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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.
    • 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?
      • 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).
        • 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:5, Interesting)

            by just_forget_it (947275) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:26PM (#15495293)
            I am currently at work using Windows 98. From my perspective, using Windows 98 is getting more and more awful. Especially since I have to coordinate with Engineers using AutoCAD 2007 on Windows XP machines, making it work with my Acad 2002 win98 machine.

            Arguing against stopping support for windows 98 makes about as much sense as being against companies stopping support for DOS or CP/M. Windows 98 is in the same boat, eventually the only users will be people running highly specialized custom niche software that CANT run on any other OS.
        • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ichigo 2.0 (900288)
          '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:Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

        by zimus (68982) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:51AM (#15494511)
        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.

        Actually, up until now the most secure thing for win98 users has been to leave the computer turned off, and unplugged from the wall.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

        by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@mas k l inn.net> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:03AM (#15494614)

        W98 support will be dropped for Firefox 3.0 because it's using Cairo (which does not build on W98

        Firefox 3.0 is at least a year in the future, mid-2007 that is. If you haven't switched from W98 nearly 10 years after it's been released, you're asking for trouble no matter what.

        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?

        W98 is a piece of crap security wise.

        • Firefox 2 which will be out in the third quarter of 2006 is the last version of Firefox to support Windows 9x. Mozilla has a policy of supporting a milestone release till two add ional milestone releases are made. This means that Mozilla will be supporting Firefox 2 with security patches until Firefox 4 is out or whatever the milestone release after Firefox 3 is named. An educated guess would be that Mozilla support of Firefox 2 will end some time around the middle of 2008.

          mozilla.org bug - Don't kill Win [mozillanews.org]

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

          by GWBasic (900357)
          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:5, Informative)

      by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:03AM (#15494154) Homepage Journal
      Pre-W2K systems are still in wide use in the home. I know this because my Computer Club regularly services them at PC Clinic [grc4.org]. Dropping support for pre-W2K systems puts Firefox in a bad position for these systems. We may have to look at Opera instead.
      • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        Part of the argument for dropping Win9x support is that it doesn't run on Linux from 1995-1998 either.

        I think its smart to drop support for Win9x; its a dead code base, and its numbers will only shrink.

        Someone in the counter bug report got all huffy about using Win32 API calls (in response to another developer saying there are APIs that would help reduce code complexity alot, but can't use b/c its not compatible with 9x). I'm not sure what people expect; at some point, you're going to have to make calls t
        • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

          by Short Circuit (52384) *
          I'd make the argument that I see, today, many more Windows machines from that era than Linux machines. Microsoft has actually done a better job with API backwards-compatibility than Linux has.

          Sure, Linux still supports QMAGIC and ZMAGIC A.out binaries, but last time I wanted to run a binary from that era, I had to download and compile libc5. Open source is the only thing that keeps software from that era alive. (Else we wouldn't have QuakeForge, Twilight or DarkPlaces.)
        • As a possible counter-argument, OS/2 has (at least) two different actively maintained Firefox trees, multiple SeaMonkey trees, etc., and it (Warp 4) dates from 1996. :-)

          Even if the official version stopped, though, I'm sure an unofficial one will appear. If the OS/2 folks can do it with their much smaller numbers, I'm sure the Win9x folks can do it.
      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:07PM (#15495161) Homepage
        Don't rush.

        The support is being dropped from Firefox 3. Firefox 2, out later this year, will have windows 98 support. Firefox 3, which probably won't be out for another 18 months after that, will be the one without windows 9x support. By that point I would expect to still see some, but even less, windows 9x boxes.
    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:34AM (#15494380) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • 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
        • I use them. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:46AM (#15494987) Homepage Journal
          I use them rather heavily. Since I have an 8-port KVM switch at home, I can use a rather large mix of boxes on a regular basis, and I find that I tend to bounce between Warp 4 and Win95 OSR2 most of the time.

          One of the Win95 OSR2 boxes is my secondary desktop box at home which I use almost daily (mainly things like Word 97, StarOffice 5.1a, FireFox, various MIDI apps for my Yamaha keyboard, Visio, etc.) and which is still my main gaming box (I play a lot of classics like UT, Tribes 1, TA, SC, AOE2, HomeWorld, NFS 3/4, Madden 2001, etc).

          A second Win95 OSR2 box is my main fileserver (a Proliant 2500), and a third is smaller fileserver dedicated to MP3 files (an IBM IntelliStation 6899, which is a VERY nice PPro box).

          Most of the others are multiboot boxes which are booted into other things most of the time (Linux variants, eCS, or OS/2), but which are booted to Windows 95 OSR2 with a QuikMenu 4 desktop if I want to put together a gaming LAN, so those copies are mostly idle. That much less reason to upgrade them, though.
      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:38AM (#15494908)
        > 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.

        "It's too old", by the way, doesn't mean "Nobody bothers to find infection vectors for it", it means "they were never implemented."

        Other than the TCP/NetBIOS stuff (that never, to the best of my knowledge, had a remote exploit that let anyone take control of the box), a box running 98SE runs no services. No uPNP exploit. No DCOM/RPC. No Messenger. No nothing. For all intents and purposes, it's already firewalled when you plug it into the wall.

        Warning: Rant coming on.

        I'd go so far to say that 98SE out of the box, plus Mozilla, is more secure than XP ever was. After a user actually runs the malware, it's a draw. 9x has no security model, and the XP box wins in theory: an OS that supports privileged/nonprivileged users is at least capable of defending against user stupidity. But in practice, the 2K/XP malware uses privilege escalation bugs to turn XP's security model something effectively identical to 9x's: "None at all."

        9x is also IMHO more recoverable than XP; replacing a borked .DLL for an updated (or downgraded, because some idiot installer overwrote it) .DLL is easy when you've got a "talk-to-the-bare-metal" DOS prompt and there's no OS in the way telling you you can't overwrite the file. DRM? What DRM? You can't do DRM when you've got no security model. 9x doesn't phone home. 9x doesn't care - doesn't know - if you make a drive image (ah, a DOS prompt again!) of your boot partition, burn it onto a CD, and file it away until the user hoses something badly enough that it can't be recovered.

        Sure, the OS was a fancy DOS shell that sucked balls compared to any real OS if you were trying to develop software on it, but it made a damn good single-user home/gaming platform. If it weren't for the 137GB drive (not partition, drive) size limit and the 512MB RAM size limit, I'd run it today as my gaming rig.

        OK. Rant over.

        I suspect that the real reason the Mozilla team is dropping support for 9x is because the OS sucks balls, and the ball-sucking makes it not fun to develop software on it. It's got nothing to do with security. Because the OS that runs no services, doesn't get 0wn3d.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Informative)

        Why? Because OSR2 doesn't support many of the infection vectors present in newer Win32 flavors. It's too old.

        This is true only if you didn't install the IE4+ desktop update. Otherwise you have a load of vulnerable shell components that will never be patched.
  • shrug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aleksiel (678251) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:56AM (#15494104)
    i'd be hard pressed to find someone who runs anything pre-win2000 as their main/only computer and also has technical sense enough to want to use firefox.
    • Re:shrug (Score:2, Interesting)

      by timelorde (7880)
      Me, for one. Older hardware, still in decent shape. No reason to throw it away just yet.

      Factory-installed Win 98. IE used only for windows update. Internally, it might be swiss cheese, but it runs so few services (and it's protected by an external firewall), it's probably more secure than the older "NT" derivatives...

      And it's "too slow" for the kids. No Flash, IM, iTunes, etc.

      I NEED MUH FIREFOXEN!
       
      • Re:shrug (Score:2, Insightful)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        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: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:shrug (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952)
        Sounds like a candidate for LInux (without KDE or Gnome).

        -matthew
    • My work uses only win98 and win95 because newer versions of windows won't connect to the server. We don't have the $30-40 thousand dollars to blow on a new windows or linux setup.(while the server software is available for linux the front end software require windows).

      Firefox is the only browser that we can use safely. it's not like we can trust IE. with the firewall I have kempt viruses to a minimum and spyware is an occasional hassle.

      So there's a dozen machines for you. Why because they haven't had har
      • You don't need to upgrade your machines. When FF 3.0 comes out and doesn't support your platform, just continue to use FF 2.x (or whatever the last version to support Win9x happens to be).

        However, you might consider setting up a test box with Linux and Wine to see if you can use your win9x-only software under Wine. If only to know what your real options are.
      • My work uses only win98 and win95 because newer versions of windows won't connect to the server.

        Let me guess, your server is Banyan Vines (or whatever that was called) or Netware 3.x.

        Firefox is the only browser that we can use safely.

        And you will continue to run Firefox... just not 3.0.

        -matthew
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • I agree. While I surf primarily with Firefox on Ubuntu Linux, I still have a Win98 partition around for some games. I personally wouldn't mind if they dropped support for 9x. They should still keep it up for download though. Some security fixes could always be back-ported for that branch, the same way the Linux kernel 2.4.x still gets some back-ported features from 2.6.x. Or GTK+2 2.8, 2.6, 2.4 or Gnumeric 1.6, 1.4, etc.)

      Its true that a sizable number have moved on to Linux but quite a number like me, still
    • The last version of Firefox to support 98 and earlier should be kept up for easy download.

      What is your security vulnerability threshold? Though the vulnerabilities in the OS itself may dwarf anything exposed by the browser, there is still some ethical question about enabling possible stupid behavior.

      The increasing availability of free, robust, svelte GNU/Linux distributions might offer a better alternative than metaphorically sticking forks in the electrical outlet with an old Windows version.

    • You hit the nail on the head. 1.5 should be made available for awhile and security bugs should be fixed. By the time 3.0 comes out, many of those machines are going to be approaching almost 10 years old. Do you really expect a computer you buy today to run new software while keeping the exact same OS? It's one thing to update all the software on 10 year old hardware. But it isn't realistic to think you can have a hybrid of a 10 year old OS with a modern day browser.
    • Tell that to the Mozilla.org folks who were singing their own praises for continuing to support those poor Win9x bastards after Microsoft dropped their support ;p Now that nobody remembers MS dropping them, Mozilla.org is ready to do the same.
    • They dropped MacOS9 support a while back too, Mozilla 1.2.x was the last version to support it, while the last version to support NT4/Alpha was something similar...

      If code bloat is their concern, it would make sense to split windows support into 2 seperate areas (the base tree already supports a large number of os's, so split windows into 2, one with 9x support and one without) and then concentrate on the newer versions, but keep the older code around so it can still be built, and anyone wanting to keep upd
  • I would like to see current user numbers? Windows 95/98/Me can't be big anyway. Maybe it's time for these people to upgrade or buy a new machine. There isn't much NEW software that supports these setups anyway. And anyone who is using them simply might be stuck with FF1.5. So what? You can't have all the new technologies on a five or ten year old machine / OS.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There's about 10x more Windows 98 users on the Internet than there are Linux desktop users. So the numerical argument doesn't fly.

      It's a technical decision -- Win98 doesn't support the transparancy APIs or something like that.
    • Current numbers:

      W3Schools Browser Stats [w3schools.com]

      This says that as of April 2006, the site had the following OS breakdown:

      WinXP W2000 Win98 WinNT W2003 Linux Mac
      74.0% 11.2% 1.8% 0.3% 1.9% 3.3% 3.6%

      Obviously this is not a totally valid study for the Internet as a whole (it also says 25% of the browsers in April were Firefox), but if we say the W3Schools demographic is about the same as the Firefox demographic, and also consider the user base for Win98 is dropping by about .2% per month, then the

  • 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.
    • I see the exact opposite. Windows XP still runs DOS programs. How often do you use that? None is as bad as Microsoft about holding on to the past.
      As a programmer I understand why the developers of Firefox are doing this. Win 95, 98, and Me are actually pretty different from NT, 2000, and XP. They use a different code base and have a lot of different APIs.
      At the company I work at we have just also ended support for the 95-Me code base. It was getting too hard to support both the new OS and those old and inse
    • Firefox is already much slower-loading that it used to be a few years ago,
      I'm glad I'm not the only one that has noticed this. FF seems to lag one-half to one full second behind IE when loading pages both at work and at home on Win2kPro. Mind you, I'm willing to put up with it so I can have Adblock, but if you ask me IE clearly has the advantage in speed.

      OSS is not immune from creeping featurism and bloat.
  • I dunno, it's what people said when they found out IE7 wouldn't support 98.

    I guess it's a little mean to the 98 people, but I think it's reasonable. It's hard to support a lot of platforms, and with Vista coming out that would have been 4+ Windows platforms to support without dropping 9x. Also, since it's open-source, there's plenty of opportunity for people to make a fork designed just for Win9x if there's enough interest. 9x people should really upgrade though. Win2k, FYI, is one of the easiest Windows to pirate. There's a hack that someone found to make the CD not even ask you for a key to install. I'm sure most of the ISOs at http://www.isohunt.com/ [isohunt.com] have it, if anyone needs it. Or here's [ubuntu.com] another place to get your upgrade.
  • This hurts, especially for people like me who like keeping a few older machines running, but I can see why they would do it. As much as I love running old hardware with the best software possible, these days anyone keeping a W95 or 98 box running for nerd purposes could just as easily throw a lite Linux install together for it.

    It is a bit sad for our grandparents who've been running the same old machine for AOL purposes since the stone age, but it's high time we built them some new Athlon boxes anyhow. P
    • Just install Linux on it, geez. Do you really have that many legacy apps that can't be run with the current version of wine?
      • Just install Linux on it, geez. Do you really have that many legacy apps that can't be run with the current version of wine?

        That's all well and good functionality-wise, but try telling a classic car enthusiast who keeps an antique Ford roadster running perfectly that it'd be much easier and cheaper to just get a new Toyota.
  • If there is demand for it, I suppose log term support of 1.5 specifically tailored to the pre-Win2K versions of windows can be done. And if there is really good support (corporate-level, maybe), a separate build taking out all Win2K+ cruft from the 1.5 branch can be done for smaller download sizes.

    Truthfully, I don't see that much support. :-)
    • If there is demand for it...

      If there is demand for it, then it would be a nice little cash-earner for some university student. 3.0 comes out, has 9x-related bugs, the student fixes them, says "when I receive [x] amount in donations, I'll release the fixes".

      Remember this is open-source software, you don't have to put up with whatever the copyright holder decides.

  • 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
    • Ohhh Testify!

      The is slavish devotion to legacy support is a disease. If a person can live with an OS that is almost a decade old, then they really ought to be able to live with its associated browsers. This backwards support has hamstrung Vista, let's not let it creep into Firefox. I love the new upgrades every six months or so. Its wonderful.
      • Vista's problem has nothing to do with legacy support and everything to do with an apparent lack of good software design and development practices at Microsoft (coupled with a long-term strategy of planned obsolescence).
    • 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:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952)
        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
  • Maybe this will mean that we will finally get a build that actually makes use of Windows unicode API?
  • No one who is still running Win98 as anything other than a geek installation is going to migrate to Linux. These people had six years to move to only the next highest version of Windows (itself now dated), and they didn't. That's not because they were waiting patiently for Linux, it's because they don't care about updates, they just want everything to work the same as it did in 1998. They certainly don't want to learn how to install some new OS and get everything working. And it doesn't have Microsoft W
  • Dear God! (Score:2, Interesting)

    I mean, win98 is 8 years old. . . That's OLDER than most people who use web browsers these days!
    If we don't remove support for old stuff like that then there will never be any room for new things.

    I'm not saying that every time something new comes out that everyone should upgrade, but when there's a significant change to a significant change from the old software (vista to xp to win2k/98) then I'd say its about time to abandon those who seem unwilling to change.
  • by Xenomorph.NET (969401) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:45AM (#15494983)
    Its a bit misleading saying Firefox/Mozilla is dropping "pre Win2k" support. It would be more accurate to say it's dropping NT4/Win9x support, and going NT5+ only. Windows 2000 was released late 1999/early 2000, and Windows Me was released later mid 2000. WinMe (and therefor parts of Win9x) is newer than Windows 2000. Anyway, I don't know how this will affect people. I use Windows 98SE on some older systems. My mother uses Windows 98SE on her only system. (mostly Pentium MMX 233MHz w/ 96-256 Megs RAM). Using something like WinXP on those systems would be a joke, and even going with Win2k isnt good. They'd run a lot slower and lose all support for DOS. Win98SE runs perfectly stable on the systems we use, and all of our programs work. I know we're not the only ones who use computers like those. If Windows 98SE "just works" - why upgrade? Most of the software out there now runs on older computers and operating systems - at least on the Windows platform. That's one reason why Windows is still so popular. Backwards compatibility. It's a shame to see Firefox specifically drop support for an older OS.
  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:09PM (#15495178) Homepage
    There are lots of people in the world that are still using Windows 95/98/Me. More than Mac, Linux and UNIX combined. Many have older machines that don't support Windows 2000. Most have no idea how to upgrade an operating system. Some only get a new operating system when they buy a new PC. Many can't afford either a new PC or a new OS. None have a clue what Linux is or how to use it.

    But, many of these people can, with a little help from a webpage or a techie friend, install a new browser. One that can protect them from online nasties. One that doesn't let people install random bits of code. One that lets them explore new areas online. This is far easier than an OS upgrade. Or a new PC. And it's free.

    Firefox officially dropped Windows 95 support quite a while back, but it does still run fine on Windows 95. I keep instructions on how to Run Firefox on Windows 95 [johnhaller.com] on my website for just this reason. It gets a couple thousand page views a month. And I still get emails from people thanking me for compiling it.

    Windows 98, on the other hand, has been officially supported this entire time. And lots of people are running it. While we may not have a solid source for stats (and, no, W3 Schools is not a solid source for stats... it's geek-centric and not reflective of the overall web), something like TheCounter.com provides some global OS stats [thecounter.com] that are a bit more indicative of the net at large... at least in terms of those visiting smaller sites.

    So, basically, dropping Windows 9x support would be a disservice to lots of folks around the world. Now, if Firefox 2.0 is going to keep support for it AND have security patches issues for quite a while after FF3 is released, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. But having an actively-maintained, secure browser for these older Windows users is important.
  • by Sark666 (756464) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:30PM (#15495339)
    I have a bunch of friends who bought their first computer around 98-99 when everyone and their grandma were getting computers. Most of them have gotten hooked and jumped on the upgrade bandwagon. They all have new hardware now and xp except 3 of them.

    These 3 found it nice to have a computer but didn't feel the need to get a new machine. Nothing's broke and everything works, well except, strangely to them, their computer keeps getting slower and slower, and crashes more. They don't want something new, they just want it in the state that they originally got it.

    I have reinstalled for them a few times but sooner or later it gets back in the 'bad' state. I'd recommend xp but these machines are pII 450's,- pIII 600's and I think only one has 128 megs of ram.

    So in the end I made a ghost image of their drive and even showed them how to restore it.

    Now, every so often they restore their image, and everything back the way it was and they love it. Cause this way, it's not just a fresh install, it's got all their drivers, programs installed, email configured, shortcuts they like etc all ready to go. I just tell them back up my docs (and save everything there) and copy that back once the restore is complete.

    Yes, pretty trivial stuff to the average geek, but my friends feel impowered now that they can always get their machine back into a perfect state if it every starts acting up.

    And, to put off restoring, my main piece of advice was never ever launch ie and always stick to firefox.

    Ya, I guess these machines are getting really long in the tooth now, but it still does what they want, surf the web, check email, listen to tunes, burn a cd. Thats all they want and these machines and 98 still fit the bill. And sadly, linux isn't an option here. Kde or gnome are pigs on machines like these and believe me they'll want kde or gnome, anything less will seem too barebones to them. Xfce is close, but not yet.
  • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:59PM (#15495577)
    I don't see the big deal here. Firefox -- today -- runs fine ( I suppose, I use OS X ) on win98. When Firefox 3 or whatever comes out and drops support, so be it. But 1.5 and 2.0 ( I suppose ) will continue to work, right?

    So what's the big deal? The people *still* running win98 are clearly not bleeding-edge upgrade-or-die types, so what's the commotion? It's not like they're being forced to upgrade to a new, incompatible firefox.
  • by popo (107611) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @05:25PM (#15497876) Homepage

    Why? Because I own it. So for me its free. And Windows XP is absurdly expensive.

    Unlike XP which "phones home" with each install, Win 98 can be installed, and re-installed on successive machines.

    Its stable. And perfectly fast enough for coding, web design, etc. I have resisted purchasing
    XP almost out of pride: I *like* '98. It does what any good operating system *should* do: it works.

    And it runs all the software I want it to run: OpenOffice, Flash, Firefox, Outlook, etc.

    Saying "Microsoft stopped supporting '98, so why should Firefox?" is an absurd question.

    Microsoft stopped supporting '98 because they'll do anything in their power to get users to
    purchase the next version of Windows, (even if that new version does virtually nothing to enhance
    the experience of most users).

    Why the Firefox team is asking users to purchase a new version of windows makes little sense to me.

    Microsoft hasn't even come close to convincing me that Windows XP is worth the upgrade cost. So
    why should I?

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