Firefox 128 bumps system requirements for old boxes

Firefox 128 is out with a relatively modest feature set – but it will also be the latest Extended Support Release (ESR) release, meaning that the end for Firefox 115 is coming into view.

Firefox version 128 started to trickle out to users this week. Although most of the new features aren't very exciting, this version is significant because it's Mozilla's new Extended Support Release – in other words, the annual long-term support versions of Firefox, which are supported for roughly a year after release.

The current Firefox ESR is version 115, released in July 2023, and as we noted at the time version 115 was significant for users of Windows 7 and 8.x – and macOS 10.12, 10.13, and 10.14 – because it was the final Firefox release for those OSes. That hasn't changed. The system requirements for version 128 are Windows 10 or newer, and macOS 10.15 Catalina or newer.

Alongside this vulture's experimental Windows XP 64 machine – which is still working perfectly fine, thanks – we also keep a testbed copy of Windows 7 around. While most of the computers at the Vulture Towers Irish Sea division run some form of Unix, we do occasionally boot Windows for a laugh, and we find Windows 7 considerably more pleasant to use than any later version. We also have two old Intel Macs that are unsupported by anything newer than macOS 10.13 High Sierra. Both our Win7 laptop and our Mac Mini run Firefox 115 as their default browser, so a new Firefox ESR is a death knell for them.

Firefox 115 is planned to reach end-of-life in September 2024, but all is not lost just yet. In a recent Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, some Mozilla developers pledged to keep Windows 7 support going as long as possible. Mozilla's Senior Director of Product Management, Byron Jourdan, said:

Sadly, the discussion did not mention whether this covers older macOS versions as well. We've asked Mozilla if it can tell us anything more, and will update this story if we hear back.

Firefox 128 has a new, simpler dialog box to select which private data you want to clear – click to enlarge

In terms of new features in this version, there isn't much to report. Firefox 128 finally fixes bug #33654, which was opened all the way back in March 2000 – a quarter of a century ago – making it as old as some personal friends of this grumpy vulture. This release is now available in the Saraiki language, also known as Seraiki, Siraiki, Multani, or Belochki, which should be well received in parts of Punjab.

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If you use Firefox's native tab bar, it can show previews for unfocused tabs. (Around these parts, we still strongly advocate vertical tabs. We still find it shameful Firefox does not do them natively. Some partial observers, notably former Mozilla developer Jamie Zawinski, go rather further in their criticisms.)

There's a new option to permit 'privacy-respecting ad measurement.' Still preferable to Chrome, though – click to enlarge

Protected streaming content can now be played in private windows. (If you're wondering why, there's a song about that.) There's also a revamped dialog box for clearing private data, which has options for history, cookies, cache files, and site settings, and lets you choose the time period. There is a new option called "Website Advertising Preferences" to govern tracking of anonymous advertising data. This may be connected with Mozilla's recent acquisition of an ad metrics company – or as JWZ puts it, Mozilla is an advertising company now.

Existing users on Windows and Mac need merely pick the "About Firefox" option to get the update. Linux users will get the update from their distro vendor, or you can download it directly. ®


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