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.

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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

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.

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 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.

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 :

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

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