Mozilla ponders dropping Firefox support for Win2K, early XP

Some developers want to ditch older Microsoft OSes by mid-2010

Mozilla Corp. is considering dropping support for Windows 2000 and the earliest versions of XP when it ships the follow-up to Firefox 3.5 in 2010, online discussions show.

In a series of messages on the mozilla.dev.planning forum, developers and Mozilla executives, including the company's chief engineer and its director of Firefox, hashed out which Microsoft Corp. operating systems it should support with the 2010 edition of its browser.

"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 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 - Mozilla has dubbed the latter "Firefox.next" and code named it "Namoroka" - are slated to wrap up in "early-to-mid 2010," according to the company's current plans.

Conner based his proposal on the fact that Microsoft Corp. will end all support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) on July 13, 2010, and has already ditched support for Windows XP and XP SP1. After that July 2010 date, Microsoft will only support Windows XP SP3, the free upgrade it shipped in May 2008 after some initial compatibility snafus.

"As we intend to ship the next version of Firefox in early 2010, Firefox 3.5 will continue to be supported under our current support policy (six months after the next version) until after those OS versions are no longer supported," reasoned Conner, "so users will continue to be supported by Mozilla as least as long as their OS is supported."

Some, however, balked at the idea.

"Right now, the majority of our Windows users are still on XP, but I'm not sure it's clear how many of those users have upgraded, or intend to upgrade, or in some cases are able to upgrade," said Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox. "And while I understand that the platform itself isn't supported by Microsoft, I do think that keeping those XP users from being able to use Firefox will end up doing more harm (to them) than good, no matter what the intent."

Others argued for even more drastic measures. "We can justify dropping [Windows 2000]/XP entirely better than setting the minimum to XP SP3 because there are many more new features in Vista that we could take advantage of," said developer Rob Arnold. "I think we should see how Windows 7 pans out. If the result is good and users migrate from XP, then we should consider dropping XP. Of course, there will always be people who cling to old systems like Win2k and XP and they will be vocal."

Conner rebutted Arnold's argument, noting - as did many of the others in the discussion - that XP is hale and hearty, and may remain so for years. " I don't think completely dropping XP is feasible for [Gecko] 1.9.2 unless it ships in 2012, given that many machines, notably netbooks, are still shipping with XP Home."

Like many of the in-the-public discussions by Mozilla -- which prides itself on the openness of its deliberations -- there was no immediate decision made by the participants, who included not only Beltzner but also Mike Shaver, Mozilla's vice president of engineering.

Currently, Firefox 3.08 supports Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Server 2003. Firefox 3.5, which will be updated to Beta 4 next week, supports the same list.

Users of older Microsoft operating systems - notably Windows 98 and Windows NT - have been unable to upgrade from Firefox 2.0 to the Version 3.x line, a point that has irked many.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Topics: Mozilla Labs, windows xp, Firefox, Windows 2000, mozilla firefox, mozilla
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
Use WhistleOut's technology to compare:
Mobile phone plans & deals
Mobile phone models
Mobile phone carriers
Broadband plans & deals
Broadband providers
Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?