by Mozilla...can one install the 32-bit version of FireFox on a 64-bit machine? If so, then say so on the Mozilla web site. The 64-bit version on a 64-bit machine crashes so frequently, even with minimal add-ons/plug-ins--most of which are automatically installed on installation of applicable application.

One can install the 32-bit version of any Windows program in 64-bit Windows. All of us using a 64-bit version of the OS for years now aren't resorting to running Nightly or third-party versions of Firefox.

I'll be happy when one tab's slow performance (maybe a website that uses Flash or a problematic script) doesn't bring down the whole browser.

Elliot B. said,
I'll be happy when one tab's slow performance (maybe a website that uses Flash or a problematic script) doesn't bring down the whole browser.

You shouldn't really be seeing a plugin or script bring down the whole browser anymore. Since plugins (i.e. flash) are now running in a separate process if that process crashes or hangs it will lock up the browser for a few seconds but then display a "plugin has crashed" error. Same with scripts, if one hangs for whatever reason you should get a prompt about it with the option to wait or to stop the script.

Not an ideal solution but that is the best that can be done at present. Per tab, per plugin, per site, processes are coming however due to the code base being so old and never written with this kind of "a process for everything" design it is taking a long time to re-write.

GeekRusty said,
You shouldn't really be seeing a plugin or script bring down the whole browser anymore. Since plugins (i.e. flash) are now running in a separate process if that process crashes or hangs it will lock up the browser for a few seconds but then display a "plugin has crashed" error. Same with scripts, if one hangs for whatever reason you should get a prompt about it with the option to wait or to stop the script.
Not an ideal solution but that is the best that can be done at present. Per tab, per plugin, per site, processes are coming however due to the code base being so old and never written with this kind of "a process for everything" design it is taking a long time to re-write.
If I'm playing FarmVIlle and am listening to music via. YouTube in another tab and the game is doing some heavy loading, the music in the other tab can temporarily stop. Very annoying.

Edited by Andre S., Jan 8 2014, 8:06pm :

GeekRusty said,
Have you tested this with Chrome or IE as well? I ask because that sounds more like a Flash issue than a Firefox issue.

Only happens in Firefox. It's not a Flash issue.

Yeah, 64-bit browsers are overrated. IE used to have a separate 64-bit flavor, but Microsoft folded it with the 32-bit one and now IE is sort of a 32-bit and 64-bit hybrid...

It's actually 64-bit by default now but tab processes can still be made 32-bit for compatibility with older add-ons.

Romero said,
It's actually 64-bit by default now but tab processes can still be made 32-bit for compatibility with older add-ons.

As far as I am aware Firefox still does not support tab processes and uses just 1 cpu still. As soon as this changes I may use it again but that is one of my main irritations with it as it is 2014 now.

Romero said,
It's actually 64-bit by default now but tab processes can still be made 32-bit for compatibility with older add-ons.

Yes, that is what I mean by the hybrid model, the browser runs a 64-bit process, but the tabs run 32-bit processes. Most of my tabs are 32-bit though.

sinetheo said,

As far as I am aware Firefox still does not support tab processes and uses just 1 cpu still. As soon as this changes I may use it again but that is one of my main irritations with it as it is 2014 now.

Yeah, my comment was about IE in response to FalseAgent. Electrolysis ( https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis ) is in development and I believe will debut in its final form soon. browser.tabs.remote is already present in 26.0's about:config

Browsers with TPI don't really need to be 64 bit. I don't know if Firefox has TPI yet, but if not they should work on implementing that rather than going 64 bit. Once you have TPI you're unlikely for any single tab to hit the 2GB address limit.

"So where is the 64-bit version of Firefox? Mozilla gives us an update" ...not really! There's nothing new in this article!! There's still no firm or estimated release date for the 64-bit Windows version!

So the "update" is really that there is no update!!?

" we are in the process of setting up our automated testing for this platform to make sure that it gets the same daily testing coverage as all of our other platforms do."
That's the new info

"in the process" means what exactly? Haven't they been "in the process" of doing this for the past so many years?

Hello,

GreatMarkO said,
"So where is the 64-bit version of Firefox? Mozilla gives us an update" ...not really! There's nothing new in this article!! There's still no firm or estimated release date for the 64-bit Windows version!

So the "update" is really that there is no update!!?


Same thing I thought. I put a similar comment in another article and it was removed and Neobond told me to click on the "report a problem with the article" next time and state it there. I did but it seems John hasnt ack it or something

Without getting into computer platform flame warz: The fact is that the Windows PC market is still in the process of being dragged into the 21st century standard of 64-bit computing. I don't know why. I'm just glad that I don't have to care.

Therefore, I can see the point in delaying going 64-bit with Firefox for Windows. If the 64-bit version was offered, even as a choice alongside a 32-bit version, we know full well that granny would download the 64-bit version onto her 32-bit architecture Windows box and freak out that it didn't work. That's never fun.

It's possible to detect 64-bit Windows OS via user-agent and serve 64-bit browser only in that case.

Opera did it when it was on its own engine (up to 12 version).

This is where the stub installer that Mozilla have been using for a while comes in to play. 32-bit or 64-bit it will pick whatever is the right version to install once the stub installer runs on the machine. Which version gets installed will be totally transparent.

DerekCurrie said,
Without getting into computer platform flame warz: The fact is that the Windows PC market is still in the process of being dragged into the 21st century standard of 64-bit computing. I don't know why. I'm just glad that I don't have to care.

Therefore, I can see the point in delaying going 64-bit with Firefox for Windows. If the 64-bit version was offered, even as a choice alongside a 32-bit version, we know full well that granny would download the 64-bit version onto her 32-bit architecture Windows box and freak out that it didn't work. That's never fun.

you're hilarious. phone OSs are mostly 32 bit. this doesn't make them 20th century. more bits is just more bits unless you have a good use for them. you can't generalize like this. by your logic 128 bit processors, which do exist should be where we all need to be even if there is no benefit to 99.999999% of use cases.

Isn't OSS great? We have a 64bit cell phone OS, and yet one OSS group seems so incompetent they can't flip a switch and compile as 64bit.

There's always a chance that some absent minded developer didn't use SizeOf in a crucial, but obscure section. For example.

WhatTheSchmidt said,
OK, so they have a bug. Find and fix it. FF is a year late with a Metro browser. They release a 64 bit browser for two (relatively) small OSes, but cant get the one with the highest market share? For all we hear about how great open source is, that any time there are millions of developers waiting to spring into action to write the code and fix bugs, they are not a poster child for the OSS movement.

Firefox, the healthcare.gov of browsers (OK, maybe FF is not **that** bad)

Mozilla is by FAR the smallest player in the who's who of browsers. The IE, Chromium and Safari teams have multi-billion dollar companies behind them, as well as the fact that two of those players have the SAME rendering engine underneath so the work is shared between them. The fact that Mozilla, a (relatively) small non-profit organization, is able to run in third place against the likes of Google and Microsoft is enormously impressive in my opinion.

Regardless, that's not the point. Mozilla have a 64-bit version of their browser. They just don't have the QA set up for it yet. The Firefox source code has built as a 64-bit binary for literally years (see: Waterfox, Pale Moon). The also have their nightly 64-bit builds as well. The only thing they lack is the test framework for it. You're more than welcome to download a copy of the 64-bit nightly (or Waterfox or Pale Moon) and run it for yourself.

Regarding the Metro update, you have to consider that Modern UI is a Windows-only feature, so it takes time to ensure that the Metro changes do not adversely affect the other-OS builds of Firefox, or ideally doesn't impact them at all. Proper Modern UI integration is a significant undertaking for a browser development team that requires multi-platform compatibility.

Majesticmerc said,

Snip

I am joking above (mostly), but isn't this exactly why OSS is supposed to be the best way for software development? That there are thousands of developers just waiting for some hot-shot project to donate their time to write code and fix bugs, and for those who can't code they are more than welcome to do QA and create the rock-solid product that OSS is supposedly legendary for? FF is one of the most well known OSS projects and they once had a large portion of the market, but they have been steadily been falling behind with many delays.

And what does "Modern UI is a Windows-only feature" mean? Every platform is a platform-only feature. A UI cannot be written once and deployed on every platform unless you are using a platform agnostic library (which usually are bad). I cannot use IB on a Mac, and it just works on Windows. I need to build a separate UI layer for each. Did it take this long to write the interface for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android?

WhatTheSchmidt said,

I am joking above (mostly), but isn't this exactly why OSS is supposed to be the best way for software development? That there are thousands of developers just waiting for some hot-shot project to donate their time to write code and fix bugs, and for those who can't code they are more than welcome to do QA and create the rock-solid product that OSS is supposedly legendary for? FF is one of the most well known OSS projects and they once had a large portion of the market, but they have been steadily been falling behind with many delays.

And what does "Modern UI is a Windows-only feature" mean? Every platform is a platform-only feature. A UI cannot be written once and deployed on every platform unless you are using a platform agnostic library (which usually are bad). I cannot use IB on a Mac, and it just works on Windows. I need to build a separate UI layer for each. Did it take this long to write the interface for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android?

Firefox uses XUL/XBL for the user interface which is their own cross-platform UI library. It is the reason why Firefox always looked out of place on OS X as it wasn't all that great when it came to acting like a real Cocoa application.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

I am joking above (mostly), but isn't this exactly why OSS is supposed to be the best way for software development? That there are thousands of developers just waiting for some hot-shot project to donate their time to write code and fix bugs, and for those who can't code they are more than welcome to do QA and create the rock-solid product that OSS is supposedly legendary for? FF is one of the most well known OSS projects and they once had a large portion of the market, but they have been steadily been falling behind with many delays.

There are thousands of people submitting bug reports, patches, etc, to the project every month, but we've got to bear in mind that at the end of a release cycle, it's Mozilla that has to stand behind their product. To do that, it's very worth their while to have a proper automated test setup so that in the face of a person having an issue, Mozilla can refer to their test framework and say "this test proves that the bug isn't in our software". Automated testing also provides assurances that someone's patch doesn't create issues in a 64-bit build that isn't present in a 32-bit build. At this level, it's not just a case of putting out the release and waiting for the bug reports to roll in. Imagine if Microsoft did that with Windows!

Whether or not Mozilla are willing to outsource that to the community, I do not know.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

And what does "Modern UI is a Windows-only feature" mean? Every platform is a platform-only feature. A UI cannot be written once and deployed on every platform unless you are using a platform agnostic library (which usually are bad). I cannot use IB on a Mac, and it just works on Windows. I need to build a separate UI layer for each. Did it take this long to write the interface for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android?

Indeed, you're absolutely right about UI's being platform specific. Mozilla handle this with their XULRunner UI engine (https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/XUL) which run's on almost any platform. The complication with the Modern UI changes likely comes from the lower level of OS integration that is required. XULRunner won't handle things like live tiles, that kind of thing, so all that stuff needs to be added for the Windows-specific version of Firefox. They also need to ensure that the Windows version of Firefox is backwards compatible with pre-Metro versions of Windows (7, Vista, XP).

I'd imagine that they've probably had similar difficulties with the other OS's as well, but it's not noticable nowadays because the porting to those platforms happened years ago. Certainly the Android version of Firefox was a very long time coming.

Majesticmerc said,

I'd imagine that they've probably had similar difficulties with the other OS's as well, but it's not noticable nowadays because the porting to those platforms happened years ago. Certainly the Android version of Firefox was a very long time coming.

Writing the code to handle the rendering would be complicated because they would need to add another way of doing the placement, etc., But adding the frame, the tile (which would not even be necessary), etc. would be the easiest part. You call an API to get back an XML fragment, you set your text to display, and call an API to set the look of the tile. Literally 1/4 day work to code and test, if that much.

The point is we have been made many promises by OSS, promises that make it better than the model Microsoft or Apple uses. But I don't see those promises being kept.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

Writing the code to handle the rendering would be complicated because they would need to add another way of doing the placement, etc., But adding the frame, the tile (which would not even be necessary), etc. would be the easiest part. You call an API to get back an XML fragment, you set your text to display, and call an API to set the look of the tile. Literally 1/4 day work to code and test, if that much.

The point is we have been made many promises by OSS, promises that make it better than the model Microsoft or Apple uses. But I don't see those promises being kept.

Why don't you help out then if it is just a few hours of work? Would look amazing on your resume to say you were a lead developer on the Firefox Modern UI.

As for un-kept promises every company is guilty of that. Apple promised a 64-bit version of Carbon then killed it off. Microsoft promised WinFS then killed it off. Etc.

WhatTheSchmidt said,
Isn't OSS great? We have a 64bit cell phone OS, and yet one OSS group seems so incompetent they can't flip a switch and compile as 64bit.

"flip a switch" -clueless non developer comment. enough said.

neonspark said,

"flip a switch" -clueless non developer comment. enough said.

I have been a software dev for over 20 years. And no, I am not one of those "I write HTML pages and therefore am a dev" developers. No, you cannot always just flip a switch and it is now 64bit, but for the most part, it should be. If you wrote your code properly, didn't try to trick the compiler, then flipping a switch is usually 90% of the work. If it takes them this long to get a 64bit build working, then the FF codebase must be horrendous.

GeekRusty said,

Why don't you help out then if it is just a few hours of work? Would look amazing on your resume to say you were a lead developer on the Firefox Modern UI.

As for un-kept promises every company is guilty of that. Apple promised a 64-bit version of Carbon then killed it off. Microsoft promised WinFS then killed it off. Etc.

Because:
1) I have too many projects going on to contribute
2) I don't use FF so why contribute to a project I don't care about
3) If I take time away from my family, then I want to be paid for that time so I can better my family.

As for closed source companies not shipping promised code, yep, you are correct. And the OSS community uses that as a way to claim that OSS is better. And yet, they are not and this shows that.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

I have been a software dev for over 20 years. And no, I am not one of those "I write HTML pages and therefore am a dev" developers. No, you cannot always just flip a switch and it is now 64bit, but for the most part, it should be. If you wrote your code properly, didn't try to trick the compiler, then flipping a switch is usually 90% of the work. If it takes them this long to get a 64bit build working, then the FF codebase must be horrendous.

The Fx code base is pretty horrible. A lot of it comes from the old Netscape code base from the mid-to-late 90s. The two biggest issues when compiling Firefox for x64 is some of the platform specific Assembly (around 1% of Firefox is in x86 Assembly) and C. Most of this has been worked on to resolve which is why it is possible to have 64-bit builds in the first place however it is not a bulletproof solution.

GeekRusty said,

The Fx code base is pretty horrible. A lot of it comes from the old Netscape code base from the mid-to-late 90s. The two biggest issues when compiling Firefox for x64 is some of the platform specific Assembly (around 1% of Firefox is in x86 Assembly) and C. Most of this has been worked on to resolve which is why it is possible to have 64-bit builds in the first place however it is not a bulletproof solution.

Inheriting problems is not FF's fault (although it says a lot about Netscape and developers). I heard that the code from Netscape was not the best, but I thought they rewrote much of it. But it has been 11.5 years, and they still do not have this stuff sorted out yet? I know nobody likes to do the grunt work, but put some people on cleaning up bad code.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

Inheriting problems is not FF's fault (although it says a lot about Netscape and developers). I heard that the code from Netscape was not the best, but I thought they rewrote much of it. But it has been 11.5 years, and they still do not have this stuff sorted out yet? I know nobody likes to do the grunt work, but put some people on cleaning up bad code.

You have to remember that Firefox is a non-profit organisation. The IE team are lucky as they only have to support Windows (and very recent versions of Windows at that) and have a billion dollar company behind them. Chrome is in a similar position financially plus they are also a pretty young project so were able to design around much more modern ways of doing things.

Firefox isn't perfect but they have done a lot of good in putting pressure on Microsoft to start making IE better. Remember how awful things were with IE6 and 7? God those were painful days. Mozilla manage to get a pretty amazing amount of products out of the door considering their size and financial availability.

Also I can fire up Firefox right now and get performance as good as I get with IE and Chrome (in general, yes other browsers are faster in specific benchmarks, etc.) which is amazing to me.

GeekRusty said,

snip

This is the whole point I am trying to make - they are a "non-profit" (that actually makes a lot of profit, or at least did) who is going under the name of open source. And we know how the OSS people like to talk. By simply giving away the source makes it a great product.

But instead we are getting a bunch of excuses, the inherited code was bad, they are non-profit, they are going up against corporations with money, and so on. The promises of OSS were that those limitations didn't matter, but now they are excuses.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

Inheriting problems is not FF's fault (although it says a lot about Netscape and developers). I heard that the code from Netscape was not the best, but I thought they rewrote much of it. But it has been 11.5 years, and they still do not have this stuff sorted out yet? I know nobody likes to do the grunt work, but put some people on cleaning up bad code.

For a developer that has almost as much time developing as I have living you should know the reality of this stuff far better than you're eluding to here...

All old applications carry code from earlier versions. This is a basic principle of software engineering. You don't throw out working code. This is why you can find vestiges of the first version of Windows NT written in the late 80s in Windows 8. You can bet that IE has lots of cruft from its old days still lingering as well. To say Mozilla or Netscape or any set of developers were silly for not throwing out everything and starting over is very naive. In fact, Netscape is a classic reminder of why you shouldn't do this. As this is widely considered the reason for their demise.

You also can't make wild claims about how easy it is to do something in a code base you've never worked on. There is no such thing as "just flip a switch" or "that will only take a minute" unless you know the system itself.

Just because Firefox developers may have not made an engineering decision you like doesn't mean they made an incorrect one. They know the problems they were addressing far better than you do (as you weren't in the room to get the back story on why x was done x way).

So stop with the foolish statements. You're undermining your credibility.

LogicalApex said,
Snip

I understand the reality very well. The issue is that over and over again we hear how OSS is so much better than closed source because these issues do not exist. And when they are shown to exist, then excuses are made and blame is turned around and put on others. The only foolish statements and credibility being undermined is that of OSS by those who continuously put OSS forward as the best and only way. And we are seeing that OSS development is no different than closed source.

When Chrome finally decides to have its own proxy settings rather than sharing IE's, which reduces it to a reskinned IE, I might consider a move. Sadly nothing else is worth dumping Firefox for.

Firefox has been trolling the user for few years already that they will move on to 64 bit ASAP! But it's freaking the year of 2014 and the promised made by them is nothing but disappointment.

I started to used firefox since it came out shortly and was quite impressed with the performance. But many of us noticed that the myriad of plugin gradually not compatible with every latest version of firefox and we're frustrated every time if there is a new version approaching. Besides, firefox architecture isn't multiprocess and often feel hang if enormous of tab is being used.

Of course, firefox does have some few advantages when it comes to theming and those fancy little animation can create some good looking browser but performance is a major concern by enabling it.

I have more reason to share with you but i try to keep it short and let me reiterate that firefox is pretty much DONE! The smartphone architecture is on the verge to 64-bit journey and firefox will happy to announce that by this time next year they will official release a 64-bit version of firefox for windows.

Edited by Master of Earth, Jan 8 2014, 6:37pm :

Using the same proxy settings and certificates as the OS doesn't make it a reskinned IE. If it used the same rendering and javascript engines then it would be.

Master of Earth said,

Never really had problems with extensions not working when FF is upgraded. Used to be a big PITA years ago, but they have been doing pretty good with keeping things compatible. Same with the ones creating the extensions. And if FF never releases 64bit, then it still will not be going anywhere...at least not very soon.

More software in 64 bit means we can completely move on to the new architecture, whether it has immediate impact or not. It's for the future. Won't someone think of the children?

Yes, 64-bit children will be so much better with so many customization opportunities! Tired of all the obsolete 46-bit/chromosomal kids running around. Get off my lawn!

I personally don't have a 64bit OS yet, but my dad was having trouble with his Java install. After some investigation I found out it was because his Java install was 64 bit and his browser was 32 (Chrome). As a result, despite his java being up to date, whenever he used Chrome it would secretly run a hugely outdated version. I didn't realize these browsers didn't have 64 bit options, but it would help prevent this confusion+risk of serious security problems for people that are computer illiterate like my dad, and the need for two java installations.

darkpuma said,
I personally don't have a 64bit OS yet, but my dad was having trouble with his Java install. After some investigation I found out it was because his Java install was 64 bit and his browser was 32 (Chrome). As a result, despite his java being up to date, whenever he used Chrome it would secretly run a hugely outdated version. I didn't realize these browsers didn't have 64 bit options, but it would help prevent this confusion+risk of serious security problems for people that are computer illiterate like my dad, and the need for two java installations.

If I were you I would uninstall java. It is dangerous to have on the web browser as no applets have used it on the web in a very long time.

sinetheo said,

If I were you I would uninstall java. It is dangerous to have on the web browser as no applets have used it on the web in a very long time.

Huh? I dunno about the average person but I use it at least once a day...

riahc3 said,
Hello,

Why is anyone even remotely intrested in a 64-browser?

Don't know, if a stable 64bit version of my browser of choice existed i would use it, however its not something i've ever cared about either way.

I've never really understood the fascination with always having the latest nightly builds either.

Hello,

InsaneNutter said,

Don't know, if a stable 64bit version of my browser of choice existed i would use it, however its not something i've ever cared about either way.

I've never really understood the fascination with always having the latest nightly builds either.


You dont know why yet you would use a browser build that you dont care about?

riahc3 said,
Hello,

You dont know why yet you would use a browser build that you dont care about?

I'm agreeing i dont really see the big deal about a 64bit browser, however 64bit apps are supposed to perform better (in theory) so why not use it if it was available?

Take Microsoft Office, I use the 64bit version of it because its available. However i notice no difference what so ever compared to the 32bit version (for my casual use). So i wouldn't really be that bothered if a 64bit version existed or not at this point.

Office / web browsers would probably never see the performance increases that the Dolphin Emulator got when the first 64bit version was released.

Never much had a desire for it myself, Waterfox and the other custom 64 bit builds more often than not performs slower (on my system, at least on benchmarks) than the 32 bit variant, and never had the desire to run with a gazillion tabs open at once.. once in a blue moon it'll break a gig memory in use, but that's super rare for me. Chromium, sure, that thing eats memory, but meh for x64 Firefox.

There's not much point really. x86-64 processors can run x86 code without performance impact and there's little to gain from using 64bit instructions. In fact, it increases the instruction size which may even have a negative effect on performance.

It's cool that they're making it available but there's just not really much reason to do so.

Ambroos said,
There is no point to switching to 64bit if you don't need the increased address space.

The 64-bit version would have better security than the 32-bit version.

Ambroos said,
Exactly. There is no point to switching to 64bit if you don't need the increased address space.

there's more to x64 then address space....

I don't quite agree. When a program is running in 64-bit mode, it has access to twice the amount of registers for both general purpose and for SSE and the general purpose registers are twice as many. This will allow the code to digest more data at a time without having to resort to the same amount of variables. Registers are inside the CPU but variables are stored in RAM and cache.

The other good thing is that if a 64-bit program has a security flow in form of a buffer overflow and someone some malicious page manages to get code into the gaping hole, the code has to be 64-bit otherwise it won't work.This makes it more difficult to write universal malicious code. 64-bit code has many benefits in terms of raw computing capabilities.

The benefits has nothing to do with the increased address space. The memory benefits are just one point, it's not only the address bus that has been widened but everything else has widened in terms of general purpose registers (plain data and integer), the amount of available register space is four times larger. The amount of SIMD-registers (used by SSE) is twice as large and some instructions and new features are only available in 64-bit mode.

The increase in execution speeds are not significant enough to be visible to the user but the improvements are there, down at the register level.

There is due to plugins. I had to install the 32 and 64 bit Java in order to make it work with Firefox and other tools that need 64. I ended up having to drop Firefox anyway when they started blocking Java versions that I needed.

Mr. Hand said,
There is due to plugins. I had to install the 32 and 64 bit Java in order to make it work with Firefox and other tools that need 64. I ended up having to drop Firefox anyway when they started blocking Java versions that I needed.

I'm not sure you made the right choice there.

yowanvista said,
I don't quite agree. When a program is running in 64-bit mode, it has access to twice the amount of registers for both general purpose and for SSE and the general purpose registers are twice as many. This will allow the code to digest more data at a time without having to resort to the same amount of variables. Registers are inside the CPU but variables are stored in RAM and cache.

The other good thing is that if a 64-bit program has a security flow in form of a buffer overflow and someone some malicious page manages to get code into the gaping hole, the code has to be 64-bit otherwise it won't work.This makes it more difficult to write universal malicious code. 64-bit code has many benefits in terms of raw computing capabilities.

The benefits has nothing to do with the increased address space. The memory benefits are just one point, it's not only the address bus that has been widened but everything else has widened in terms of general purpose registers (plain data and integer), the amount of available register space is four times larger. The amount of SIMD-registers (used by SSE) is twice as large and some instructions and new features are only available in 64-bit mode.

The increase in execution speeds are not significant enough to be visible to the user but the improvements are there, down at the register level.


Those things are true, but most don't really apply for a browser. When you're working with software that really does heavy computation there are obvious benefits to 64bit, but for Firefox it'd require a lot of additional optimization.

I've seen the same with Media Player Classic Home Cinema and the LAV decoders that come with it. The 32bit version has always been faster and more stable, even on 64bit systems, simply because in terms of development and optimization it's been ahead by a lot. 64bit isn't gaining traction there because there are almost no benefits to it. Most SIMD instructions can be accessed just fine from 32bit-code.

Ambroos said,

Those things are true, but most don't really apply for a browser. When you're working with software that really does heavy computation there are obvious benefits to 64bit, but for Firefox it'd require a lot of additional optimization.

I've seen the same with Media Player Classic Home Cinema and the LAV decoders that come with it. The 32bit version has always been faster and more stable, even on 64bit systems, simply because in terms of development and optimization it's been ahead by a lot. 64bit isn't gaining traction there because there are almost no benefits to it. Most SIMD instructions can be accessed just fine from 32bit-code.

Actually, there can be some fairly significant benefits when using x64 and the 3-operand VEX-encoded versions of the existing SSE instruction sets - the inverse of which (x86 + VEX) can actually result in regressions.

Ambroos said,
There's not much point really. x86-64 processors can run x86 code without performance impact and there's little to gain from using 64bit instructions. In fact, it increases the instruction size which may even have a negative effect on performance.

It's cool that they're making it available but there's just not really much reason to do so.

I don't see that as a reason not to do it. I should have the option to choose 64 bit. we don't know how the platform will evolve as MSFT focuses efforts on it and away from 32 bit windows specially in the areas of security.

Ambroos said,
Exactly. There is no point to switching to 64bit if you don't need the increased address space.

I am going to assume you know better...

However, every time I see someone repeat that phrase, it takes me back to Apple's response to not having a 64bit OS. They were wrong to make people believe the 'address space' lie, and it is strange to see people still repeat it.

(A few years prior, Intel also waged a war against AMD64 with arguments that it was just more address space, which also wasn't true.)


PS
As for everyone saying a 64bit version would use a lot more RAM, they don't seem to understand the actual consumption difference of the extra bits.

For example: How much extra space is actually used, the fact it doesn't have to allocate unused 64bit space or waste bits for data, nor how Windows x64 works with 64bit code to help to reduce the footprint difference.

IE11 32bit Desktop - 39mb
IE11 64bit Desktop - 45mb (This is not a huge difference.)

If a 64bit browser would be a memory problem, then Microsoft would not default to the 64bit version, and Windows 8 does default to the 64bit version; even when it is running on devices like the Surface Pro and other x64 tablets.

There are reasons but they're not very relevant, especially not at this point. I know what I'm talking about, I'm reasonably familiar with the x86 instruction set (did some programming in assembly two years ago). It's just that if it takes a lot of testing and work for Mozilla to get a 64bit build up and running there's not much point, since there aren't any clear benefits at this point.

Ambroos said,
There are reasons but they're not very relevant, especially not at this point. I know what I'm talking about, I'm reasonably familiar with the x86 instruction set (did some programming in assembly two years ago). It's just that if it takes a lot of testing and work for Mozilla to get a 64bit build up and running there's not much point, since there aren't any clear benefits at this point.

There is a lot of complexity that gets involved when dealing with more than just CPU instructions. Especially when dealing with GPU rendering, drivers, etc.

A browser deals with more than just optimized assembly code, and depends on other systems in the OS that if it can shove data at 64bits does offer a benefit.

With Firefox trying to use the newer Direct2D drawing modes, it would benefit a bit more by being 64bit than just its own code execution on the CPU.

As for actual performance gains, they are still small, but as others have pointed out, 64bit processes on Windows can be significantly more secure.

In just some random testing, IE 32bit on x64 versus IE 64bit on x64 shows the 32bit version to be 5-20% slower depending on how graphically rich the content is and how much FP is being used that also benefits from being 64bit.

It is still just strange they would commit to 64bit on other OSes, and leave Windows behind, when x64 Windows was around for a long time now (over 10 years) - even before OS X 64bit.

Ambroos said,
There are reasons but they're not very relevant, especially not at this point. I know what I'm talking about, I'm reasonably familiar with the x86 instruction set (did some programming in assembly two years ago). It's just that if it takes a lot of testing and work for Mozilla to get a 64bit build up and running there's not much point, since there aren't any clear benefits at this point.

A modern browser is much like an OS really. Especially with the push for more applications running via them and for JavaScript heavy pages pushing more work client side. I can't see how you could argue that a platform shouldn't advance... Especially when such a platform is a gateway used by many other applications.

Even if you just looked at the address space side of things (and 64bit includes a LOT more than this as has been mentioned above)... To say that there is no need for the enhanced space doesn't make a whole lot of sense. How can you make the argument that there is no application that could exhaust the memory footprint of a 32bit browser (which is less than 2GB on Windows for a single process) is beyond me. It is a claim of future seeing and no one can see the future (no matter what they may say to the contrary).

If you were talking about Notepad I still wouldn't agree with you... It is conceivable that as computing power increases, along with connection speeds, that the size and depth of applications running in the browser will increase along with it.

Ambroos said,
There's not much point really. x86-64 processors can run x86 code without performance impact and there's little to gain from using 64bit instructions. In fact, it increases the instruction size which may even have a negative effect on performance.

It's cool that they're making it available but there's just not really much reason to do so.


That makes little sense. For example, I did not upgrade to a 64bit linux kernel/libraries/applications just so I have to install 32bit libraries again. The only remaining use for 32bit libraries is old binaries that have no 64bit versions. 32bit is like windows XP. It's a thing of the past. It's only useful for phones. For desktops, everyone has switched to 64bit operating systems.
Your windows 7 or 8 would be a lot leaner if it did not expose 32bit compatibility.

Mr. Hand said,
There is due to plugins. I had to install the 32 and 64 bit Java in order to make it work with Firefox and other tools that need 64. I ended up having to drop Firefox anyway when they started blocking Java versions that I needed.

IIRC I thought that plugin's with Firefox ran as a separate process thus you could have a 64bit browser with a 32bit plugin.