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Firefox to Drop Pre-Windows 2000 Support 491

Posted by timothy
from the they-dropped-mac-os-9-long-ago dept.
cyclomedia writes "While more and more platforms are getting (or aiming for) Firefox ports, the trunk itself seems to be going the other way. In an effort to clean up the API calls used and reduce the codesize a patch was posted at Bugzilla removing support from pre-W2k versions of Windows. There's a fiery discussion going on over at the Mozillazine forums about this after a counter bug was filed. The official position appears to be that Firefox 3.0 will maintain this un-compatibility, but developers are, obviously, free to work on a separate Win 98 compatible 'port.'"
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Firefox to Drop Pre-Windows 2000 Support

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  • Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by milamber3 (173273) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:53AM (#15494088)
    MS has basically stopped supporting pre-2000 so why shouldn't firefox? Anyone using their computer to browse the web with firefox should probably make sure they have 2000 or better just to keep the nasties out of their system.
  • One way to go... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:57AM (#15494110) Homepage Journal
    Deciding on when to drop compatibility can be a tough problem. I think a good policy would be to drop support for an OS when support from that OS has been dropped by the vendor. In Windows' case I believe the majority of home users are on XP while the majority of office users are on XP or 2000. So it would seem reasonable to drop support for the older OSs.

    The last version of Firefox to support 98 and earlier should be kept up for easy download.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:59AM (#15494118) Homepage Journal
    Nasties can only get in your system if you expose bad ports or use an insecure program to run it.

    Up until now, the most secure thing for win 98 users (for whatever reason they are still using it) has been to sit behind a router and use firefox.

    Knowing that firefox won't support them will be bad news in my eyes.

    Additionally, aren't Win 2000 and Win xp less secure than running an old OS which doesn't have the available OS features which l33t virus people exploit?
  • by hausmaus (684529) <sean@outpostbbs.net> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:00AM (#15494130) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that the developers of Firefox have fallen down the same pothole-filled path that Microsoft has - forget about your past, focus only on the future. As an guy who does quite a bit of home-based computer repair, I see a lot of people who are NOT using Windows XP and are using older versions of Windows (pre-2000 - I use W2K myself). What's happening to Firefox is that it's getting splintered apart slowly. I wouldn't be suprised to have four or five distinct versions of FF in the next few years (note I'm not saying ports, but distinct versions).

    Firefox is already much slower-loading that it used to be a few years ago, loaded with a lot of things that probably aren't really necessary. Not all of us require the latest and greatest thing to do what we need to do and I feel that the developers of FF have lost touch of that, being driven by feature creep and "keeping up with the neighbors" mentality.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15494234) Homepage Journal
    ... for win 98 users (for whatever reason they are still using it)...

    'Cause they don't want to pay for a new version or bother getting a pirate copy, or deal with the headaches of upgrading, and maybe it simply works for them and feel no obligation to change?

    Additionally, aren't Win 2000 and Win xp less secure than running an old OS which doesn't have the available OS features which l33t virus people exploit?

    All versions of Windows have holes which Microsoft will never fix. But no updates at all will ever come for very old versions. Holes in 98 will forever be there while with 2000 and XP you can at least still hope for fixes. AFAIK most significant exploits and virii are applicable to all versions of Windows since they share the majority of their code base (especially the Win32 API).
  • i don't understand (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Xamedes (843781) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15494236)
    why there is no abstraction layer for previous version of windows. so for examples if something uses new features of windows xp/2000/2003 there would be a sandbox application in windows 9x which simulates the possibilities of the higher system
  • Re:shrug (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 (71849) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:18AM (#15494267)
    No one is saying throw it away. But to expect an application to support your legacy junk is unreasonable. You can still use Firefox, you just won't be able to upgrade after a certain point.

    If you want to keep running your old hardware on your almost 10 year old OS, go ahead, but don't keep everyone else back that wants to move forward by demanding FF to support you.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:29AM (#15494346) Homepage Journal
    Many people still have 98 boxes at home.
    If they're content using an old operating system, then they will probably be content using an older browser. It's not like they can't use Firefox at all; they just won't be able to use 3.0, which won't come out for at least another year.
  • Re:shrug (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nutria (679911) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:30AM (#15494350)
    I NEED MUH FIREFOXEN!

    There's no logic bomb that says that NEXT YEAR when FF 3.0 is realeased, FF 2.0.x suddenly stop running on Win98.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by daveewart (66895) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:36AM (#15494398)

    [People should] make sure they have 2000 or better just to keep the nasties out of their system.

    You realise that most network worms *only* affect Win2000 and WinXP, right? Win98SE is probably the most stable and least problematic version of Windows ever. Seriously.
  • Re:Pre-2K ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@NOSpam.spad.co.uk> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:36AM (#15494400) Homepage
    Windows Millenium can barely be considered as an Operating System.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shotgunefx (239460) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:43AM (#15494447) Journal
    I've got 9 PCs in my home.
    3 older running 98se
    2 Running XP

    The rest running various linux distros.

    Yeah, I could upgrade those 98 machines, but up until now, for the purposes they are used for, no reason to.

    One of the 98se machines I use almost constantly, the others less often, I for one would be peeved if they dropped support.

    As a matter of fact, I'm posting from one right now using FF.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SiChemist (575005) * on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:45AM (#15494465) Homepage
    I would say the main reason you don't see many machines running that vintage of Linux is that they could be upgraded to a newer version for free. I don't think there will ever be a large number of machines running an extremely obsolete version of a free operating system.
  • by werelord (562191) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:52AM (#15494515)
    How skewed can you get?? W3Schools is not a good representation of the people out on the web. The only people that will go to this site are those that are savy (like /.ers); your average everyday person (many of which still run 98) will not visit this site, and their numbers will not be reflective in the total.

    My company's statistics list 98 and below ranging from 12%-20%. On a daily basis. Again, ours is skewed to the non-technical user. But its not 2.1%.

    Your best bet is to use statistics from major portals, Yahoo, MSN, Google, etc, ones that will give a good random sampling rather than a random sampling of a specific demographic.
  • by jZnat (793348) * on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:56AM (#15494548) Homepage Journal
    Firefox 3.0 is a long way away, and there's still Firefox 2.0 along with its security releases through Firefox 3.0's early lifetime as well. By the time 3.0 is absolutely necessary, the pre-2K computers could have already upgraded to Ubuntu [ubuntu.com].
  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:00AM (#15494591)
    What's wrong with this? Does anyone care if Firefox runs on 7 year old Linux distributions? No. Do Mac users care if an application still runs on OS 9? No. There is no reason why anyone should be running anything less than Win 2k. If they are, they certainly shouldn't expect to be able to run the latest and greatest of software. If they are OK with an OS older than 2000, they should be OK running a browser version stuck in 2006. I say clean up the code and drop legacy support. Don't make Microsoft's mistake.

    -matthew
  • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost (415913) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:08AM (#15494656)
    For Linux, the increase is negligible.

    While that may be true of the kernel, it is not true of the desktop
    environments (Gnome, KDE, etc) or of any apps that make use of the
    large widget libraries (qt, gtk, etc).
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:12AM (#15494711)
    'Cause they don't want to pay for a new version or bother getting a pirate copy, or deal with the headaches of upgrading, and maybe it simply works for them and feel no obligation to change?

    I've personally never met anyone for whom Windows 98 Just Works. But I guess maybe that has something to do only being brought in when the Windows 98 shit hit the fan. Seriously though, who could still be running an original installation of Windows 98? Standard operating procedure for Win 98 pretty much dictates a fresh reinstall every so often anyway. Why not upgrade while you're at it?

    What is it with Windows and legacy support, anyway? Only in the Windows world (it seems) do you get a significant number of people who stubornly refuse to give up their applications and OS from 1995. Well, I guess there might still be some Amiga users out there... ;-) IF they're happy with an OS from before 2000, they should be happy with a browser from 2006. Can they really expect developers to continue to support them?

    -matthew
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:19AM (#15494774)
    'Cause they don't want to pay for a new version or bother getting a pirate copy, or deal with the headaches of upgrading, and maybe it simply works for them and feel no obligation to change?

    Why would these people even bother upgrading Firefox? 1.0 should be enough for those people. And if they don't care about their OS of choice's vulnerabilities, they surely won't care about their browser's either.
  • Re:shrug (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArmyOfFun (652320) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:26AM (#15494820)
    I should post anonymously to avoid horrible embarrassment. My home computer was bought in '99, (550 mhz), and while intended for useful work, it was also an awesome gaming rig at the time, it came preloaded with Win98 SE. While still my main machine, it's only regularly used for web browsing now. XP would slow the thing down, and I have no desire to purchase/pirate 2k. The only stability problems I've had were due to a stick of memory going bad (so it has even less RAM than when I bought it in '99). That said, I don't care about this announcement. I understand my setup is outdated, and I don't expect any software to support it. I have no desire to upgrade my machine, or rather, any desire to upgrade is outweighed by the cost of a new machine. I have only two reasons I would need a bleeding edge computer. The first is to play PC games, but I've moved to consoles for my gaming needs simply because it's cheaper (I can't justify $200 every 1-2 year just to play new games). The other is do work on my home machine but I'm not interested in doing any work during my off hours (the main app I need to run often slows my 1ghz work machine to a crawl). For web browsing/paying bills, my setup is more than adequate.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:27AM (#15494826)
    I use Windows 95 OSR2 on several boxes at home, and nasties don't happen. Why? Because OSR2 doesn't support many of the infection vectors present in newer Win32 flavors. It's too old.

    You use them or just happen to have them sitting around gathering dust? There is a difference. I used to "use" and old HP 9000 server in my house until I realized the difference between using a computer and simply being an ubergeek with a tendancy to collect crap.

    -matthew
  • Re:shrug (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:30AM (#15494849)
    Sounds like a candidate for LInux (without KDE or Gnome).

    -matthew
  • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nimrangul (599578) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:43AM (#15494956) Journal
    You're wrong, people do care about if something still runs on Mac OS 9, the people who have hardware which is still perfectly fine and an operating system that still does everything they need. These people see no reason to upgrade to a new machine with new operating system because it hold no benifits, it's just a bunch of money they'd rather use on something like bills.

    The same is true for many Windows 95 users, they have machines that will still run fine for years and will do exactly what they want - their e-mail and some web surfing. I have met these people, when I can I upgrade their hardware so that it's able to at least run 2000, I do so, but sometimes I just don't have the spare parts sitting around waiting for them.

    Not everyone has a couple grand they are able to flop down at the drop of a hat in order to get the latest and greatest, some people have very tight budgets.

    While it is true many of these people don't expect the biggest and best of the software world to run on their machines, it's not that they don't want them to.

    These people are out there, and will stay out there for a long time. The Internet will always have traces of these legacy systems as long as it exists in it's current form, is it not better to at least try to give them something reasonably up-to-date in order to protect ourselves from their inevitable infections?

    That is why OpenSSH runs on so many systems, it was meant to remove a insecurity via telnet and rlogin from the Internet, for everyone's benifit.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:43AM (#15494961) Journal
    If an average user has an operating system (of whatever kind) that works on their system, and associated software that works on their system, and that system does all they need it to, why should they upgrade any of it?

  • by phillywize (980138) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:07PM (#15495158)
    I think one way of looking at this, maybe a pragmatic way, is as a resources issue, sort of along two different lines. First, is maintaining the backwards compatibility burdensome to FF devs? Gotta balance the advantage of Win9x support with the burden of keeping it to those who actually produce and maintain FF -- might those resources be better devoted to keeping FF as good as it is? Second, does the expanded codebase and unwieldy coding impact the usership -- either by performance reductions, bloat, or whatever? So you'd have to also balance this concern with the benefits of Win9x compatibility. I mean, I know one goal of FF is to keep the install package small; Win9x compatibility can't be good for that. Not being so hot on the technical aspects, I can only speculate about the performance impact, but if there is one, I would think it's silly to hold back the vast majority of users to accommodate a qiuckly vanishing minority. Especially when you've got an app that's on the move, like FF.

    Maybe it is mean to Win9x people, but I think that FF has to (a) be well-coded; and (b) efficient, to maintain its level of competition. I think those are edges it has over IE7, and I'd hate to see it squandered on less than 3% of users...and note, that figure is only going in one direction: it's not as if we'll see an explosion in Win98 users sometime.
  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:09PM (#15495171) Journal
    Or maybe I'm still running 98 because it does everything I need and other than Doom 3 (which my PC won't run any way), I've not found any reason to update. Maybe you've got a spare £100 to waste on an OS, but as a student I don't have this sort of spare money laying around.

    And no I can't switch to Linux untill I get a new modem since mines a Winmodem. Which again costs money.. So that leaves me using 98 happily or using my DS to play pictochat alone. Which do I pick now?
  • by sidb (530400) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:13PM (#15495206) Homepage

    If you want to use an eight year old OS, that's fine, but you are pretty much running in legacy mode. You can keep what you've got until your computer breaks, including the current version of FireFox, but any new capabilities that get added to your computer at this point should be regarded as a bit of good fortune. In order to expect to get new free features, you should have a platform based not in the past but in the present with everybody else. It's a simple economy of scale thing for the friendly hackers who give us all such nice presents.

  • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:20PM (#15495245) Homepage Journal
    The problem isn't forced upgrades (which don't exist), but rather the lack of browser fixes that will probably result from Win9x support being dropped from the mainstream FireFox tree.

    Unlike most applications, a web browser actually interfaces with things on the internet, so it is far more likely to be compromised than my old copy of Visio or Comptons Encyclopedia. :-)
  • Optimism! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:27PM (#15495311)
    Two things:

    1. Maybe kmellon will continue support for
    2. This isn't until 3.0, we haven't even had 2.0 yet.


    Also this new theme messes up html ordered lists such as the one above.
  • 386 Windows 3.1 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:46PM (#15495468)
    I demand backwards compatability for my 386 w/ 16 MB ram and running Windows 3.1... but I may never find it.

    Back then MSIE didn't even exist yet, I originally had to use WinSOCKS to get on the Internet with my 2400 baud modem and then use text only browsers.
  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:50PM (#15495496)
    You're wrong, people do care about if something still runs on Mac OS 9, the people who have hardware which is still perfectly fine and an operating system that still does everything they need. These people see no reason to upgrade to a new machine with new operating system because it hold no benifits, it's just a bunch of money they'd rather use on something like bills.

    The same people for whom OS 9 is still good enough tend to be the same people for whom old applications are good enough. And besides, they often don't have the resources to run the latest and greatest software even if they could. Also, a lot of people are "stuck" on old OSes because they want to run old software. So the whole point is moot. The rest of the world is better off when they can cut loose the legacy support. If Firefox is easier to support and debug and imrove because it drops tons of legacy support then I'm all for it. OS 9/Win95 user be damned.

    These people are out there, and will stay out there for a long time. The Internet will always have traces of these legacy systems as long as it exists in it's current form, is it not better to at least try to give them something reasonably up-to-date in order to protect ourselves from their inevitable infections?

    They are already reasonably protected from infections just by running software that nobody cares about writing malware for anymore. And we are protected from them because our software has long since been patched. So who cares? I'm sick of software than invests too much resources in legacy support. Microsoft being a prime example. If Microsoft had had the balls to say "Windows NT won't natively run software written for Win3.1/9x which doesn't obey certain security protocols" in the first place, maybe Windows users wouldn't be running Windows XP as admin all the time and we wouldn't have so many security problems. Microsoft should have done something like Apple and run non-NT apps in a "classic" sandbox until nearly everyone found modern alternatives. Legacy support does nothing but cripple modern software.

    That is why OpenSSH runs on so many systems, it was meant to remove a insecurity via telnet and rlogin from the Internet, for everyone's benifit.

    I'm sure if supporting some 11 year old system compromized the security of OpenSSH for everyone, they'd drop support in a heartbeat. Similarly, if support for obsolete OSes creates bloat and cruft in Firefox, I say drop it.

    -matthew

  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GWBasic (900357) <slashdot&andrewrondeau,com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:24PM (#15496855) Homepage
    Firefox should support DOS, CPM, and run on a PDP-1!

    Let's do a reality check here. If you're running Windows 98, do you care if you can run the latest and greatest programs? Probably not. My guess is that the best approach is to maintain a feature-locked fork that only gets major bug and security fixes.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:54PM (#15497134)
    I am a win98 user. My PC config are 466MHz Celeron, 64 MB SDRAM, 8GB HDD.
    My only needs from a PC are 1. webbrowser(opera works fine, firefox doesnt suit my 64MB RAM Box) 2. yahoo messenger(it still supports win98), and 3.putty(to connect my office network, it still supports win98). All the sensitive work(banking, credit card transactions)i do over my office PC which is secured by 100 layers of corporate policies.
    Someone would must suggest why dont i try running linux?. I use to run RHL 6.0/7.0. but RHL 8.0 and above are so bulky that it doesnt even install. Heard alot about ubantu, 5.05 live CD doesnt even load. so finally gave up linux. win98 is able to run the 3 application i need at a time with satisfactory speed.
    Now someone tell me, why should i upgrade by home system?.

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