No Support for 98/ME For Firefox 2.0
Gervase Markham is talking up the decision by Mozilla to not support Windows 98 and ME in their release of Firefox 3 in 2007. This comes after the decision by Microsoft to stop critical support for 9x operating systems on July 11, 2006.
The decision has caused quite a backlash, many bringing up the point that it leaves users who might not can upgrade to a newer OS with limited browser options, namely Internet Explorer. It will also leave users of older operating systems without a good, secure browser that conintues to improve. Internet Explorer 7 will only be available for XP and Vista, and at some point Microsoft will stop supporting IE6 all together.
Gervase defends their decision by saying:
I argue that continuing to support these operating systems in a browser or other Internet-facing product after vendor security support ceases is actually irresponsible, because it gives users the idea that they can continue to safely use those operating systems for surfing the Internet.
At first I was somewhat upset by this decision. I know that many systems still run 98, mostly in government agencies and schools that cannot afford the huge cost of upgrading. But I also see their point that if the OS is not going to be supported by Microsoft with security updates, it is almost trivial to try and do the same from a browser standpoint.
On the flip side of that, is it really the job of the vendor (browser or otherwise) to worry about security risks that are outside the scope of what the browser controls? In this case, Mozilla shouldn’t worry about security issues within the OS as long as any security risk in the browser is taken care of.