back to article Firefox takes walk down 64-bit Windows street

Mozilla has created a pre-release 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows for hardcore coders to test-drive. The open source browser maker confirmed on Friday that it had begun pushing out automated pre-release builds of a 64-bit flavoured Firefox for developers to download and play with. “The purpose of automating these pre- …


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  1. MarkOne


    The 64bit builds benchmark significantly slower than the 32bit builds of Firefox, quite simply because web browsers can't really take advantage of the advantage that 64bit-ness brings, they DO however suffer the downsides of 64bit-ness (Swollen pointers, more memory consumption, larger binaries etc).

    Clearly anyone that really cares about performance, wouldn't be using Firefoxc anyway, they would be using Opera (which have just released 10.60, which moves even further ahead of even Chrome in the benchmark stakes), with even more to come in 10.60 beta.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but is it 64 bit ?

      I doubt it. That's the whole point of the article. By all means, promote Opera...

      Browsers are today much more than they were just 3 years ago, if Google are to be believed, Chrome will be your O/S interface of the future...

    2. DrXym

      It could improve performance but it may not

      If your OS is 64-bit and you run a 32-bit application, all the API calls have to be thunked to their 64-bit equivalents. The WOW64 subsystem in Windows is quite robust but even so I imagine that in a graphics & text intensive application like Firefox that this could have an effect. Also, if Firefox were the only 32 bit app you were using on the system, then you incur a memory overhead of loading up the thunk DLLs.

      On the other hand, the instructions and memory requirements for 64-bit apps are higher. This may mean that some internal assumptions that Firefox may make such as the amount of memory to reserve for cache, the amount of memory to reserve in certain objects like auto strings may be incorrect for the architecture. Other things like the JS to C++ marshalling assembly code might be non-optimal. These sorts of things could require a lot of tuning before comparing versions. Even for comparison purposes you might need to allow more memory to fairly compare a 64-bit apps to its 32-bit version.

      Additionally Firefox has to decide what to do with 32-bit plugins and 32-bit add-ons. Does it support them or not. If not, then that limits the reasons for using 64-bit and also drags up the issue of WOW64 again.

      So while I wouldn't say a 64-bit firefox would scream ahead of the 32-bit counterpart, it may provide a modest boost if you have enough memory to run it and once the kinks have been ironed out.

  2. Rick Leeming

    64bit IE

    Is utter garbage, they seem to have done the minimum amount of work so they can say "We're the first to market with a 64Bit browser on Windows". Never mind the fact it's horribly incompatible, horribly insecure with the Active-X controls it does actually support, and just plain horrible to use.

  3. Greg J Preece

    A Linux question

    Is the Firefox package available in x86_64 versions of Ubuntu a 64-bit one, or just a 32-bit one bundled for the 64-bit OS?

    1. Teoh Han Hui


      Ubuntu 64-bit includes 64-bit Firefox. What's new are the 64-bit Firefox builds for Windows.

  4. Mark C Casey

    I'll take IE browser history for $50 Alex

    "It’s unsurprising to see Mozilla developing its browser to work with 64-bit micro-processing technology, given that Microsoft has moved into that space with its Windows 7 operating system. But it’s also playing catch-up with its rivals in the web surfing game."


    Actually, MS released IE 6 on the 64bit version of Windows XP in both 32bit and 64bit flavours. MS aren't new to the 64bit browser game.

    1. LeBeourfCurtaine
      Paris Hilton

      True and yet... doesn't alter the fact that 64-bit IE is awful. I'd happily use it for IE-specific sites if it was a fully-rounded browser, but the fact is that it's missing support for de facto web features. Pointless and does nothing but reinforce the view that 64-bit IE is an after-thought.

      Paris, because MS just aren't trying.

    2. Tom 13

      Once again the factoid conceals the larger truth

      that although MS has been playing in the 64-bit browser realm for longer than most, it has been playing in the sense of two 5-year olds sharing their toys (and in fact, I owe an apology to the five year olds who share their toys better than MS plays in the 64-bit space, but there was no closer comparison) than in the sense of professional sports teams competing for a championship title. 64-bit IE is so bad the default IE task bar icon links to the 32-bit version on Vista instead of the 64-bit version. Or at least it did when I bought my copy. This caused no end of confusion when trying to run the company SSL VPN connection at the time.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Apple’s Safari moved to 64-bit when the Jobsian outfit released Mac OS X 10.6 last year."

    But it's not available as a 64 bit app for Windows.

    Firefox 32 bit plugins, I doubt they will work on 64 bit Firefox...

  6. jonathan keith

    Only useful to me...

    When Adobe pull their fingers out and get round to releasing a 64bit version of Flash.

  7. Greg Allen 1


    Only useful to me until the Adobe Flash reader becomes available. It's like having an ad-blocker turned on by default

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Usefu

      Just install FlashBlock add on in FireFox. That way you have the choice to run some useless advert / flashing media thingy or just browse in peace.

      ...back to the topic.

      A 64 bit FF scares me - the 32 bit one chews up enough resources without giving it the option of taking even more... still nicer and safer to use than IE though.

      1. Keith T

        Some entire web pages are in Flash

        Flash isn't just for advertisements.

  8. Fred Mbogo

    Utterly Pointless

    Unless Flash is released for it. Sick and tired here of running IE for Flash Apps and Minefield/Firefox 64 for the rest.

  9. The Unexpected Bill

    We interrupt this broadcast to bring you...

    ...the news that an unofficial 64-bit build of Firefox has been around for a while now:

    As they're unofficial builds, they cannot bear the Mozilla Firefox trademark but that does not stop them from working just fine. I've been using them on the x86-64 build of XP Pro without incident*. Although the main page would seem to suggest that only version 3.0.7 is available, drilling down reveals that 3.6 should be downloadable as well.

    * other than Flush not working because there is no Win64 version...not that I'm sure this is a great loss...

    1. Keith T

      Read again, "pre-release"

      Pre-release does not mean beta or alpha.

  10. illiad

    Opera?? trimmed out more??

    Opera used to be good, but they have ruined and removed all that was good..

    try the 'smartsearch' by typing 'google' on the URL bar... It searches GOOGLE for the word google!!!

    Even FF guesses you just want to start google... ROFL

  11. Peter X

    Re 64bit linux

    I wondered the same! I've installed 64bit Ubuntu 10.04 and I'd assumed the included Firefox was also 64bit. Certainly I'm running the 64bit Flash plugin (it's still in testing, although it is very stable) so surely it *must* be 64bit Firefox?!!

  12. illiad

    Back to FF..

    Operafans, FF may need extensions to make it more useable, but..

    (and I hope Opera ASA is watching, to see why this

    former BIG operafan is ******** off at them)

    speeddial - far more active - groups, naming, etc...

    session manager - far more versatile than opera's very basic one....

    more for tooltips, progressbar, lots of things that opera has forgotten to develop more... what use is speed, when functions & useability lacks so much???

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