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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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  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:04AM (#15494157)
    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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:08AM (#15494185)
    Anybody still using pre-Windows 2000 would be much better off using Ubuntu.
  • Re:shrug (Score:2, Interesting)

    by timelorde ( 7880 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:09AM (#15494190)
    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.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:11AM (#15494208) Homepage Journal
    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 insecure OSs.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:16AM (#15494246)
    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 to the OS, especially for a GUI app.
  • 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.
  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:07AM (#15494650) Homepage
    You can't play the statistics card to win this one, unfortunately.

    Only 3.3% of people are using Linux. Might as well drop support for them, too.
    And who's maintaining a Mac build for only 3.6% of the population? WTF?
  • Dear God! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:31AM (#15494858)
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @01:30PM (#15495827)

    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.

    Then the best of your knowledge is sadly mistaken.

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/archive/win98/dow nloads/igmpw98.mspx?mfr=true [microsoft.com]

    http://www.cert-in.org.in/vulnerability/civn-2005- 32.htm [cert-in.org.in]

    http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/1163 [securityfocus.com]

    http://www.cert-rs.tche.br/listas/infoseg/msg00260 .html [cert-rs.tche.br]

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin /ms01-059.mspx [microsoft.com]

    Those are just a few issues with the TCP/IP stack, NETBIOS, uPNP on Windows 98 that I found within 60 seconds of searching Google. I remember running 98SE back in the day - there used to be patch after patch for it, just like for any modern OS today. Don't kid yourself or anyone else that 98 is a secure OS. Likening it to being firewalled out of the box is rediculous.

    DRM? What DRM? You can't do DRM when you've got no security model.

    98 has DRM in WMP7+ just like XP does.

    98 runs services also. They're not user processes, so they don't appear in Task manager on 98. Just because you can't see them doesn't mean that they don't exist. How do you think NETBIOS works? By magic?

    If I had to recommend a secure OS to anyone, 98 would come way down my list. I'd at least choose something that was still vendor supported.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:33PM (#15496378) Homepage Journal
    No, you're not. I'm still running 98 on my kids' PC because Reader Rabbit etc. don't work until Win2K and I don't want to shell out for XP for no reason. I also keep an up-to-date copy of Firefox on it so they can browse Playhouse Disney and other preschooler-friendly sites.

    It's on the same LAN as my wife's relatively new iMac, a FreeBSD server, a Linux laptop, and an OpenBSD firewall. It's not that we're technically illiterate or poor, but that there's no legitimate need for us to upgrade the little gaming machine to something newer.

  • 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?

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM