The 64-bit version of Firefox on Windows was to come to an end, according to Mozilla's Benjamin Smedberg last month. Despite the burgeoning memory requirements of modern browsers — thanks to the increasing demands of a mixed media web — the organisation was determined to focus its efforts on the 32-bit version. The news didn't not go down well and as a result, Mozilla has decided to keep the 64-bit door ajar.
Smedberg's original Google Groups post cited a number of reasons for going dark on the 64-bit Firefox. The build was apparently a "constant source of misunderstanding and frustration", caused by a lack of 64-bit plug-ins (with hangs common with plug-ins that do support it), among other issues.
As this post on TheNextWeb outlines, the outcry evoked by the decision has convinced Mozilla to alter its plans for the 64-bit version. Yesterday, Smedberg again posted on Google Groups, describing company's new plan:
* Migrate all existing users of win64 nightly channel builds to the win32 nightly channel builds via automatic update. * Continue to build win64 Nightly builds and updates on the nightly channel. Users who need the 64-bit builds will have to download it after the migration point (date TBD). ** Change the default first-run and update page for win64 builds to explain to users that they are not supported. ** Disable the crash reporter for win64 builds ** Enable click-to-play plugins by default in the win64 builds. * Discontinue the win64 tests and on-checkin builds to reduce release engineering load. By default, do not generate win64 builds on try. * win64 builds will be considered a "tier 3" build configuration.
So the process is a little more involved if you want to stay up-to-date with Firefox's 64-bit builds on Windows, but at least it's not dead in the water. Sure, there's no immediate need for a stable 64-bit Firefox on Windows, but one does have to question what Mozilla's future plans are for the browser on Microsoft's operating systems.