Firefox 4.0’s Love for XP Is a Drawback for the Web
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Users worldwide have been able to download Firefox 4.0 Final since March 21st, 2011 as Softpedia readers know very well, but Mozilla only officially launched the browser today (1.9 million downloads already at the time of this article).
Unlike Internet Explorer 9
, released to web on March 15, Firefox 4.0 also comes with support for Windows XP. IE9 RTW only plays nice with Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7. The reason for this was explained time and again by Microsoft.
The software giant’s latest iteration of IE sports hardware acceleration as one of the core features illustrative of the evolution from IE8.
Full hardware acceleration, as the IE team calls it, which requires the latest and best in graphics technology, namely DirectX 11, available exclusively in Windows 7 and in Vista SP2.
Microsoft did not backport DX11 beyond Vista SP2, and as such, there’s no IE9 RTW support for Windows XP. Nor will it there ever be.
Unlike its predecessors, IE9 cannot be crucified for holding the web back. There’s support for HTML5, CSS3, SVG, etc. And there’s hardware acceleration to help Cloud applications leverage the power of the GPU in order to make them feel like desktop apps.
But the IE team had to sacrifice support for XP users in order to help the web move forward. And while there are those that criticize the company for this decision, I applaud Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer, and his team for the move.
XP is a decade-old operating system. It might have been good enough five years go, but it’s no longer the case today. It’s a nightmare for me to use XP on test machines whenever I need to, after years of running Windows 7.
In my perspective, XP users need some tough love that will nudge them along, and get them to upgrade their OS to a more recent release of Windows.
I have seen complaints from XP customers about IE9’s support options, with rival browser makers capitalizing on the situation by touting their own support for the obsolete platform.
Even browser vendors that are otherwise committed to pushing the web forward all of a sudden found a dire responsibility to their XP user base, at the expense of the web.
The way I see it, continuing to support an operating system that will expire completely in just three years is hurting users more than not supporting XP.
But in the end, this is not about end users. I don’t doubt it that XP users are glad that Firefox 4.0 works for them and less so that IE9 doesn’t.
However, I wouldn’t trust decisions with an impact on the evolution of the web to come from end users, with some of them needing help from their IT-savvy friends just to install a browser. Would you?
It should be a top priority to support web developers when it comes down to building applications designed to take advantage of hardware acceleration in a consistent manner across all modern browsers.
After all, it is they that are tasked with offering next generation web experiences to end users.
The handicapped hardware acceleration experiences that Firefox 4.0 offers on XP are no good, not for end users or for developers.
XP users running Firefox 4.0 won’t be able to enjoy fully hardware accelerated applications, simply because DirectX 9.x is not capable of delivering them. It lacks crucial API components such as Direct2D and DirectWrite that are only available in DirectX 11.
Had the IE team offered IE9 for XP, it could only enable the same inferior hardware accelerated experiences.
What’s even worse is that developers will need to work even more now to have their projects adapted to browsers still running on XP.
Instead of investing their time, talent, energy, etc. into pushing web experiences to the next level, they’ll have to waste them on ensuring that projects deliver an inferior experience for browsers that still support XP.
“The developer community has been vocal that they want to push the web forward. The browser is only as good as the operating system it runs on and a browser running on a ten year old operating system tethers the web to the past. The time has come to stop focusing on lowest common denominator, and to really push what’s possible with innovations like full hardware acceleration. Customers can tell the difference when they see it,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me.
What’s the point of supporting hardware acceleration if you go and shoot yourself, the users and developers in the foot so all have to limp when using web apps? Firefox 4.0 Final for Windows is available for download here.
Firefox 4.0 Final for Linux is available for download here.
Firefox 4.0 Final for Mac is available for download here.
Windows Internet Explorer 9 RTW for Windows 7 and Windows 7 SP1 is available for download here.
Windows Internet Explorer 9 RTW for Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 is available for download here.
Windows Internet Explorer 9 RTW for Windows Vista SP2 64-bit edition and Windows Server 2008 SP2 64-bit edition is available for download here.
Windows Internet Explorer 9 RTW for Windows 7 64-bit edition, Windows 7 SP1 64-bit edition, Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit edition and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64-bit edition is available for download here.
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|Comment #1 by: Tsiolkovsky on 22 Mar 2011, 19:26 UTC|| reply to this comment|
So much wrong info here it is unbelievable. DX11 doesn't offer much more, if anything at all, over DX9 that would make it better for this acceleration. It's different for games. And even if there was something it is again Microsoft that is holding DX11 away from older versions of Windows. There are no technical reasons for DX11 not to be available even on Windows XP. And you are completely ignoring OpenGL, another API that offers the same access to hardware acceleration offered by graphic cards as the latest DX and it runs just fine on Windows XP, So if software is using OpenGL Windows XP software can have access to all the latest HW acceleration capabilities. So just more * propaganda from Microsoft who wish people would needlessly throw away money by buying the latest versions of their software. Please stop helping Microsoft spreading this misinformation here.
|Comment #2 by: sharp on 22 Mar 2011, 19:44 UTC|| reply to this comment|
come on, it is not possible to use video card accelerated hardware without direct x11??? Do we really need DX11 to display DIVs in an HTML page??
|Comment #3 by: davee on 22 Mar 2011, 20:16 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I'm not so sure that Firefox is holding back the Web - perhaps it's more the fault of Microsoft? Is it the fault of Firefox or that of Microsoft for not back-porting DirectX 11? Although XP is a decade old system, it still does a perfectly good job for the vast majority of PC users that have it on their systems. I see no good reason to spend $ to upgrade perfectly good workstations to Windows 7 simply for the sake of a Web browser. The large XP user base will simply use Chrome or Opera if Firefox becomes unavailable for XP. Eventually, the machines will be replaced with those running modern operating systems. Besides, little by little, the OS is becoming irrelevant.
|Comment #3.1 by: Nick on 25 Mar 2011, 03:30 GMT|
Because Windows XP lacks the technology to run DX10 and 11.
|Comment #4 by: zen on 22 Mar 2011, 20:31 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I think you are biased and full of yourself and trying to push win 7 by any means, just like Microsoft, using big words like hardware acceleration and Direct2D. Has it occured to your "IT-savvy" brain that some people can't afford Win7 or are happy with XP. I am glad there are other browsers that can stick it to you and to Microsoft. The majority of the non "IT-savvy" people were never a fan of IE anyway and will never be despite MS mercenaries like yourself . So take your IE9 and shove it.
|Comment #5 by: Shane on 22 Mar 2011, 20:41 UTC|| reply to this comment|
The development of the web in the past few years is nothing short of exponential; now, I'm no web dev, but something I've considered a viable option is web devs simply ignoring the legacy software users. In order for the web to continue with its new standards, the old needs to be shunned and ousted. Non-tech savvy people will just have to suck it up, pry themselves from facebook for two minutes and educate themselves a bit. Banners help, like Youtube (Google)'s banner displayed to IE6 users. The same thing should be shown to IE7 users, and IE8 users. The only thing holding back the web is devs trying to make everybody happy; that's just not realistic when dealing with decade old software AND brand new software / standards.
|Comment #6 by: Bluesky12 on 22 Mar 2011, 20:53 UTC|| reply to this comment|
What a load of geeky crap... not everyone wants to run some clunky browser offering from Microsoft and not everyone wants to be limited to one OS ...
|Comment #7 by: zidane3x on 22 Mar 2011, 21:52 UTC|| reply to this comment|
hahahaha you can't compare firefox to ie9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FIREFOX is dream in THE internet world :-)
|Comment #8 by: notbuyingit on 22 Mar 2011, 22:23 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Marius Oiaga, perhaps you're unfamiliar with the operating system market share figures, today at least 55% of the computers OF THE WORLD have windows XP installed and while i agree that the operating system is outdated so far its pretty capable of surfing the web. I can understand that microsoft wants to sell a new OS to everyone but they are trying to do it by force! so, you drop support for 55% of the world to make your piece of software a little better to the less than 1% that TODAY use cloud apps, sweet!
|Comment #8.1 by: Josh on 23 Mar 2011, 08:18 GMT|
Yeah but it was around 75% a few years ago. More and more users are ditching XP still. No-one force you to get Windows 7 but like Linux and Macs, operating system evolve...so why should we stagnate with XP? It has a very long shelflife, perhaps too long and I think the launching of Vista helped to prolong the longevity of XP.
|Comment #9 by: Buzz on 22 Mar 2011, 22:24 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I have to express my disappointment dear Marius towards this rather biased rant on the "continuity" of Windows XP. Half of the article focuses on that aspect alone and encourages users to switch only invoking Microsoft's decision to cease supporting XP and the availability of more "modern" iterations of Windows. I won't even approach the subject, i will only state that it is inappropriate in this specific article which should be dedicated to the latest iteration of the Firefox browser.
As far as hardware acceleration goes, IE9 has obviously opened a path only a few can follow (easily). Every other major browser out there is cross-platform: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera to name the top contenders. Lacking cross platform DirectX support these browsers will not be able to follow the hardware acceleration game so swiftly, unless they employ OpenGL (or similar efforts such as Google's ANGLE). I wouldn't be surprised to see Safari in the near future as the top dog (maybe next to IE9) of the hardware acceleration path since OS X is its main deployment platform.
Firefox is not synonymous with Windows even if the majority of its users run the aforementioned OS! Firefox and any other cross-platform browser's development process should not be limited to the capabilities specific to any one OS, instead they should employ code and libraries that can be cross-compiled.
|Comment #10 by: Boss on 22 Mar 2011, 22:32 UTC|| reply to this comment|
hey, nutty a perspective is which you need to see in every man's end... in that possible FIREFOX 4 goes ahead, as we have our parents age old in our view can we deny!
|Comment #11 by: Mohamed on 22 Mar 2011, 23:15 UTC|| reply to this comment|
This is just right ..XP is a decade-old operating system. Itmight have been good enough five years go,but its no longer the case today .
-sent via mobile
|Comment #12 by: Matt on 22 Mar 2011, 23:48 UTC|| reply to this comment|
The story is kinda funny seeing as Microsoft has been notorious for holding back development of web standards. Hell it took until IE9 for it to get up to the 90% range in the acid3 test. Other browsers were scoring that 3 years ago. I wouldn't say other browsers are holding back web standards if another browser takes 3 years to do what others are already doing.
|Comment #13 by: Anand Soy on 23 Mar 2011, 01:03 UTC|| reply to this comment|
"XP is a decade-old operating system. It might have been good enough five years go, but it’s no longer the case today. It’s a nightmare for me to use XP on test machines whenever I need to, after years of running Windows 7. "
But windows 7 lacks some stuff that is pretty important.
|Comment #14 by: Joey on 23 Mar 2011, 01:12 UTC|| reply to this comment|
There's a flaw with your logic: half the GPUs in computers running Windows 7 aren't DX11 compatible, either. Therefore, either the majority of IE9 users aren't getting the GPU acceleration, or using DX10 or DX9 is possible, or at least needs to be accounted for. Having system requirements for the web is simply going to fragment the web, double the coding time for developers, and bring us right back to the way it was with IE6.
Windows XP still has over half the desktop market share, and Microsoft's official support doesn't appear to mean much to people since I've never heard a single person obtain support from Microsoft directly; 99.999999% of XP support has always consisted of "Google the error message and follow the steps". That's not going to change. Besides, if Firefox 4 didn't support XP, they'd simply lose market share to Chrome or Opera.
|Comment #15 by: Christian on 23 Mar 2011, 01:23 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I don't agree with the main argument which defends the position that it would make more sense to abandon XP users. Windows XP still is fine for so many users. Personally I am working quite a lot with IT etc. in education at different levels, mostly with adults, and I would say that until now probably nobody I personally know (about 1000 computer users in one year) really needs Windows 7 compared to XP for his aims. Why should they install Windows 7? *** Just to use a new browser??? *** Windows 7 is quite expensive! I had to invest more than 20 hours of work to have a good working and fully customized installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with all drivers. And I had to buy more RAM. I would say that in my case this upgrade costs at least 400 US $ (Licence RAM work), if I consider my time as value, still a low value, in fact I can earn more than 10 US$ in one hour. Really, I don't agree. And I BET that Firefox 4 will be faster and more user-friendly (with all the add-ons) than IE9, be it less 'up to date' or not. This article seems to defend the point of view of developers. That is legitimate. I simply wanted to defend the point of view of USERS. [I am no native speaker] Christian, Sao Paulo, Brazil
|Comment #15.1 by: Windows20 on 23 Mar 2011, 11:53 GMT|
If you don't want to use Windows 7 then wait for the mind-blowing Windows 8. That will change everybody's mind. I heard rumors that it will have Internet Explorer 10. I bet that FireFox 5.0 will stop supporting Windows XP.
If I made IE9 worked with Windows XP. You can use the browser but will lack full hardware accleration.
|Comment #16 by: arash on 23 Mar 2011, 01:26 UTC|| reply to this comment|
i had seven, but i got back to my old friend xp . because of some civil engineering softwares. i paid for seven once , but i cant afford to renew all those things. xp still rules, and i got to thank mozilla for XP SUPPORT.
|Comment #17 by: Giz of Oz on 23 Mar 2011, 03:35 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Say what you like, but Firefox (in whatever iteration) will always get my vote. My experience with IE 9 (and previous versions of IE) is not worth the time or trouble of day. Firefox has never given me problems, which makes for effective surfing of the net. The only thing that comes close to it is Google Chrome. Firefox 4 me, dude...regardless of the supposed bells and whistles of IE 9.
|Comment #18 by: OLD MIKE on 23 Mar 2011, 04:10 UTC|| reply to this comment|
NOT ALL OF US IN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE THE US CAN AFFORD SPLURGE ON WINDOWS 7 TO GET THE BENEFITS OF IE9
|Comment #18.1 by: Windows20 on 23 Mar 2011, 11:50 GMT|
You can't afford it because you live in an outdated country and you don't get high paid compared to the ones that live in the U.S. btw, how can you afford Windows XP in the first place? Windows 7 computers can range from $300-$800 plus. If you want Windows 7, you can buy an Emachines or Compaq. They are low-cost PC manufacter.
|Comment #19 by: Thomas on 23 Mar 2011, 04:46 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Why did I find this article to be more related to XP and IE9 than firefox 4.
|Comment #20 by: Benjamin on 23 Mar 2011, 04:49 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Mozilla comes through again! Sadly my hardware is too new to support Windows XP so I'm stuck with Windows 7.
Fortunately, all those people with XP are still in luck.
Hopefully Mozilla will continue to improve support for Linux as a nice alternative for XP has hardware is harder to find for that OS.
|Comment #20.1 by: Boozer on 23 Mar 2011, 08:12 GMT|
Have you thought of XP Mode, VMware Player and etc? To be honest, I don't miss XP really, and yes I used to like that OS but I prefer Windows 7 now.
|Comment #21 by: Boozer on 23 Mar 2011, 08:09 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Yeah well, I can't use Firefox 4 yet because the Kaspersky URL Advisor and Anti-Banner aren't compatible so I'm sticking with 3.16.6 for the time being.
|Comment #22 by: Johnyz on 23 Mar 2011, 15:00 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Recently my wallet got stolen, so I visited police office. They had there computers more than 10 years old. What is the point of arguing about browsers using directx 11, if some important important institutions still have hardware that can't properly handle directx 9. Thumbs up for Firefox 4.0
|Comment #23 by: Adrian on 23 Mar 2011, 20:34 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Installing Firefox 4 on a XP machine is like installing Windows 7 on a 5 year old PC.
In both cases, you don't have necessary hardware resources to run the software at its full potential.
Yet, you still get the maximum out of all the rest of the features like UI improvements, security, stability etc.
I'm generally a user that likes to "live on edge" as far as software updates are concerned.
And, as a general rule, I advise my less-than-IT-savvy friends to do the same, whenever possible.
But the OS level is as far as I'm willing to go for keeping my computer up-to-date.
"XP is a decade-old operating system. It might have been good enough five years go, but it’s no longer the case today."
Yet, for half of the machines still functioning out there, XP is still a better choice (resource-wise).
"In my perspective, XP users need some tough love that will nudge them along, and get them to upgrade their OS to a more recent release of Windows."
You can't just ask half the users to embark on an upgrade path, which is neither money-free nor hassle-free, just to pretend you're helping the web move forward.
It's understandable from Microsoft's perspective because they are basically competing with themselves in the OS market and have everything to gain from massive upgrades.
Fact is, it's not the actual software that's "holding the web back", but the machines we're running.
If there are still so many users having PCs with inferior hardware that still works today, perhaps we're not yet "ready" for these new enhancements (accelerated browsing) to go mainstream.
And what do you think would happen if Firefox suddenly dropped support for XP in the near future, while Chrome or Opera would still support it? Do you think users will buy new hardware just to run an accelerated Firefox on a new Windows? My uneducated guess is that most of them won't, but instead choose another browser that supports their OS.
So why then not just say that "XP is a drawback for the Web" or "Half of today's PC users are a drawback for the Web".
As for the developer's point of view, there is a lot of work yet to be done regarding Web standards, even before getting to hardware acceleration.
And yes, while Firefox 4's "handicapped hardware acceleration experiences that offers on XP are no good", why would Mozilla deny half the potential users all the remaining benefits of standards compliance, UI polishing and whatever other optimizations the FF community comes up with in the meantime?
|Comment #24 by: Skoky on 24 Mar 2011, 17:08 UTC|| reply to this comment|
This article is not quite true because if you have a DX 9 compatible GPU Win 7 then you can forget about hardware acceleration using IE 9. :-))
|Comment #25 by: Slug Bolo on 06 May 2011, 13:07 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I read this because I received a message that my computer wanted to install Firefox 4. I guess I'm one of the 55% still running XP. FYI, you people who are more computer savvy, although I don't know as much as you I DO know what I need to do my job and get pleasure from using a computer. I will NOT upgrade the hardware I have until software manufacturers make me. People don't like being made to do things by bandits who just want to make some money. If you don't know that you're missing something, however much you know about the difference between DX9 and DX11, whatever those are.
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