Mozilla may extend Firefox on Windows 7 and 8.1 support

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 1, 2022
Updated • Nov 5, 2022
Firefox
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With Windows 7 and 8.1 ending official support by Microsoft in January 2023, software companies face a tough decision: should they support the operating systems for longer, or drop support at the official end of support date.

mozilla firefox

Google announced that it will end support for Google Chrome on Windows 7 and Windows 8 in February 2023. The company told Chrome users who run the browser on devices powered by these operating systems that they could continue running Chrome 109, the last version to be released for Windows 7 and 8.1, but that the browser would not receive any more updates. Google did not reveal how large the browser's user base is on these two Windows operating systems.

Mozilla faces an equally tough decision. About 15% of Firefox users use the browser on Windows 7 and 8.1 machines. The percentage dropped significantly in the past couple of years, but is still almost as much as the percentage of all other operating systems that Firefox runs on, with the exception of the dominating Windows 10 platform. Firefox on all Linux distributions, on Mac, and all other versions of Windows, including Windows 8.1, also have a user base of about 15%.

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Mozilla started to discuss the end of support for Windows 7 and 8.1 almost three years ago, but the thread on Bugzilla got traction only recently. A decision has not been made yet in regards to a potential support extension for these operating systems.

Mozilla considers two main options right now:

  • End support in January 2023.
  • Extend support until at least June 2023.

Ending support in January 2023 would alienate about 15% of the browser's user base. These users could continue to run the then-unsupported browser, similarly to how Chrome users can do so starting in February 2023. Some might move to a different browser, depending on whether it continues to be supported on their platform.

This option would remove a lot of headaches regarding testing, development tools and other tasks related to engineering. The downside would be that Firefox would lose a percentage of its user base over night.

The second option that Mozilla considers extends support until the release of the next Firefox ESR version. Firefox users on Windows 7 and 8.1 would be moved to Firefox 102 ESR, the current Extended Support Release branch, and would receive updates until Firefox 102 ESR is moved to Firefox 114 ESR; this happens in August 2023.

What appears to be clear is that Mozilla's support for Windows 7 and 8.1 will end in 2023. Firefox users who run the browser on Windows 7 or 8.1 devices have a number of options:

  • Upgrade to Windows 10. A sizeable number of devices will be upgraded to Windows 10 once support runs out. Microsoft's dominating operating system is supported until 2025.
  • Keep using the unsupported Firefox on the unsupported version of Windows.
  • Switch to a web browser that continues to be supported and continue to run the unsupported version of Windows.
  • Migrate to Linux and run Firefox on Linux.

All of these options either have a lengthy upgrade or migration process, or put the browser and/or system at risk because of the unsupported state.

Now You: do you use Windows 7 or 8.1? What will you do in January 2023? (via security.nl)

Summary
Mozilla may extend Firefox on Windows 7 and 8.1 support
Article Name
Mozilla may extend Firefox on Windows 7 and 8.1 support
Description
Mozilla is considering extending support for Firefox on Windows 7 and 8.1 devices beyond Microsoft's January 2023 end of support date.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. NeonRobot said on November 1, 2022 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    W7 here.
    Thanks for relevant post!
    Will keep riding till web works.

  2. motang said on November 1, 2022 at 11:28 am
    Reply

    What if they moved these users to ESR version?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 1, 2022 at 11:56 am
      Reply

      That is one of the ideas. This would guarantee support until August 2023.

      1. SeaMonkey or Pale moon said on November 1, 2022 at 2:13 pm
        Reply

        No martin, it will happen the same way as in the Win Xp/ Vista case, meaning they will move the users on the 114 ESR and give them another year of security updates i.e. August 2024.

        https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2017/10/04/firefox-support-for-windows-xp-and-vista/

      2. Jody Thornton said on November 1, 2022 at 5:01 pm
        Reply

        That just spells out how it was. What tells you that Mozilla will do the same once again? That guess work on your part.

      3. Jody Thornton said on November 1, 2022 at 5:02 pm
        Reply

        That just spells out how it was. What tells you that Mozilla will do the same once again? That guess work on your part.

      4. SeaMoon or Pale monkey said on November 1, 2022 at 6:07 pm
        Reply

        – What tells you that Mozilla will do the same once again?

        It makes zero sense to move Win7 users (15% of your already small user base) from the stable channel to ESR just for a 6 months.

      5. Jody Thornton said on November 2, 2022 at 11:46 am
        Reply

        @SeaMoon – I actually agree, but I’m betting for simplicity’s sake that’s what they’ll do. I REALLY hope you’re correct

  3. Tom Hawack said on November 1, 2022 at 12:21 pm
    Reply

    Windows 7 user here.

    About the options and probabilities/10 :

    Upgrade to Windows 10 : 0 (Win11? Do negative probabilities make any sens?).
    Keep using the unsupported Firefox on the unsupported version of Windows : 5
    Switch to a web browser that continues to be supported : 3
    Migrate to Linux and run Firefox on Linux : 2

    I’m reluctant to consider a new OS, but I’m sure it won’t be Microsoft, hence Linux if applicable.
    I’m reluctant to consider a new default browser, so sticking to latest Win7 compatible version of Firefox is most likely.
    Nevertheless I may consider another browser supporting Win7, perhaps Brave in such a case. But I doubt any browser will continue to support Win7/8.1 after 2023 anyway.

    What is most likely in my case is indeed is to carry on with latest compatible Firefox until I get a new PC which will inevitably run on Linux given Microsoft 10/11/[…] is an option I can and will refuse. I’d surprise myself should i consider switching to more than to a new OS by entering the Mac environment, but who knows for sure?

    1. Paul .T said on November 1, 2022 at 4:54 pm
      Reply

      > But I doubt any browser will continue to support Win7/8.1 after 2023 anyway.

      Maybe not the “big” names but i can assure you that Win7 will have plenty of modern browsers to support the system at least till the end of this decade.

      Take for example the situation with Windows XP

      https://msfn.org/board/topic/182794-updated-browser-list-for-windows-xp/

      or Pale moon

      https://forum.palemoon.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=21685#p163736

      1. Tom Hawack said on November 2, 2022 at 10:57 am
        Reply

        @Paul .T, indeed now that you point it out I can conceive that browsers other than the “big” ones support and will support (“until at least the end of the decade”?!) Win7/Win8.1. I admit that generally speaking I tend to be cautious with “parallel” browsers, be they regularly updated hence “modern”. Moreover, in my case, you have a user who’s been running only Firefox for over a decade (at least), tweaking it substantially, digging into its core, trying to establish the best equalization between the browser’ capacities, possibilities and his wishes, be it in terms of privacy, security and design… and that establishes either a dependency either an optimized relationship or both between the browser and myself. Yet, no option is to be banned on the account of preferences so I do keep in mind your comment. From there on we have to admit that forcing an OS is only postponing an inevitable switch… unless one’s own life ends before that of his digital environment, LOL! But I do intend to survive past the end of this decade, be said!

    2. Sol Shine said on November 2, 2022 at 1:17 am
      Reply

      @Tom Hawack

      I use Windows 7 and have been testing various Linux distro’s for the past few years.
      My favorites are Manjaro Linux, Linux Mint and MX Linux.

      Manjaro is a rolling release that offers the latest kernels pretty quickly, and a GUI to easily install or remove kernels. I use the xfce desktop because it is faster than Gnome and KDE.
      But my advice is to follow the posted reviews at https://forum.manjaro.org/c/announcements/11 before installing a new update, wait a day or 2 to see if their are problems and what the solutions are and then install the update.

      Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, but they are working on a version based on Debian to be less dependant on Canonical (developer of Ubuntu) and their bad choices.
      Linux Mint is pretty stable and has many programs that make it user friendly.
      They are working on a tool to make upgrades to new versions easier.
      This is the Linux version (with xfce) that I install on the computers of friends and family, and tell them to use it instead of the privacy abusing Windows.

      MX Linux is based on Debian and I actually like it more than Linux Mint.
      But I prefer to install Linux Mint on friends/family computers because it has a newer kernel.
      There is a MX Linux version (called ahs) with a newer kernel, but it is not as fully supported yet as the default version. I personaly use the ahs version and have had no problems yet with it.
      MX Linux has many handy programs that make it user friendly.
      I really like MX snapshot that lets you creat a iso from your current MX LInux installation.
      You can then install the created iso on a USB stick or USB SSD and so have all your settings and installed programs in a portable form.

      I also prefer the Nemo File Manager, over all the others.

      Linux still has it’s problems, but I prefer it over the spying Windows 10 and 11.
      Linux still has no good stable Firewall to block programs individually.
      None of the desktops (xfce, KDE, gnome, etc) have a consistant GUI for all programs, or have window borders that are too thin, or do not have color themes I like.
      Besides popular programs like Firefox, LIbreOffice and VLC, it is hard to find programs that you can trust to be around for a long time. Many LInux distro’s switch to some new programs at each upgrade to a new versions.

      1. Tom Hawack said on November 2, 2022 at 11:12 am
        Reply

        @Sol Shine, thanks for this most interesting review about entering the Linux environment. It is clear, it is for “Linuxians” most certainly but is it for others? I’ll speak for myself : diversity, conceptually, is IMO the very essence of progress but implies a broad approach hence deeper thinking requirements than those for easy choices based on a simple landscape : Windows or Linux or Mac are basic options so to say but once in Linux choosing the path is far tougher, as tough as it is — for me — to appreciate as it deserves all the nuances of your precise comment regarding “Linux destroys” (is that the correct terminology?). So if Linux it is i’ll have to invest time and deep learning to make the best choices regarding my needs and comments as yours will then be fully beneficial. Until then I’m still “skating in the semolina” as we say in French (“patiner dans la semoule”)!

  4. Mothy said on November 1, 2022 at 1:24 pm
    Reply

    I have two personal desktop systems still on Windows 8.1 (Pro) with Firefox ESR as my main web browser. My plan is to continue using both for a while after they end support while eventually moving to Linux. Microsoft and their “Windows as a service” is NOT a consideration what-so-ever. Windows 8.1 is the end of the road for me.

    1. Jody Thornton said on November 8, 2022 at 12:03 pm
      Reply

      @Mothy:

      I’m using Windows 8 (with Server 2012 updates to remain current) with Firefox ESR 102. I realize that I would have basically until August (although it sounds as though the longer term plan for Mozilla is to drop ESR support in June, so even then, we will lose three months of updates). I was hoping, as thought by someone else below, that we might get to utilize ESR 115 on Windows 7 and 8x, but I’m not so sure.

      If one thinks about it, there would be no reason that by supporting these older Windows versions on ESR 115, that development progress would be held back on the Firefox main release branch. All we need on ESR 115 is security updates.

      I haven’t been hearing much on this story for the last few days, and I really was hoping this would be a bigger story. Any progress on Mozilla coming to a final decision?

  5. Kalmly said on November 1, 2022 at 3:17 pm
    Reply

    Have stayed with Win7 and will continue to do so. I use FF, Brave, and Pale Moon. When they stop supporting my OS I will continue to use them. I have a new, never used, Win10 laptop. I expect to be forced to get it up and running so I can use internet services that will surely fail me as support falls away. That’s the only reason I bought the durn, ugly thing. It will get minimal use. I have no desire to work online or use any kind of online applications.

    Linux, unfortunately, is not an option. All the good software is written for Windows, and I’m a software junkie.

    Very sad, to me, the way Windows has gone.

  6. userpassadmin said on November 1, 2022 at 5:13 pm
    Reply

    Great, Windows 7 is the best Windows.

    1. Jody Thornton said on November 2, 2022 at 2:33 pm
      Reply

      @userpassadmin

      Well I admit that I’m more partial to Windows 8, however, you and I are united in our distaste for both Windows 10 and for Windows 11.

      Mind you, if I’m REALLY FAIR, we use Windows 10 21H2 almost exclusively at work, and I have to say, startup, login and extended use don’t seem to bog down Windows 10. True, we’re all on small form factor units with SSDs, but we keep these workstations on for days at a time, just logging in and out. Windows 10 seems to maintain CPU load better, and stay responsive. Before, elongated use of Chrome and Firefox caused memory leaks on Windows 7, and resulted in jam ups, without being able to click on anything or go anywhere. These issues are all gone on Windows 10.

      Moreover Windows 10 works more stable with multiple screens on a USB extender, whereas on Windows 7, occasionally screens would blank out then be “redetected” by the USB chain. Then the screens came on again. That was annoying, because it happened otten enough to disturb workflow.

  7. Anonymous said on November 1, 2022 at 5:23 pm
    Reply

    Yeah, I commented on your previous article regarding the security.nl info, but to be honest nobody (not even mozilla) has made any permanent decisions.
    I think you should also mention the option of migrating to win11. I have upgraded many unsupported win7 systems to win10 to get the licence and then clean installed windows 11 with the check bypass methods. It’s actually much faster and better than windows 10. Updates are received normally. And of course you can dual-boot.

  8. Anonymous said on November 1, 2022 at 5:37 pm
    Reply

    This is very good news. Windows 7 is the last useable OS by Microsoft. Hopefully by the time Mozilla ends support for Windows 7, Microsoft has already fired all the idiots who helped develop Windows 10 and 11. We need an OS like Windows 7 again.

  9. Anonymous said on November 1, 2022 at 6:45 pm
    Reply

    Even Wacom is dropping support for Win7/8 with their latest update but Mozilla tries to seem cool supporting this old OS.

    People can even get win10 for free in a completely new computer even if they built it, so they don’t even have to buy it.
    It’s just funny how Mozilla is so desperate for attention they would just say this as a “may” so it is not even a sure thing.
    People should just move on of old OSs, just like Android 4 is not supported anymore but most Browsers and 5 is going out of support as well for many.

    The difference is unlike phones, people can install newer OSs in a computer so supporting and promoting old OSs like Win7 is just lame… I mean, we can go back to XP and 3.1 and DOS then, where is the support for that??

  10. salta said on November 1, 2022 at 8:38 pm
    Reply

    Even if I try to buy a new PC, the exchange rate is too high due to the high interest rates in the US, and it will be the same next year. I hope to support you until 2024.

  11. Anonymous said on November 1, 2022 at 10:05 pm
    Reply

    Ahhh, the demise of beloved 8.1… a great, underrated os (as the perception of total failure induced by 8.0 wrongly (imo) hit 8.1 as well).

    Am deploying this now: 10 ltsc (support ‘for an eternity’) + open shell + o&o shutup = a fine setup.

    1. TelV said on November 2, 2022 at 1:56 pm
      Reply

      @ Anonymous,

      Agree with you totally about Windows 8.1, but where to get W10 LTSC? As far as I can tell it’s only available to commercial organizations and not to ordinary consumers like myself.

      @ Everybody else,

      Otherwise, I’ll have to buy a Windows 10 machine since my current laptop is an Optimus machine and Linux distros won’t work on this kind of setup where two graphic chips (1x Intel and 1x Nvidia) are present on a single machine.

  12. 11r20 said on November 1, 2022 at 10:56 pm
    Reply

    For me, a PiHoled, Locked-Down > Win7-Pro with Blackbird is the only way to go…It’s the only OS that sips data and runs super-fast on a 50-mile, straight-line ship to shore repeater, even in bad weather.

    I have no need to upgrade past FireFox-51,
    as my Netlimiter-Pro proves FF-51 still runs squeaky-clean and very quiet with
    “” https://www.ghacks.net/2015/08/18/a-comprehensive-list-of-firefox-privacy-and-security-settings/ “”

    I still use Pale-Moon with the same great
    results.

  13. Jozsef said on November 1, 2022 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    Went from 8.1 with Classic Shell, whch was very nice, back to 7 because I missed Aero. I’ll move to 10 or 11 only when I begin to crave an OS that’s adversarial, insulting and miserable to use. Since that day may never come, MX Linux, Mint and Ubuntu Studio look like nice options. I’ll miss 8Gadget pack but life isn’t always perfect.

    Maybe I’m stuck in the past and embracing garbage is modern but I don’t see it that way.

  14. Gio said on November 1, 2022 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    Having grown fond of W7 I can only be happy for an extension of support.

  15. Anonymous said on November 2, 2022 at 1:45 am
    Reply

    I’ll simply switch to any browsers that continue to support Windows 7. Windows 10 and 11 are unsuitable.

  16. John G. said on November 2, 2022 at 1:49 am
    Reply

    W7 is able to indexing a whole PC in more less time than the best version of W10/11.
    Best OS made by Minionsoft ever, it is still working like the first day in may father’s laptop.
    Thanks for the article!

  17. Anonymouss said on November 2, 2022 at 12:39 pm
    Reply

    i think mozilla will do three stages of support for windows 7 and 8.1 firefox normal firefox until january 2023
    Firefox 114 esr until August 2023
    Firefox 114 esr party 2 until year 2024

    As mozilla had done to support firefox and firefox esr on windows XP and Vista till year 2017 and 2018.

  18. Jody Thornton said on November 2, 2022 at 5:19 pm
    Reply

    What’s party 2?

  19. AJ North said on November 4, 2022 at 8:07 am
    Reply

    As 0Patch have announced that they will be providing subscribers with at least two additional years of security patches for Win 7, perhaps some of the various browser devs (Mozilla, LibreWolf, SRWare Iron Chromium, UnGoogled Chromium, FlashPeak Slimjet Chromium, etc.) will reevaluate their lifecycles.

    (https://blog.0patch.com/2022/10/two-more-years-of-critical-security.html)

    1. TerrY said on November 4, 2022 at 4:59 pm
      Reply

      Even if these browsers stop supporting Win 7 we’ll have a solution for that too ;-)

      “Windows 7 API Extensions”

      https://github.com/vxiiduu/VxKex

      https://i.ibb.co/KzfN42B/1.png

  20. EP said on November 5, 2022 at 1:30 am
    Reply

    updated comments by Google support:

    https://support.google.com/chrome/thread/185534985/sunsetting-support-for-windows-7-8-1-in-early-2023

    “Chrome 109 is the last version of Chrome that will support Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1. Chrome 110 (tentatively scheduled for release on February 7th, 2023) is the first version of Chrome that requires Windows 10 or later.”

  21. TelV said on November 5, 2022 at 8:42 pm
    Reply

    Windows 10 LTSC support sliced in half now: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3608930/microsoft-slashes-windows-10-long-term-support-by-half.html

    According to the article, ultimately LTSC will be dropped altogether.

    1. Jody Thornton said on November 9, 2022 at 1:43 pm
      Reply

      @TelV

      Where can you get LTSC 2019? It’s supported until 2029, and I need to start thinking of post-Windows 8 options

      1. Fonz said on November 10, 2022 at 4:57 pm
        Reply

        IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 (Vibranium) is even better option since it’s supported until 2032 and it’s a newer build with more security improvements than the LTSC 2019 (Redstone 5), probably the last LTSC Win10/11 with 10 years Lifecycle, ms change their policy last year and from now on is going to support W11 LTSC versions with only 5 year support.

        https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/products/windows-10-iot-enterprise-ltsc-2021
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Microsoft_Windows_versions

  22. Jody Thornton said on November 19, 2022 at 12:40 pm
    Reply

    Was just referred to this Bugzilla page for an update. Wow is Mozilla undecided.
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1594270

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