Firefox 3 to drop support for older Windows and Mac X 10.2

I'm currently testing a development version of Mozilla's Firefox 3 (codenamed Gran Paradiso). The contents of the release notes for Gran Paradiso Alpha 1 may surprise a few users.

Currently Firefox 3 is scheduled to be officially released in May 2007. When Firefox 3 is finally released it is expected to no longer support older versions of Microsoft Windows including Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME. Support for Apple's Mac OS X 10.2 will also be dropped. For the Mac platform, Mozilla is recommending users run Firefox using OS X 10.3.9 or higher.

Several new features for the Alpha 1 version of Gran Paradiso include:

  • Cairo is now being used as the default graphics library, affecting all graphic and text rendering
  • Cocoa Widgets are now used in OS X builds
  • An updated threading model
  • Changes to how DOM events are dispatched (see bug 234455)
  • Changes to how web pages are painted
  • New SVG elements and filters, and improved SVG specification compliance

Many of the new features are a result of changes in the Firefox rendering (layout) engine, Gecko. For this alpha version, Gecko 1.9 Alpha 1 is being used under the browser's hood.

It is difficult for me to say the full impact Gecko 1.9 will have on Firefox 3. This is all new to me like the is for the rest of you. However, I'm currently using Alpha 1 version for Firefox as I write this post. So far no problems with rendering for most pages the same or quicker than Firefox 2. Despite the lack of problems, you shouldn't use this development version of Firefox unless you fully understand the potential shortcomings of using a browser intended for testing only.