End of Firefox Support for Windows 2000

| 33 Comments

For a number of years we've held off on updating our Windows toolchain to a newer version of Visual Studio, and in so doing preserved support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP RTM and SP1. Firefox developers and the 99.6% of our Windows users have paid a price for this support, though. Our developers have not been able to take advantage of new compiler features and have had to struggle to keep valuable optimizations from breaking -- including having had to back out and ultimately delay some important new features like SPDY. Our users have have suffered a slower Firefox than would be possible as both direct and indirect results of moving to a more modern compiler.

So this week, after a few months of discussion and evaluation of the latest Firefox user numbers and the pros and cons of moving our tools forward, I've called for Mozilla to begin the process for ending support on those older Windows version. Next Tuesday or Wednesday, after Firefox 12 moves to Aurora, the Mozilla Release Engineering team will begin upgrading our Windows build systems to Visual Studio 2010. With VS2010, we will no longer be able to build a Firefox that runs on Windows 2000, Windows XP RTM, and Windows Service Pack 1.

It's always a difficult decision to leave some users behind. The number of Firefox users on those OS versions -- less than one half of one percent of our Windows Firefox users, and the benefits to our development process and the hundreds of millions of Firefox users on XP SP2 and above, however, compel us to look forward rather than back.

If you are a Windows 2000 user, Firefox 12, which will be supported until June 5th, will be the final supported Firefox release. After that, your options are limited. Switching to Opera is probably the best path forward.

If you're a Windows XP user still on RTM or Service Pack 1, I strongly urge you to install the free Windows Service Pack updates.

And finally, for Enterprises adopting the ESR, these older Windows versions will be supported for the length of the first ESR of Firefox. That works out to an extra 6 months or so before these Windows versions become unsupported.

33 Comments

How come you can't do both? Release a Firefox for 1995-2000 computers, 2000-2005 computers and 2005-future computers. Palemoon and waterfox showed you could build an optimized version of Firefox so why not the other way around?

Ferdinand, we are going to be writing code which won't work on those older systems. Maintaining a fork of our codebase which excludes future compiler-dependent work while still ensuring we can take security fixes and other non-compiler dependent improvements would be a huge burden on development.

When this many factors come together, (I didn't even mention the fact that these OS versions haven't been supported by Microsoft for years) it's time to cut the cord.

If Palemoon or Waterfox want to try to maintain a Firefox fork for older versions of Windows, they are free to do it.

- A

I'm glad to hear that you are finally putting users on modern OS's first again.

I never understood why you guys kept supporting Windows 2000 after Microsoft dropped official support for it in July 2010. It is just bad to support an OS that is no longer getting patched. If the users of an unsupported OS want to keep using it, that is one thing. It is another thing for software developers to feel compelled support an unsupported OS for a minority of stubborn users.

Well, it is good as Microsoft doesn't support with new versions XP, and is going soon to stop releasing IE for Vista.

Though it is questionable, it still makes some sense. It might help them to sell some more licenses, but I think that is not their main point. I think their main point is to move ecosystem forward. Because developing for XP is so much harder than for Vista. On Vista things just work and on XP you have to hack them to make it work. So, having XP in family means that Microsoft is losing competitiveness on global scale, as it gives developers some more motivation to develop for something else.

So it is reasonable to move away from Win 2000, actually what I am saying is that Mozilla shouldn't wait that long to move from XP... when it gets to 5% it is really OK.

XP SP3 is fully supported by Microsoft, Ivan is wrong. Switching to MSVC2010 compiler is long overdue, finally we'll get better performance and less compiler bugs than the previous MSVC2005 compiler.

XP SP3, you can start IE9 on Win XP SP3? Please tell me how?

Ivan, who cares about IE9? It's a crap browser and doesn't even support HTML5 well.

Firefox works better, has better HTML5 support and works on XP SP3, the last decent OS from Microsoft that isn't based on NT6.x disaster.

I hope it's not misplaced pride making you folks balk from recommending people left behind to jump to Chrome instead.

@Ivan, Windows XP SP3 is supported until 2014 by Microsoft and Mozilla will support Sp3 at very least until then too and probably a year or two more. In fact Windows SP 2 support ended on July 13, 2010 so I think you be grateful for Mozilla for supporting a discontinued product for as long as they have.

@oldsnake: Chrome doesn't support Windows 2000, and never has.

Anyway, this is a also good move because you could basically make no security guarantees on such systems because they weren't provided with security updates for quite some time now, so I always kind of wondered that you didn't mention this anywhere (like on the system requirements page).

BTW: Thanks to the link to the Opera homepage I just noticed they do not support Win95 anymore? Wasn't that a speciality of Opera some time ago?

@XP SP3
It is hard to answer to any geek as they have their own measurements that have no correspondence with the rest of the world, so I can't write anything more than I did, if you do understand it is OK, if you don't, it is still OK.

And @LastE, I don't say Mozilla should stop supporting XP now, it would be crazy, I am just saying that Microsoft is trying to kill XP as fast as it can and that it will have benefits for the Windows ecosystem. And as most people use Windows, I guess that it would have some benefits for humankind in terms of better applications. Though, it will come at some costs, and Microsoft will actually earn some money from that, I have no doubt in that.

BTW, it is strange how many people would vote here for not supporting IE6, but they would all vote for supporting Windows XP forever. Isn't the logic same? You think nothing happened in term of APIs in those 10 years, just HTML advanced?

Couldn't a third party just compile a version using a different compiler?
Older VS version? gcc? Or does the windows version use some VS extensions?

Also, I did a quick google on the VS2010/Win2K problem, and it seems the runtime libs from VS2010 introduce some dependencies on EncodePointer/DecodePointer, which can have a workaround (http://tedwvc.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/how-to-get-visual-c-2010-mfc-applications-to-run-on-windows-2000/)

Anyhow, even though there is no official supported version, are there things that prevent users from compiling a version that will run in windows 2000?

When is the actual cut off date?

Thank-you

Interestingly, because the rendering Firefox is/was never fully platform agnostic this will also "fix" issues that occur because of outdated libraries (like Uniscribe for font shaping) on these platforms. The lowest common detonator of what Firefox is able to render correctly (e.g. Arabic/Thai texts) on any supported platform will improve with this.

@Brenno : You can make Opera work on Windows 95/98 after installing KernelEx ( http://kernelex.sourceforge.net/ )

@Guy: KernelEx does NOT support nor work under Win95, only Win98 & WinME. Also, Opera versions 11 and higher have officially dropped support for Win95/98/ME/NT4 but Opera versions 10.60 to 10.63 can install but can't run at all under Win95/98/ME/NT4, although the latest version of KernelEx can work around that problem. But Opera versions 10.54 and earlier can function under Win95/98/ME/NT4 w/out KernelEx.

It was a matter of time for Mozilla to drop support for Win2000, even though it took some time.

@osef I'm with on that, I think Firefox 12 will be 24th of April

@Ivan, Internet Explorer 9 will not run on Windows XP SP2/SP3 at all or Windows Vista pre-SP2. Internet Explorer 10 even dropped Windows Vista support too.

For me, I've been using Win2K for over two years now and I find that the removal of Windows 2000 support is surely going to be unfortunate for a very tiny percentage of users. :(

Also, Mac OS X 10.4 and PowerPC machines will be out of luck six weeks sooner when Firefox 3.6 hits EOL in less than 12 weeks time too.

Well...all hope is not lost here...because I'm still running Win2K with 2 GB of memory and is capable of running Windows XP as a guest OS under VMware Player with 512 MB of RAM allocated.

Anyways, in regards to the transition, we have a problem here.

Since Firefox 13 will remove Windows 2000, Windows XP pre-SP2, I personally believe that we ran into some sort of a mess:

1. Firefox 12 will have the removal of support for pre-Windows 7 SDKs, I'm concerned that Fx12 will not even work correctly, if not at all. Firefox on Win2K only worked with MSVC 2005 (or MSVC 2008) and with the Windows Server 2003 R2 SDK.

2. Firefox 10 ESR would be a great order to limit and phase out support for older Mac and Windows-based operating systems. By the time Firefox 18 comes out, I suspect that Mac OS X 10.5 and Windows XP SP2 support could get the axe.


So here would be a way to try to fix it:

1. Make Firefox 11 not work on Windows 2000 or Windows XP before SP2. Push the switch to MSVC 2010 to Firefox 11 Beta 1 (or Beta 2) in order to coordinate with Firefox 10 ESR. This would also require pushing of Win2K support and support for pre-Windows 7 SDKs to Firefox 11 Beta as well.

With that Win2K users would receive limited support under Firefox 10 ESR until it reaches EOL in February 2013 and not through June 2012 through Firefox 12.

2a. Repair the bug removing support for pre-Windows 7 SDKs in Firefox 12 Aurora and preserve it for Gecko 13.

2b. Move the Extended Support release from Firefox 10 ESR to Firefox 12 ESR.

3. Leave it as it is. Win2K support will eventually be deprecated in Firefox 11 and may not work correctly in Firefox 12.

Will Firefox 13 also start requiring a dual-core processor or a processor with SS3 instructions? If that's the case, that would really throw Windows XP SP2/SP3 and Linux users off once its released.

Also will there be a version of Firefox 13 for OS/2 or eComStation anymore either?

Thoughts, anyone? Sorry for typing this long comment.

Will this also affect the Seamonkey Suite?

@Andre:
It's Free software, of course anyone is welcome to make their own builds with whatever compiler they want, supporting whatever platforms they want. There's a small team providing Mac PowerPC builds still, despite us dropping support for that platform. That's not to say that we won't eventually break things in the platform by requiring new APIs or other things, but again someone can patch the source. It's all a question of how much effort someone wants to expend on it.

@rainbow:
Windows 2000 has never been very well-supported. We don't have any automated testing or even much manual QA there, we've relied on volunteer contributors to ensure that things didn't break. The situation isn't much different here. There aren't any major changes going into Firefox 11 or 12 at this point, that's the whole point of beta/aurora. I don't think it's worthwhile to change anything about this plan. Users on Windows 2000 can use the ESR if they'd like to eke out a little bit more time under a supported Firefox version. We simply don't have the resources to continue this way, and the Visual C++ 2010 issue was just the final straw. OS/2 was never an officially supported platform, builds were maintained by volunteer contributors. You'd have to ask them whether they're still working on it.

@Ted Mielczarek, I see what you mean and do admit that Win2k was never very well supported. It kinda sucks to see that there isn't any adequate Q&A testing to ensure whatever Fx11 or Fx12 works on Win2k or not.

Since Firefox is a free and open-source project, there is a forum post in the NT/Win2K/Server 2003 section of the MSFN forums where volunteer contributors are interested in helping out keep legacy OSes (Win98/Me and now Win2k) alive without Mozilla's help.

I will indeed ask other users at OS2World to see whatever or not they will be able to work on future versions of Firefox after Firefox 12 on OS/2 Warp 4 and eComStation.


On another related note since there will be new features built on Gecko 13, will SeaMonkey 2.10 most likely become SeaMonkey 3.0? I'm just curious, but it's just too early to tell right now.

@bob b This change will affect all Mozilla-based apps built on Gecko 13 and beyond.

Then as open source it would be up to Mozilla to give out the code so those savy
small groups of volunteers can keep the features of FF working with older/other
OSs. Unfortunately, I'm just a user, not a programmer.

@bob b I agree. I'm too just a user, not a programmer...so I have no knowledge on how to keep this OS alive on my own when Mozilla gets ready to pull the cord later this year.

And in regards to the VS2010 switch, does this change also affect users on Windows Server 2003 RTM (AIUI 5.2.0) as well? I doubt if anyone is even using Windows Server 2003 RTM anymore.

So for how long will VS2010 be the basis for Windows builds? It appears VS11 is dropping support for NT

*It appears VS11 is dropping support for NT (less than) 6.0.

1st. Mozilla is an open source group, why are they using Microslop products/compilers?

2nd. It seems that with the release of MSVS2010 that Redmond is furthering
their own goal of eliminating products that don't require activation,preventing
some, like the working poor, from re-using their already paid-for OS CDs.
At least for day to day use, forcing those not tech savvy to incur additional
cost through mandatory upgrading.
There are work-arounds for those that are, like kernel swapping,
or keeping legacy hardware functioning through use of 'embedded' OS in systems
not required to go on-line, like a home-built PVR/DVR.

If they did care, MSVS2010 would have offered solutions but it doesn't
seem to.

Our code is open source. Our process is open and participatory. If you want to compile Firefox with free software tools, feel free to do so. You'll end up with a much less good Firefox though.

- A

"And in regards to the VS2010 switch, does this change also affect users on Windows Server 2003 RTM (AIUI 5.2.0) as well? "
Yes, it does.

@Yuhong Bao Thank you for telling me. It seems that Asa forgot to add that.

I've even heard that Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 will not even support Windows XP anymore as one user put it.

Always look for the serious and articles I find in this beautiful site

hey hey you can call me crasnal man, that's what i am

NSbVIb However, the author created a cool thing..!

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