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Firefox devs ask navels when to curtail Mac OS support

'I don't want to be worrying about 10.4 until 2012'

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Firefox developers are considering ditching support for Mac OS X 10.4 sometime after the organisation ships its successor to Firefox 3.5 next year, despite accepting that users will be "pissed off" about the move.

The debate, first flagged by ComputerWorld, is playing out in the Mozilla planning forum here.

Mozilla's Josh Aas ventures, "I'd still like to drop support for Mac OS X 10.4 in Gecko 1.9.2, I don't want to be worrying about 10.4 until 2012." He notes that this would put Mozilla on a par with Apple's own timeline for Safari support.

"I think dropping 10.4 support in 1.9.2 will allow us to make the most efficient use of our resources and focus on quality and performance for the vast majority of the users we'll have in 2011," he argues.

One user objects to the proposal, saying he's missed out on new features before because of Apple's upgrade policy, and notes that Firefox is still supporting XP. "Suffice to say, I will be very disappointed if I can't upgrade to Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4 next year."

Firefox's Daniel Veditz notes, though, "Is that a Firefox problem or just what you get when you buy Apple?" before adding helpfully, "You can always load Linux on that box when Apple stops supporting it."

Mozilla's Mike Connor's seems to firm up the debate, saying: "Overall I think there's a lot of technical reasons why 10.5 should be a new baseline, and the number of users is small and diminishing in any case, so I definitely support this from the Firefox side."

He accepts, "Users will be pissed off. That's just the way it works, but a huge number of apps seem to be 10.5-only these days anyway, so we're just another tree in the forest, and not even for another year or so."

The debate echoes another bout of navel gazing two weeks ago as Mozilla developers pondered how long to support Microsoft's more elderly operating systems.

There was no decision then, and it doesn't look like there'll be one anytime soon on the Mac OS X issue. But in the meantime, we all get to marvel at how transparency doesn't necessarily translate into speedy decision making. Not to mention how Linux, ultimately, will cure all technical ills. ®

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