According to our cousins at Computerworld, the developers of Mozilla’s Firefox Web browser are deep in discussions about the future of the program on Mac OS X Tiger. While the final nail has yet to be driven into the purest Carpathian wood of 10.4’s coffin, the writing for the striped cat appears to be on the wall.
Support for Tiger was dropped from the development version of Mozilla’s Gecko framework last September, but the required code for supporting 10.4 was left intact, in case that decision was changed. On Thursday, Mozilla developer Josh Aas laid out the case for dropping support for Tiger altogether, in order to take advantage of more modern features introduced in Leopard and Snow Leopard.
Mozilla’s stats from January 25 of this year show that users on 10.4 account for about 24 percent of Mac users running Firefox 3.5 and about 12 percent running the recent 3.6 update—all told, almost 1.5 million out of more than 6 million Mac Firefox users. That’s not bad for an operating system that was released in April 2005, but even that will likely not be enough to earn Tiger support a last-minute pardon. Aas says that historically, Firefox has not lost significant market share for dropping previous OS X versions.
Were support for Tiger to go the way of the garefowl, users would be able to continue using Firefox 3.6 until Mozilla discontinues support for that, which is scheduled for several months after the release of the next major Firefox version later this year.
Mozilla would hardly be on the only developer to drop support for the five year-old OS; many new programs released these days require at least Mac OS X 10.5. In fact, as Mozilla’s Aas points out, the company is usually one of the last to support older OS X releases, sometimes to its detriment as Apple at some point stops issuing security updates for previous versions of OS X.
As of this writing, the thread contained ten messages and only one poster objected to the 10.4 removal, on the basis of not being able to personally afford to upgrade his equipment. It seems a foregone conclusion that support for Tiger will be on the next ship to the Grey Havens and, while some may mourn its demise, the vast majority of Mac users are likely to not even notice its passing.