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Mozilla The Internet

Mozilla Mulls Dropping Firefox For Win2K, Early XP 455

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the upgrade-or-die dept.
CWmike writes "Mozilla is pondering dropping support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP without Service Pack 3 when it ships the follow-up to Firefox 3.5 in 2010, show discussions on the mozilla.dev.planning forum by developers and Mozilla executives, including the company's chief engineer and its director of Firefox. 'Raise the minimum requirements on Gecko 1.9.2 (and any versions of Firefox built on 1.9.2) for Windows builds to require Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher,' said Michael Conner, one of the company's software engineers, to start the discussion. Mozilla is currently working on Gecko 1.9.1, the engine that powers Firefox 3.5, the still-in-development browser the company hopes to release at some point in the second quarter. Gecko 1.9.2, and the successor to Firefox 3.5 built on it — dubbed 'Firefox.next' and code named 'Namoroka' — are slated to wrap up in 'early-to-mid 2010,' according to Mozilla."
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Mozilla Mulls Dropping Firefox For Win2K, Early XP

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  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:04PM (#27578289)

    Did Mozilla get taken over by Microsoft or something?

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yppupcinataS'> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:11PM (#27578413) Journal

      Ever try running Firefox 3 on a version of Linux from 2003 or 2004? Get ready to build Gnome from source, because the versions (of Gnome) that are compatible with distro's of that age don't support Firefox versions higher than 2.

      XP is what, 4 years older than that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

        Oh yea, if you're running a Mac, you need OS X 10.4 (Tiger, released in 2005) or better.

        Why should windows get off so easy, eh?

        (On reflection, I think it's GTK or GLib that you have to upgrade to make firefox 3 work on an older linux distro)

    • by Twigmon (1095941) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:12PM (#27578439) Homepage

      Just a quick note for clarification, only gecko 1.9.2 and firefox built on that version of gecko (firefox 3.6?) will lack support for 2000 and xp. The development (3.5) and current version (3) will likely still be supported and still receive updates.

      I actually agree with this move - it adds time/bloat/etc for each platform you want to support. By choosing to drop some of the less used platforms, assuming by then xp won't be used much, you can really save on development time/etc.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Did Mozilla get taken over by Microsoft or something?

      Amen brother. What kind of moron had the idea not to support XP SP2?

      You might as well drop Vista support as well. And Linux. Just move to Haiku and die like you deserve for thoughts like that.

    • by John Whitley (6067) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:24PM (#27578663) Homepage

      "forcing developers to support aged buggy platforms with dropping adoption levels"

      There, fixed that for ya. Really, it's disingenuous to whine about there being a user impact when dropping support for these platforms without also acknolwedging the ongoing support cost to Mozilla's finite development and QA resources.

      WinOld users will still be free to use Firefox 3.5, and will get updates for a good while. And since the source code is available, users of Win 2000 through XP SP 2 can band together to produce their own updates if so desired.

      However, my bet is on no one caring enough to waste the time or energy.

    • Did Mozilla get taken over by Microsoft or something?

      Why does dropping support for a 10 year old OS automatically mean a bad thing? Perhaps the peeps involved in Mozilla development realized that fewer OS's to support means more resources can be dedicated to moving forward with the app.

      Honestly the only real flaw in my theory is that it could applied to Microsoft, too.

      • What possible components can firefox need from SP3? WMP 11 ? Some obscure api somewhere? Or is it that not one can be bothered to keep a VMware XPsp2 system running to test with.

        I bet there still will be more sp2 systems out there than PPC macs.

        Or even PPC linux for that matter.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          What possible components can firefox need from SP3?

          Vulnerabilities that the various service packs fix.

          Or is it that not one can be bothered to keep a VMware XPsp2 system running to test with.

          As I've already stated, it takes resources to do that. Every OS they have to test ... why am I explaining the obvious?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kneo24 (688412)

            why am I explaining the obvious?

            It's Slashdot, the land of knee-jerk reactions to things they don't want to really think about.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't get what feature is available in XP SP3 and above that would justify the change? Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Both Win2k and XP are in "extended support" mode, according to MS. I'm not quite sure how MS can justify this for an OS that is still being sold by MS.

    The Mozilla foundation won't be the first to make this decision -- for example, recent iTunes releses haven't run in Win2k and Windows Defender won't install on Win2k (unless you edit the MSI file, after which it will install and run fine under Win2k).

    • Because it doesn't really need any more updates.

      They'll continue security patches until 2014 or something crazy like that.

      You just won't get any more bug fixes. And I would like to think that after almost 10 years you've gotten enough bug fixes to be happy.

  • by cjjjer (530715) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (rejjjc)> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:14PM (#27578467)
    ...and stop supporting 2000/XP all together, we need to get rid of any MS destop OS that can run IE6.
  • by linebackn (131821) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:23PM (#27578639)

    It used to be that one of the big selling points of Mozilla/Firefox was that it could run on almost any OS! Mac, Windows (95 and NT 3.51 and up), Linux, BeOS, OS/2, Solaris, and more!

    To me this meant I could go to just about any computer, use Firefox, and have every web page render the same regardless of the OS. And I didn't have to worry about purchasing or learning a new OS just to browse a web site.

    What happened to all of that?

    I would almost think that with the economy as it is, Mozilla would want to keep Firefox as popular as possible by keeping it running on all these older computers out there that will NOT be replaced any time in the near future.

    And personally, I'm still disappointed there is no Windows 9x version any more. Thank goodness for SeaMonkey 1.1.x and Opera!

    • by drwtsn32 (674346)

      It used to be that one of the big selling points of Mozilla/Firefox was that it could run on almost any OS! ....

      What happened to all of that?

      Not having to ensure compatibility with really old operating systems enables the developers to spend more time adding features and capabilities, for one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324)

        Oh, so that's why Opera is less feat.....wait.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TeXMaster (593524)

      It used to be that one of the big selling points of Mozilla/Firefox was that it could run on almost any OS! Mac, Windows (95 and NT 3.51 and up), Linux, BeOS, OS/2, Solaris, and more!

      I guess Opera will be the last browser still supporting everything then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordo_1 (256312)

      Yeah, I think you're in sync with the majority of Slashdotters.

      I also think that you and those like you represent a loud minority of the user base who believe that somehow Mozilla owes it to you to maintain support for $archaic_OS_of_choice, regardless of market realities.

      If you'd ever been involved in Enterprise software development, you'd realize that to stay competitive, Firefox must move forward. They must do so with this thing called "limited resources". That means that they can't support everything ev

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Randle_Revar (229304)

      >Windows (95 and NT 3.51 and up)

      FF 3 does not run on those, and also requires Mac OS 10.4. And I believe it doesn't run with gtk more than a few years old (Linux and Solaris). I am not sure about its current status on BeOS/Haiku and OS/2

  • OSS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:24PM (#27578665)
    Isn't this the merit of OSS, in that someone who needs Firefox to run on older Windows clients can maintain a branch that implements 1.9.1? I'd need to know "why" Gecko 1.9.2 doesn't run on older versions of Windows to make a value judgement as to weather or not this is a bad idea.

    Particularly when it comes to security, too much backward compatibility can be a really bad idea, and it is partially MS-fault that everyone expects all general-purpose consumer Windows software to run on older depreciated platforms adding code complexity, inefficiency and a greater risk for security issues.

    Apple users have dealt with (for a long time) that certain updated software might require a newer OS release than they have and the vendor left it up to them to make the call if upgrading the OS+software or sticking with what they have is the right call.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by linebackn (131821)
      Isn't this the merit of OSS, in that someone who needs Firefox to run on older Windows clients can maintain a branch that implements 1.9.1? I'd need to know "why" Gecko 1.9.2 doesn't run on older versions of Windows to make a value judgment as to weather or not this is a bad idea.

      Back when Mozilla dropped MacOS 9 after Mozilla 1.2.1, some other folks rolled their own 1.3.x versions. And there is even a version of Firefox 3 for OS/2! I was even kind of hoping someone would have hacked together a version o
  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:28PM (#27578727) Homepage

    You know those of us that will never get a SP3 for XP64 per MS "making it so". I know there are so few of us these days, but that's kind of beside the point isn't it?

    • by Jon.Laslow (809215) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:39PM (#27578903) Homepage Journal
      XP x64 is based on the Server 2003 code base, not the XP x86 code base. Despite it's age, SP2 is the most recent service pack for the Server 2003 line. As long as it supports Server 2003 SP2, it will support XP x64.
      • by Mashiki (184564)

        It's easy enough to say, unfortunately having seen dev. trees come and go. When someone starts saying 'go by the wayside', 'implying code base on so and so' or anything along those lines, we'll also see the same in terms of any upstream OS's based off of it.

        I know where you're coming from. I simply don't trust devs not to fudge things up along the way and 'forget'.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:28PM (#27578729)

    So Moz is only going to support the current shipping service pack for XP and Vista. Why? Is Firefox doing anything (better question SHOULD it be) low level enough for the current version to matter?

    The situation with FF on Linux it is bad enough, in that they don't do security fixes for older versions, and new versions generally won't run on old Linux distributions but we understand that Moz Corp doesn't really give a crap about Linux, they make their coin on Windows. But now they are slashing Windows support. Only supporting XP SP3 isn't terrible, but if it is a prelude to dropping XP when 7 ships it will be a terrible thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FooBarWidget (556006)

      "So Moz is only going to support the current shipping service pack for XP and Vista. Why? Is Firefox doing anything (better question SHOULD it be) low level enough for the current version to matter?"

      Yes, bug fixes in the operating system. If you write code then you'd have to test your code on all supported versions of Windows to make sure that there's no weird Windows bug which breaks your code. The more OS versions you support, the more testing you have to do. All the effort spent on testing $ANCIENT_VERSI

  • by Andrew_T366 (759304) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:29PM (#27578739)

    Let's get this straight: "Raise the minimum requirements to require Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher," with no benefit, and no rationale other than for breaking compatibility for its own sake? If that's the case, I venture to say that Mozilla has seriously lost its way.

    So, Microsoft ditched support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP pre-SP2? So what; the APIs are just the same now as they always have been. If anything, Mozilla should focus more attention to catering to users of OS versions that Microsoft left behind, where they have less competition...and chances are, the users of Windows 2000 are still using the OS that they are because they're frustrated with Microsoft's "support" policies and the further regressions (performance and usability issues, product activation) posed by newer versions of its products.

    I'm seriously still bitter about them breaking compatibility with Windows 95 and NT4 a few versions back: One consequence was that the current version of Firefox was no longer capable of running off a version of Windows not unremovably inundated with Internet Explorer and its ilk. Short of a miracle of penetration from the Linux camp, how are we going to wean people off of a steady consumption of upgraded Microsoft products when we get attitudes and potential decisions like this?

    • by xant (99438) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:45PM (#27579815) Homepage

      No benefit? Do you have any idea how much effort is wasted testing these platforms? How many opportunity costs there are to supporting old stuff?

      You can't say you "support" a platform these days unless your tests pass on it. That means you need it installed somewhere running test software, and someone familiar with the platform needs to be around to help you when things break, which they do. Supporting it also means crippling any software that wants to use APIs that later versions of the platform supports. You either need two versions of the code (one with the feature you want, one without, a serious nightmare) or you have to tell the users of Windows XP from *years* ago "so sorry, we can't use that important performance optimization. Some idiot somewhere is still running Win2k".

      Platform support is a huge cost. Dropping it is an easy savings. Any organization that acts without regard to cost has never even seen the way, never mind "lost" it.

      You'll still be able to download older versions of Firefox; they might even continue to provide security updates for them.

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:33PM (#27578809)

    SP3 has been a bit crash prone for me on several computers. It's flat out unusable on my laptop. I'd really like to see Mozilla reconsider this one.

  • in mid 2010. So Windows XP will be 2 versions of Windows behind the current one. Windows 2000 a ten year old that is 3 versions behind. Is Mozilla still supporting Firefox for Debian Etch?

    And why would people using XP, that don't even update their os with SP3 be interested in the most current Firefox. They can then still use 3.1.

  • I have a WinXP SP2 system at home, which for various reasons not of interest here, I am unable to upgrade to SP3. Chrome works just fine though, so maybe I'll just make that my full time browser on that machine.

    Also running WinXP SP2 at work, as the admins haven't seen fit to make SP3 part of the supported environment. Looks like my Firefox install would have to plateau here as well.

    This begs the question--are they TRYING to get me to quit using FF? XP SP2 isn't THAT old of an OS. I can't really underst

  • I thought the windows service packs were more or less bug fixes and security updates - not new APIs or suchlike that make any difference to applications.

    So... what does FireFox need from Win XP SP3 that isn't in SP2?

  • Wine for Windows! [winehq.org]

    (Well, there might be by then ...)

  • by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:53PM (#27579119) Homepage Journal

    Remember, they're talking about a release of an app in the year 2010, and whether they'll support it on Windows 2000. Windows XP and Windows Vista have both been out for years already, and Windows 7 should be current by the time this move gets made.

    So that's a 10-year-old operating system, four major releases behind, for which Microsoft won't even be providing security updates after July 2010 (unless they've changed their minds).

    XP is another story, mainly due to the fact that Vista not only took forever, but has failed to catch on with the market. Fortunately they're only talking about dropping support for systems running on older XP service packs, not for a fully-updated system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ADRA (37398)

      2000 and XP were released a year apart with next to 100% API compatibility with one another. I fail to see how an app would ever choose to disable the ability to run on 2k.

      If you want this in today's standards, imagine a company 5 years from now deciding to develop an application for Windows 7 and not allow it to be run on Windows Vista. Simply idiotic since API wise, they're basically the same.

      Finally, if 2000 was anything like Win9x generation or maybe NT4 which lacks many common hardware profiles, there'

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BZ (40346)

        > 2000 and XP were released a year apart with next to 100% API compatibility with one
        > another.

        Compat in the sense that 2k APIs work in XP, yes. The other direction, no. For example, to take advantage of the theming stuff in XP requires writing code that will work on XP but not on Win2k, because XP added some APIs that don't exist on Win2k.

  • by johnrpenner (40054) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:11PM (#27579397) Homepage

    the ones who would suffer most from such a move are those least able to afford new hardware -- kid you not -- i was at a school in march 2009 -- with old donated machines that were still running windows 98 (yes 98!!) and the 'new' machine was running windows 2000. i was trying to login to get my .mac webmail - which requires at least safari 3, mozilla 2, or ie7 - fat chance to get my webmail if i'm running on win2k - ugh. but i was able to DL & install (using win98) a copy of mozilla2 for win98 and get access to my webmail -- mozilla was the only link that made it possible to keep that old machine useful for a modern webmail app. cutting support kills old machines and puts them into dumpsters and landfills.

    2cents from toronto
    j

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:12PM (#27579405)
    Many of the decisions being done at Mozilla headquarters seem to be done pursuant to an agenda which is at significant cross-purposes to the desires of the actual user. I'm a Firefox pusher, and install it on every machine I touch; but my enthusiasm has been greatly cooling off over the last year or so.
  • by FrostDust (1009075) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:13PM (#27580219)

    Opera is willing to support you guys left out in the cold with a modern browser, going all the way back to Windows 95 [opera.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Opera is willing to support you guys left out in the cold with a modern browser, going all the way back to Windows 95.

      Make it stop bitching about msimg32.dll when it's running on a fully up to date version of Windows 95 and/or Windows 98 then.

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