Download 64-bit Firefox 8 Preview for x64 Windows 7, Vista, XP

A very early development milestone of Firefox 8 proves that Mozilla continues to keep alive its plans to provide a native x64 version of its opens source browser for 64-bit flavors of Windows, including Windows 7.

I told you earlier this month that Mozilla had made available the first taste of Firefox 8 via its Nightly Channel.

Well, it appears like that was just part of the story. There’s also a 64-bit version of Firefox 8 on the Nightly Channel that can be downloaded from the company’s FTP servers.

Armen Zambrano, Release Engineer for Mozilla, is hard at work on x64 Firefox 8:

“We now have a small set of Windows 2008 64-bit slaves ready to be put in our production systems that can generate the 64-bit version of Mozilla Firefox. NOTE: This is not a released version but a testing version,” he said.

“I will leave out any talking about when this could be released to our users and just focus on explaining where the project has been and where we are now from a Release Engineering point of view. Releasing depends on evaluating what the problems are on the product side before we would release it.”

It cannot be stressed enough that the nightly Builds of Firefox 8, including the 64-bit variant, are only designed for testing by early adopters, and not to run into production or for every day usage by end users.

Some Softpedia readers might remember that Mozilla was planning a 64-bit version of Firefox 5 for Windows back when Firefox 4 was still in development, and when Firefox 5, Firefox 6 and Firefox 7 weren’t all planned for 2011.

A much simpler time in fact, when the open source browser vendor hadn’t overhauled its development process and release pace cadence to match Google Chrome’s.

It’s useless to say that all plans for a 64-bit Firefox 5 were abandoned. Firefox 5 has already been finalized and of course there’s no trace of a x64 flavor.

“I started working on this project last year on Q2 and by May 2010 I had some proof of concept going on,” Zambrano said.

“By Q3 we started having problems with OPSI (a system to deploy changes to our machines) and all efforts started little by little shifting towards supporting developers to ship Firefox 4. On Q2 of this year all focus was to adapt to the new fast release cadence.”

Work has now started on x64 Firefox for 64-bit Windows, and maybe, this time around, Mozilla will actually be able to finalize this browser variant and offer it to customers.

x64 Windows users might be aware of the fact that their copies of the operating system also feature native 64-bit flavors of Internet Explorer, IE9 and IE8 for examples, depending on the platform they’re running.

Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler posted a blog entry recently asking users to share feedback and questions about 64-bit Firefox for Windows 64-bit.

Firefox 6 Beta, Firefox 7 Aurora and Firefox 5 for Windows are available for download here.

Firefox 6 Beta, Firefox 7 Aurora and Firefox 5 for Linux are available for download here.

Firefox 6 Beta, Firefox 7 Aurora and Firefox 5 for Mac are available for download here.

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