Fans of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation have waited... and waited... and waited more still, for Mozilla's popular Firefox browser to add 64-bit support. With pickup of 64-bit SKUs of Microsoft Windows operating system rapidly accelerating, it certainly seemed a 64-bit browser would be just around the corner.
Instead Mozilla has made the curious decision to pull the plug on the long-delayed project, while offering only small clues as to why the decision was made.
The announcement was posted by Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg on the Bugzilla development page. He ordered Mozilla employees and community developers:
Please stop building windows 64 builds and tests.
As for why the he opted to pull the plug on 64-bit for now, he comments, "Many plugins are not available in 64-bit versions. The plugins that are available don’t work correctly in Firefox because we haven’t implemented things like windowproc hooking, which means that hangs are more common."
Mozilla may soon find itself in lonely territory.
With Oracle Java and Adobe Flash now supporting 64-bit Windows plug-ins, both Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 and Opera Software ASA have made the leap to 64-bit. Meanwhile Google Chrome, one of the most popular browsers due to its clean UI and strong GPU acceleration, has added 64-bit support in Linux and is in the process of porting its changes to Windows.
In other words, soon Mozilla may be the only browser maker without a 64-bit browser.
Of course, Windows compatibility libraries ensure 32-bit applications (like Firefox) can still run on 64-bit Windows. But there is a small performance penalty associated.
For that reason one has to wonder whether Mozilla might come to regret its decision to halt development, even if it is only a temporary one.