64-bit (x64) architectures are the future, and already well on their way to becoming mainstream and burying 32-bit (x64). Microsoft was one of the first companies to recognize the trend and adapt products such as Windows XP, and then Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Office 2010 to the general trend in the evolution of processors.
In fact, the software giant is already producing x64 exclusive software with Windows Server 2008 R2 and beyond, for example. Users currently running the 64-bit flavor of Windows 7 will soon be able to install a 64-bit version of Firefox offered officially by Mozilla.
In a platform meeting on May 25th, 2010, Mozilla indicated that it had been gearing up to produce the first x64 builds of Firefox tailored to Windows 7 by the end of this week. Mozilla’s Armen Zambrano Gasparian revealed that, “Once the builds start working (I almost have them) they will show up in” the Latest Trunk download section. Early adopters will, of course, be able to download x64 Firefox releases and run them on 64-bit Windows 7.
Of course, users of Windows 7 already have a 64-bit browser at their disposal. The latest iteration of the Windows client comes with Internet Explorer 8 (64-bit) out of the box. However, as customers undoubtedly are aware, the default browser for Windows 7 is the 32-bit version of IE8, despite the fact that the operating system features the x64 flavor.
The reason for this is rather simple. 64-bit browsers don’t really enjoy support across the board for the time being. One illustrative example in this regard is that Adobe isn’t providing a x64 version of Flash to integrate with x64 Internet Explorer 8. The same is valid for Firefox. Users of x64 Firefox won’t have a release of the Adobe Flash plugin to integrate with their browser, severely impacting the user experience on websites such as YouTube, for example.
Obviously, a 64-bit (x64) version of Mozilla’s open source browser will only be delivered in the future. Firefox 4.0 is currently cooking, with the promise of a Beta development milestone available as early as the coming month. Still, ahead of the Firefox 4.0 Beta planned for June 2010, Mozilla is looking to offer early adopters at least one more Developer Preview to test-drive.
Keep your eyes on Pctipsbox and I’ll provide and update when Mozilla offers x64 Firefox for Windows 7.