back to article Mozilla considers dumping Firefox support for Win2k, early XP

Mozilla execs have taken to their developer forum to mull whether to ditch support for versions of ageing Microsoft operating systems when it releases Firefox 3.5’s successor in 2010. Over the course of the past day, the browser maker’s developer team and company execs have been discussing which Windows operating systems …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business Plan?

    My home PC is abysmal running Vista although if Windows 7 is as quick as XP (and has a similar memory/CPU) foot print then I will migrate - otherwise I'll be staying with IE and Chrome.

    I like Firefox (I use it with Noscript and Adblock) to get around a lot of the ad heavy websites but have been impressed by Chrome's speed.

    If they drop XP in 2010 then they will lose a lot of users (and perhaps give that market to Google Chrome?)

  2. Nicholas Wright
    Thumb Down


    Mozilla's falling for the Microsoft PR?

    Most people will be skipping Vista, and only *might* touch Windows 7.

    Losing XP support will certainly be a bad move.

  3. Cameron Colley

    Who are these morons?

    Who _need_ more and more features? Just give us a secure browser, for fuck's sake!

    Apart from advert and script blocking -- themselves and answer to badly-written browsers unable to parse bloated sites riddled with the amazingly stupid creation that is externally-hosted scripting -- browsers don't need any more features than Mosaic.

    Even worse are the dickheads who want to support things that can be done in Windows7 but not XP -- last time I heard OSX, Linux and BSD weren't based on Microsoft code. Has someone on the dev team decided they would like a job with Microsoft, perhaps?

  4. Joe K
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah, right

    Just *completely* decide to rule yourself out of the whole netbook market, which is looking to become the biggest market within the next couple of years.

    Thats just genius that is.

  5. Gordon Crawford


    does this mean I have to upgrade my win 98se?

    nope, just like my precocious 98se , I will stop upgrading browsers across my systemi[at least the window ones ] [3- xp , 7= 98se , 3- PC linux] ]

    moral ... use what works for you !!!

    ethic ...or your boss trains and pays you to use .!!

    browser - firefox

  6. Keith Doyle
    Thumb Down

    That's why I dumped Firerfox...

    If it don't work on W98SE, forget it. There's no excuse for dumping compatibility -- while I use XP/SP3, most of the people I know are still on W98SE and have been running FF 1.5. Their hardware WON'T support XP, otherwise works fine, and I'm recommending they use other browsers who's updates still run on W98.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Older OSs Dead?

    At one point they did [at least with 2.x] but I'll assume with 3.0, Win 9x/ME/NT support died.

    Interesting to force Win XP users to install SP3..... You figured MS would do the forcing....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would help...

    ... if they could be more open about exactly what features of Vista or Vista SP3 (AKA Windows 7) they want to use that supporting Win2K and XP is preventing them from using. If it's an amazing new feature that everyone will want then go for it. If it's just to save having to ensure the browser is tested and working on 2K and XP then they should probably just keep doing the extra legwork given the size of the install base.

    While the Windows version of Firefox is presumably the most prevalent, I do also hope that they're not planning to use features of Vista that will exclude the Mac, Linux, etc versions of the browser.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    If Micro$oft can't make me upgrade...

    ... it seems that others will.

    Zone Alarm have already ended support for Win 2k, now it seems that Mozilla is following suit, so I'll be left with a perfectly functional OS that does exactly what I need, except that I'll no longer be able to keep myself secure because it's out of date.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    shooting yourself in the foot

    If Mozilla wants to lose hard-won ground to MS, then by all means drop support for older OSes.


    --Is there a planned Linux version 3.5?

    --When they speak of discontinuing support for less than XP SP3, why wouldn't SP2 still be supported? Isn't SP3 just SP2 with all the updates rolled into one and a little better management console and other minor tidbits?

    --What about 64-bit support?

  11. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Win98SE - Me too !

    Most of the people I know are still on 98SE ( XP for NetBooks ). If 98 does the job then why bother to upgrade, and that's before we get onto the issue that most 'upgrades' seem to be pure eye candy and coming in with footprints bigger than disks were a few years ago ( and usable mainstream Linux distros are no better ).

    I much prefer to have 98 zinging along on hardware which XP won't install on and Vista simply laughs at than pay Bill & 'Gravy Train' Chums a small fortune to have an over-bloated hog which runs just as slowly.

    Of course, if I haven't got a Quad Core, 200GHz, 1TB Ram, 500TB hard disk sucking kW out of the ring main I have to accept I'm a social leper, possibly 'entirely retarded', and have to suffer "haven't got with the programme" ridicule. At least I can proudly say I'm not a sheep.

    Seems Mozilla have got themselves caught by the, "Ooh, look; shiny things!" bandwagon :-(

  12. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Consequences of an out-dated OS

    I stand by the idea that when security updates for a product -- be it an OS, browser, or otherwise -- then it is time to move on.

    Eight out of 10 people with whom I come into contact stay with Windows 98SE (or ME, ugh!) because they were and still are afraid to move to Windows XP for whatever reason. Even when I clearly demonstrate that Windows XP is not much different from 98 than 98 was from 95. Now, many of them would probably cough at moving to Vista, but I think the same ones would benefit from Vista's approach.

    One of ten cites compatibility with some piece of software, which can generally be overcome by compatibility settings or, and yes this increases the difficulty level some, an emulator. (Which would seem to contradict my statement on Linux below but, overall, I believe does not.)

    The other one person refuses because he or she refuses to spend money on new hardware. Give me a break. In the US, people could have upgraded last year using the stimulus tax rebate check, FFS.

    "Teach them Linux instead!" Well, it is not a bad idea, actually, but if they are going to learn something new, I do not see the reason not to just stick with what already works with the software they have without hacks and tweaks and apt-gets and what-not. If they want to learn Linux, then that is up to them and the friend who will teach and support them.

    If you support someone who refuses to move from 98SE, ME, or 2000 for whatever reason, then so long as that person is okay knowing that in the event of a virus or malware infection there is the extreme likelihood that a format-and-reinstall will be the only way to clean it out, and the likelihood that a lot modern software and hardware will not work for them and will therefore require a little more homework, then fine. Have at it and be happy. We Amigaoids got used to that a long time ago.

    For that matter, I do not mind helping them when I have the time. But none the less, there are consequences for running operating systems and software which is not longer supported by its vendor.

    Now, in the case of Firefox dumping anything older than WIndows XP SP3, IMHO it would be best to support back to whatever SP level is still receiving security updates (Windows XP SP2, IIRC.) That way we can mostly ensure a stable and secure platform on which to run the software.

    But for those holding out on SP3, most computer hardware introduced since the release of Windows XP has the ability to keep up with the hardware requirements of the OS. At minimum, Windows XP since SP2 should run on at least 512MB RAM. I have it running comfortably with the performance options maxed out (no themes, no animations, etc.) on systems as old as Pentium III 667s. If you have a computer that old, the original hard drive has most likely died already, is close to it, or is probably full, and a newer IDE hard drive, or SATA drive with a PCI card, will greatly increase performance with little expense. I know that MANY techs like myself have sticks of PC-133 laying around to help with your memory woes, and probably a no-longer-used 20GB or 40GB drive which way out performs your current drive.

    All considered, Firefox surely is not pushing themselves out of the UMPC or ULCPC or whatever the acronym is for these itty-bitty teeny-weeny computers and laptops, since there are installations of XP SP3 for them as well.

    Someone always starts crying foul when something they like and/or use is to be discontinued. I know I have, especially after investing several clams into a product to have it disco'd within a year. But if you have been using the same computer for five, seven, or ten years, you have received your return and you are pretty much in the same position you were back when you originally bought it.

    Paris, still in the original position as when she was bought.

  13. Chris C

    Stupid, stupid, stupid

    Killing support for Win2000 is going to kill off usage on a ton of corporate servers. And killing off WinXP < SP3 is going to kill off a ton of corporate and residential users. Exactly what features do they need in XPSP3 that's not available in SP2 and earlier, and in Win2000? I understand that as a developer, you want to support as few different systems/architectures as possible to eliminate testing, etc, but this is taking it too far.

    Then again, this is Mozilla, and Firefox is not the light-and-friendly browser it once was. Replacing a text file (bookmarks) with an SQLite database was a stupid idea because it massively increased bloat (both storage and resource consumption). I remember Netscape 2.0 worked perfectly on a Win 3.1 machine with 2MB of memory. I realize Firefox does a lot more, but why does an empty Firefox window in a new profile (with no add-ons) require 45MB memory? When I'm looking up a lot of things at once and have multiple windows open, I've seen Firefox eating up to 400MB memory. There's no reason for it; it's pure bloat. Then again, considering the insane decision of multiple people/companies to use XML for virtually everything is proof that people don't care about bloat (since XML is, by definition, unnecessary bloat which guarantees files will take up far more space than binary files and will take longer to open/save/manipulate due to the extra processing required.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    w2ksp4 user in search of better browser

    Mozilla wankers became overly arrogant and prissy. Became a Boutique...offered frilly festoons of fairy 'phemerals...when Man wanted only Meat and Meade and gnarly Wench. KO imminent. Spake thus Zarathustra.

  15. Bucky

    New Lamps for Old

    I don't remember the version numbers anymore, but I do remember back in the day that newer Mozillas wouldn't install on Mac OS 7, and Mac OS 8 was a bad choice for the old Mac cx's.

    I think the overarching issue had something to do with OS 7 either not being completely 32-bit clean (or possibly the ROMs in the machine weren't and therefore wouldn't run OS8), or else that an application couldn't allocate memory from the global heap in an ad-hoc fashion in the older OS, or some such nonsense.

    Someone may need to correct me on the exact version numbers. But that's not really the point.

    My point is, that without really knowing WHAT features Vista is supplying that XP doesn't, it's difficult to judge whether dropping XP support is a logical, forward-thinking move, or a lateral move just because something is newer and shinier. Dropping a memory restriction that is only a problem on old machines on one platform could be a good thing for the product in general, for example.

    Remember, now, Mozilla is just opening the doors for DISCUSSION on the issue. I think evaluating and reevaluating things from time to time is worthwhile.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Keith Doyle

    "while I use XP/SP3, most of the people I know are still on W98SE and have been running FF 1.5"

    Wow! You've got a wormhole to the last century!

  17. Anonymous Coward


    They'll make me give up Win2k when the pry it from my cold dead hands.

    I'd sooner give up Firefox than be railroaded into changing my OS on the whim of some bored Mozilla executive.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Keith Doyle

    I have upgraded Windows 9x machines to Debian Linux or Ubuntu Linux and then the latest Firefox/Iceweasel works fine.

    The only hardware upgrade I have to do (sometimes) is add more RAM, and that's cheap as chips currently.

    And Linux is way more secure than Windows 9x, plus loads of modern applications can be used then too,

  19. Jeff Deacon

    Firefox lost me a while ago too

    I have a mixture of Win98SE and Win2K boxes. (For reasons of the "phone home" behaviour of WinXP and later, I will not touch them with the proverbial barge pole). So I have stuck with Firefox firstly for reasons of compatibility across all the boxes, and secondly because of the rumour, or fact - I don't care, that Mozilla were planning to sell users' browsing habits with version 3. I believe that version 2 does not have that capability, and will stick with it.

    Alas, I've never got on with Opera. Actually now considering put DOS back onto a box and using Arachne instead!

  20. Solomon Grundy

    Beginning of the End

    Mozilla is sort of a poster child of open saucers everywhere - dropping compatibility with the most widely used operating systems in existence will seriously endanger the entire open saucer goal of making significant headway into the business world (i.e. where the money is).

    Hopefully it's just an intellectual discussion (like considering ways to kill yourself but not really considering committing suicide)

    All well managed companies should have these types of intellectual discussions so we can hope that's all it is - good management practices...

  21. Nigel Wright

    Just fix the current version of FF3 please!

    Just fix the current version properly please.

    As others have said - more features are not required. I was very happy with FF2, but upgraded to FF3 cos of support being dropped. FF3 has caused me nothing but LOADS of trouble.

    XP SP3 works fine for me, I have no intention of upgrading beyond that because my hardware is fine and reliable. MS updates have a habit of requiring increased hardware and I am sick of the endless software=hardware upgrade cycle that results from it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to make friends and influence people

    First they drop support for FF2 as soon as they can. Then they drop support for old OSs.

    Funny isn't it that Mozilla seem to do many of the things that their fanbase accuse Microsoft of doing, even though MS don't actually do them.

    What lovely people they are.

  23. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    @Joe K

    @Joe K

    "Just *completely* decide to rule yourself out of the whole netbook market, which is looking to become the biggest market within the next couple of years."

    How so?

    1) This decision is not even for the NEXT version of Firefox, but a vague future version. So it's not something that'll happen at least for months.

    2) The good netbooks are and will ship with Linux, which is not losing support; given the choice between Ubuntu and Windows, 30% are choosing Ubuntu. (The articles claiming like 94% Windows sales were in brick-and-mortar stores ONLY, where most have no Linux choice at all.)

    3) Windows XP will be unsupported starting THIS week, and unavailable via OEMs in a few months. The Windows Vista with XP downgrade will have SP3, which according to TFM, even this future Firefox will still support. Or Windows 7, which it presumably will also support..


    I think this decision IS rather stupid, if (as I suspect) there's no technical reason to not support <SP3. Now, my question -- does this mean Firefox won't *run* on <SP3, or does it mean it'll run fine, but if people *do* claim to have problems on a <SP3 system they'll just be told "piss off, that configuration is unsupported". Hopefully they won't pull an Apple, and put checks in the installer or firefox itself just so it fails on older systems*.

    *What do I mean? I mean the OSX installers, that will artificially check for minimum specs, instead of just saying "We don't recommend or support this", they'll refuse to install. Then the user installs some hack to make the installer work and the OS runs fine.

  24. Trix

    Most of the people *you* know are on 98SE?

    Christ, who's that then, gran and pop?

    AC the last, Mozilla are saying they're *not* dropping support for XP in the near future. Did you not actually read the article?

    I saw that the people who make CDEx are intending to waste their time in developing a new version compatible with Win 95/98 - I'm sorry, there are still the old versions of the product that work perfectly well on those platforms. If you want *new* features, there becomes a point when you need the appropriate platform to run them on.

    If you're happy with Win98SE, you should be happy to run FF1.5 on it (or FF 2 - I haven't used Win98 since about 2000, so I don't know if it runs). If you don't want new complicated features in your OS, like proper security, then why do you need them in your browser?

    I do think an app vendor should support the last OS platform at least, so maybe if Win 7 is released, they might be justified in releasing "FF4" with no XP support. But I would expect the 3.x line to support XP for at least the next couple of years.

  25. frymaster

    "Features thay can take advantage of in vista"

    I'd be happy if they took advantage of features in XP, to be honest. I run my own website/general purpose server, and have a self-signed root certificate which signs any ssl certs I need, so I only have one thing to install to avoid certificate errors... NOT.

    Because firefox, in its infinite wisdom, totally ignores window's built-in cert store, meaning I have to install the cert into FF seperately. Something that chrome managed from day 1, I might add.

    And don't get me started on group policy and roaming profiles...

    Dropping support for XP SP1 and win2k, yes (the only people using them will be corporate types who are forced to use IE6 anyway) but SP3 is perhaps a little recent to be enforcing it. And XP is used in 60% of computers in the valve hardware survey, which is a pretty cutting-edge market segment, so I don't see making it vista-only worthwhile.

  26. Lars Silver badge

    I don't get it

    There is XP (now soo good as Vista is not) and there is Firefox for XP. Leave it at that and fix possible security problems in FF for XP.

  27. zonky
    Thumb Up

    What a lot of moaning.

    It's open source. If you want it maintained, you have the code base. Go forth and do it.

    To be clear, they're not actively killing it on these platforms, but no longer testing it on these platforms.

  28. John F***ing Stepp


    Debian has its own browser.

    (I am sticking with sp1 until I can go Linux completely.)

    Just a hint there; sucking up to Mickysoft is a damn good way to fail.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I side with them...

    how many people pay for Firefox?

    Thought so.

    So you expect them to support ancient technolgy forever for free?

    Ok how about...

    We will continue to support Win9x, W2K and early xp (although I see no reason to stop XPsp2 support), however it will cost £5 a download.

    There you go, you get your download....Oh I see you want everything for free.....silly me.

    If you have an old, unsupported, feature lacking, insecure OS, why does it matter if you browser is an older version?

    And yes I run XP. I'm unikely to upgrade, but at the same time, I can understand from a time, development and finacial pov why they want to drop it.

  30. Steve
    Thumb Up

    fair enougth

    If you are running anything lower than XP/SP3 then you clearly don't want to run the latest software updates and that goes for your browser too.

  31. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Support for ZoneAlarm on Win2000 (@AC: 17:03)

    Just keep using an older version of ZA which does work on W2K. It's not like a software firewall has to keep up to date with signature files or anything. So long as it allows you to specify how and when your apps can access the internet, then it's doing its job.

  32. ffrankmccaffery

    earlier posters

    to the knobs in the earlier posts suggesting users with pre-xpsp3 systems shouldnt be supported as they dont bother to upgrade. Firefox depends on such people for its still minimal global install base.

    And another thing who the fuck allows code monkeys a say on such important matters such as this?

    As the browser itself? In its early days it provided users a seamless transition to a securer alternate to the then shockingly insecure IE with an interface that was similar and hence the users were familiar with. Yet now with newer versions its developers seem to think they know better with their increasing alien interfaces that users have no comprehension of.

  33. edwardecl

    Dropping suport = bad idea

    I have no problem with them dropping support for operating systems that are not used widly anymore such as windows 9x series as microsoft does not support it anymore.

    Windows 2k/XP it would be a bit stupid not to support anymore as they are almost the same OS. Although I would say it's fine if these new features requied addition software on these old systems or maybe even a few comprimises such as missing features.

    I really don't see what these features could be as the browser is multi platform. People who say use Chrome, I seems to remember Chrome not working on windows2k without a few hacks so clearly that is not the answer.

  34. Peter Kay

    @ 'who the fuck allows code monkeys'

    Perhaps you should revisit the price of this software : free

    It's true that Mozilla has a large amount of funding from Google (although possibly less if Chrome succeeds), but still the principle stands to some extent. This, to a degree depends on goodwill. Goodwill depends on interest, and there's not much interest in supporting dead platforms.

    Of course, setting the bar as high as XP SP3 is perhaps a little excessive given the large proportion of corporate pre SP3 installs of XP, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. I would suggest this line is currently at the very least 2000 or better, and possibly XP+.

    Sometimes it's because the platform is simply no longer used by anyone (386 based systems, now not even supported by free Unixes), sometimes it's because testing is too much trouble based on the small community who still uses it (still want it? do it yourself) and sometimes it's because taking advantage of new features means the most sensible option is to drop support for other platforms.

    Taking the example of BIND, for instance. A year or so ago ISC dropped NT support, but if you were sufficiently insane, it was possible to compile it. The next version couldn't be used on NT at all because it uses Windows 2000 onwards functions. This isn't due to malice - it's simply because it runs faster.

    95/98 and NT<=4 are obsolete, insecure and should be taken out and shot. Just because software 'works' does not mean that the software is not also unnecessarily held back from what it could achieve on a decent operating system with decent hardware.

    Software evolves, new threats develop and unfortunately replacing your computer hardware is a necessary part of owning one. Even 9-10 year old machines are capable of running a supported Windows OS and if you don't want to buy a Windows upgrade, there's plenty of free, up to date, secure operating systems that will still run. Don't want that inconvenience? Well, keeping up to date a bit under every decade with Windows and your OS is the price..

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Dropping support for the antiquated DOS based Win9x/ME line is one thing, but there really is NO reason whatsoever to drop support for Windows 2000 as it's virtually identical to XP (and XP is still the largest userbase by far).

    Mozilla are quite happy to mouth off about their user numbers (which are predominantly made up of WinXP users) so why turn their back on those users now and reduce their market share?

    I really cannot imagine what possible feature there could be in Vista / Win7 that is not in XP/2000 that would be REQUIRED by a web browser (unless it's some crappy aero effect or something - which has nothing to do with web browsing anyway).

    There seems to be one of two excuses as to why they would drop support:

    1. because the user base is small. If that;s the case then presumably they will also be dropping support for Linux because that userbase is way smaller than XP (and slightly less that Windows 2000).

    2. because newer windows has better security. Well, Firefox was touted as a secure alternative to IE. So it's a bit rich to say that those users can stick with older versions of Firefox (even if zero day exploits are subsequently found). Guess they don't care so much about security after all.

    By all means, stick your pointless whizz bang features in newer versions, but security updates (at the very least) should continue for Windows 2000/XP.

  36. Michael Martin

    Much ado for nothing

    People, people, people! Come on, if you aren't posting on the USENET group that the discussion is taking place in, your arguments are all for naught. Go forth and post where you will be heard!

    I myself am using Win2K at work, and XP at home. I highly doubt that anyone is seriously considering dropping support for XP, especially due to the momentum 'lite computing' currently has. I'd be sad to see 2K support drop, though, as a hefty percentage of the computers here have no XP license and Firefox is by far my browser of choice (despite, as mentioned further up, its gradual transformation into a resource hog).

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunate It Is

    ... that MS is running the show even when it's the competition making decisions. Maybe people who want a different browser than IE7 want a different OS than MS' latest and /greatest/ too.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    640kb ought to be enough for anybody

    Replace "640kb" with Windows 2000 or Windows 98.

    You don't need no stinkin' improvements (see "Features New to Windows XP" on Wikipedia, see Service Pack changes in XP article), the ability to run new software, or the ability to install new hardware. Who cares about security? Who needs a stable kernel anyways, 9x users? Who needs a modern version of IIS that doesn't suck, 2000 users?

    Do modern builds of SVN work for you guys? How about TortoiseSVN? Visual Studio? Apache? PHP? Perl? Python? .NET? Flash? Silverlight? Java?

    The "performance" reason doesn't seem very compelling, and the "no DRM" people don't seem to have a Windows upgrade path. You will be left behind. Your internet experience will continue to degenerate (few people test for Firefox 1.5, 2.0 is dropping off quickly).

  39. Tref

    not for shiny toys instead of compatibility I hope!

    If old support *needs* to be ditched then XPSP2 would be a reasonable place to set up.

    I'm not convinced it does though. Apart from the mentioned interface beauty tips, what would Vista bring to the party? Maybe 9x could be let go if it's causing security issues. If not, I don't see why it should be ditched either though.

    Chrome's irrelevant to me as Google seem to have just remembered my OS of choice exists.

    I'm on FF 3x and it looks like I'm staying there until Camino stops falling over after a few bits of Flash... :( That said, Camino is truly ace when actually running!

  40. Anonymous Coward

    All the sourcecode is available

    The good thing about firefox is that it's open source, sooo if Mozilla decides to drop support for Win2K you can edit those bits out and recompile it yourself.

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