Mozilla's engineers have decided to continue the development of Firefox 64-bit for Windows, at least by delivering "nightl"y builds.
Last month, Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg announced that the development of a 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows would be discontinued, as Mozilla had to relocate its resources to other projects. However, after "significant negative feedback" received by the Mozilla community, Smedberg has decided on a modification to the original plan: Firefox 64-bit for Windows may still never be released, but nightly builds will live another day.
The main reason for the change of plans appears to be that certain users regularly run into the 4GB memory limits of 32-bit builds due to hundreds or even thousands of tabs. Smedberg says Mozilla "does not have the resources to actively support this use case" but that making these builds "is not a significant burden" on the Release Engineering group.
As such, he has decided on the following modifications to his original 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.
Mozilla's engineers will continue to test the win32 builds and make sure that they work well on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. Specifically, all of the testing on Windows 8 is planned to be done on the 64-bit version of Windows 8.
"I do hope that the projects and developers who are interested in win64 will work together to maintain this build configuration," Smedberg wrote in a post.