Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg, last month, quietly announced the death of 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows. He posted a thread over on the Google Groups, mozilla.dev.apps.firefox discussion board titled “Turning off win64 builds” making the announcement. At the thread, he listed some main reasons behind taking such a decision. Some of the reasons given are, missing or less plugin support for 64-bit versions of Firefox, slower 64-bit builds than 32-bit versions. Another reason given was that the stability team had problems distinguishing crash statistics between 32-bit and 64-bit builds of Firefox. After the announcement was made, a huge uproar from 64-bit for Windows users was seen on a Hacker News thread pointing to another discussion board.
Now, after what Smedberg primarily referred to as “significant negative feedback,” he has made a compromise on the decision of stopping Firefox 64-bit builds, he had reviewed that feedback, consulted with his release engineering team. According to a Google Groups post on the mozilla.dev.apps.firefox discussion board titled “Update on turning off 64-bit Windows builds,” the main reason for the change of plans appears to be that certain users regularly run into the 4GB memory limits of 32-bit builds due to hundreds or even thousands of tabs. So, Firefox 64-bit users can rejoice now as the development of Firefox 64-bit for Windows nightly builds will not be switched off, even though final build may never be released.
Here’s what he has to say about his new decision:
After I announced my decision to disable 64-bit Windows nightlies, there was significant negative feedback. After reviewing that feedback, and consulting with Release Engineering, I believe that we can keep a set of users happy by making a modification to the original plan.
Most importantly, it seems that there are users who regularly run into the 4GB memory limits of 32-bit builds. These users often have hundreds or even thousands of tabs. These users are using the 64-bit nightlies not primarily to be part of our testing community, but because those builds are the best product available.
At this point, the Mozilla project does not have the resources to actively support this use case. Making these builds, however, is not a significant burden on our Release Engineering group.
His modified plan is as follows (which was to migrate all Firefox 64-bit users from the 64-bit Nightly channel to the 32-bit Nightly channel via automatic updates):
- Migrate all existing users of win64 nightly channel builds to the win32 nightly channel builds via automatic update.
- Continue to build win64 Nightly builds and updates on the nightly channel. Users who need the 64-bit builds will have to download it after the migration point (date TBD).
- Change the default first-run and update page for win64 builds to explain to users that they are not supported.
- Disable the crash reporter for win64 builds
- Enable click-to-play plugins by default in the win64 builds.
- Discontinue the win64 tests and on-checkin builds to reduce release engineering load. By default, do not generate win64 builds on try.
- win64 builds will be considered a tier-3 build configuration.
According to Mozilla’s Supported build configurations page, “Tier-3 platforms have a maintainer or community which attempt to keep the platform working. These platforms may or may not work at any time, and often have little test coverage.” So, basically it’s may not be the best solution what Firefox 64-bit users wanted but at least its a welcome compromise.
Mozilla Firefox 64-bit Builds Download
You can download Firefox 64-bit Windows from the official Mozilla FTP server. Visit this FTP link to download the latest 64-bit Firefox versions for Windows from Mozilla. Please note, you will not be able to find the 64-bit build of Firefox at http://nightly.mozilla.org/ anymore.