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Next Firefox to drop Mac OS X 10.4 support

The current version of Firefox, 3.6, supports Apple's Tiger operating system, but the browser's successor will require Leopard or later.

Mozilla has officially decided that the next major version of Firefox will require at least Mac OS X 10.5 when running on Apple computers.

"We believe a Mac OS X 10.5 minimum will allow us to provide the best experience possible to our users," Mozilla Mac programmer Josh Aas said Tuesday in a mailing list announcement. Firefox is built on a browser engine called Gecko, and the upcoming version 1.9.3 will have technology for Mac OS X 10.4 and before removed, he said.

The recently released Firefox 3.6 works on Mac OS X 10.4, aka Tiger. Mozilla will support it for some months after the browser's replacement version is issued, which means 10.4 support should continue into 2011.

Aas ran into some resistance earlier this month when he announced Mozilla's desire to drop Mac OS X 10.4 support. In a separate mailing list comment, Mozilla's Asa Dotzler expressed some enthusiasm for trying to encourage people to upgrade.

"It's like a public health issue. Internet-connected computers that are not kept up to date and secure are almost guaranteed to get compromised and those infected machines are used to assault the rest of the Internet users with spam, more malware, or DDOSes," Dotzler said, referring to distributed denial-of-service attacks. "It's not just a personal choice and as stewards of a healthy Internet, Mozilla is in a unique position to push this kind of messaging. We're not trying to sell people new hardware or software or worthless anti-virus measures, so we should be able to communicate this well without people assuming some ulterior (profit) motive."

Mozilla is working on an update to Firefox 3.6, which uses Gecko 1.9.2, that puts plug-ins such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight into a separate memory location in an effort to increase stability. The group hopes to release a beta version of that Firefox version by the end of March.

Separately, Mozilla is working on Gecko 1.9.3 and plans to issue a new alpha release of the software this week.

Correction at 9:55 a.m. PST: The headline has been fixed to reflect the proper version of Mac OS X.