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Firefox to Drop Pre-Windows 2000 Support 491

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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  • Misleading title (Score:1, Informative)

    by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:01AM (#15494136)
    Pre-Windows 2000 will also include Windows NT, which is still supported. Only W98 support is dropped.
  • 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.
  • Sorry, wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <megazzt@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:09AM (#15494197) Homepage
    9x/ME/NT support is dropped. Check the Bugzilla bug linked to in the article, it states it right in the title.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15494230)
    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).

    Since you're the one doing their repair, have you considered installing Linux/BSD OS for them? that's what i do when people with old machines demand good software. They don't even need to worry about games since those machines don't have the necessary horsepower to play them.

    It basicly all goes like this:
    - Can you repair my PC?
    - Sure bring it over... ouch, that's quite an old piece.
    - Yes, but it does everything i need. At least it used to before windows got corrupted (somehow).
    - Look, i don't have the old software to get it running again, but there is some new software that will allow you to do everything you used to do, it just looks a bit different.
    - Different?(starts sweating) i just want to use Word and play Solitair... i don't need anything new, can't you just give me my old windows?
    - if you have the CD sure... oh let me guess you pirated it?(looks dumbly and doesn't know what pirating is.) Look i'll show you the thing i wanna install and you tell me if you like it.
    - (Agrees) /me inserts DSL or some XFC live cd into his own computer and shows the guy around
    (20 minutes later everything is installed and he can happily play solitair again)

    Way better alternative than using the old Windows98/95/Me/3.11 isn't it? and they don't even need to repair their pc every few weeks anymore. no viruses, no spam....

    consider this for your customers/friends who run old machines.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:34AM (#15494386) Homepage Journal
    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.)
  • Re:Excuse Me? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ElleyKitten ( 715519 ) <kittensunrise@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:57AM (#15494570) Journal
    You want me to dumpster this, invest in a new box -- and why?

    I believe the gp actually said you should install Linux on it, not dumpster it.

    He recommends Debian, but if you don't know a Linux guru, I recommend Xubuntu. You can try out the live cd and see if you like it without hurting Windows.

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

    by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT 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.

  • by Ambidisastrous ( 964023 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:12AM (#15494706)

    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 developers really shouldn't feel too guilty about not adding new features for Win98 users after v2.0.

    On a related note, is there another free browser out there that specifically tries to be compatible with as many EOL'd OSes as possible?

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

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:41AM (#15494938)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 kbrosnan ( 880121 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:24PM (#15495274) Homepage

    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 Win98 [mozillanews.org] If a strong community can form to write a wrapper around Firefox 3 as described in bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=330276#c36 Firefox 3 could work in Windows 9x.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:45PM (#15495458)
    In support of the parent's sentiments:

    When Windows 98 was originally released, PCs were ~300MHz, single threaded, 32-bit. Most PCs had 32-64 Megs of RAM. They had floppy drives, 8x CDROMS (CDRW was just coming out, and ZIP/JAZZ drives were still all the rage), mixed ISA and PCI. Video cards had 4-16 megs of memory, and they were AGP 1-2x. Hard drives were 4-20 GB ATA-66 (66 MB/s). Serial and parallel ports were the norm. USB 1.0 was just arriving, and firewire was nowhere to be seen on PCs. People used 56k Modems to connect to the internet.

    Now it's hard to find anything slower than a dual core 2.8GHz, some 64-bit. Today most PCs have 512Mb-1G of RAM. Floppy is dead. CDROMS have grown up into dual layer DVD burners. ISA is dead. Heck: even PCI 1.0 is on its last legs. These days you can't find a video card with less than 64 Megs and 8x AGP support, but the newer cards are all PCI-E and have at least 256 Megs. Hard drives are 300GB+ Serial ATA (300 MB/s). USB 2.0 and firewire are the norm, and it's hard to even find a serial or parallel cable at Radio Shack. Most people use ethernet to connect to 1.5+ MBit cablemodems/DSL.
  • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:2, Informative)

    by bmalia ( 583394 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:49PM (#15495485) Journal
    If I were you, I'd buy a cheap second hard drive for your machine. Something around 30GB's will be more than enough. Then install Linux on that hardrive, makeing your machine a dual boot. This way, you're father will have an inexpensive way to test out linux. If he doesn't like it, he can still use 98 and you can use linux. If for some reason, you decide that linux is not for you too, then you can always change the extra HD over to an extra drive for Win98.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Informative)

    by aywwts4 ( 610966 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @12:51PM (#15495504)
    A floppy drive is all you need, transfer a whole image of a windows CD Rom directory to a fat32 partition. Boot via a boot floppy and navigate over to the \i3856\i386\winnt That will begin the instalation of xp or 2000 you desire.

    Look online for windows instalation from harddrive or without CD or something like that.
    Good Luck.

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