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   8. Internet and eMail
   

Best Free Windows 64-bit Browser

Now is a good time to try a 64-bit browser. Just don't get rid of your 32-bit browser until you are sure that you can do without it.

The main roadblocks to using 64-bit browsers have either been removed or are coming down:

Windows 7 64-bit and Vista 64-bit include both the 32 and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer, version 8 in the case of Windows 7. The 32-bit versions of Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera also work without a hitch under both operating systems.

For a few months I have used both Internet Explorer and Firefox. I rate them similarly to the 32-bit versions (see Best Free Web Browser): Firefox first with Internet Explorer somewhere behind. Your preference is likely to be determined by whether you already use either 32-bit version. Both are smoother and faster than the 32-bit versions when running on 64-bit Windows but they may not be faster than 32-bit versions running on 32-bit Windows. The issues are the same for both, they use more memory and they may not be able to run your favourite 32-bit add-on or plug-in.

    Pale Moon

Pale Moon is a fast version of Firefox optimized to run on newer hardware. It is now my 64-bit browser since Adobe updated their Flash Player to fix stuttering video.

Speed is increased by optimizing the compiled program through removing support for older processors, utilising the features of newer processors, and configuring some features differently. The main difference you will notice is that the user interface is slightly different retaining some of the older placements.

Compatibility is maintained by using only 'unmodified Firefox code' but removing some 'less useful' features which don't affect the ability to display web pages correctly. Useful features that are removed are: accessibility features - if you need them you won't want this browser; and parental controls - see Best Free Internet Safety Check which describes how parental controls improve browsing safety. You will also lose crash support because Pale Moon does not have the same infrastructure as Firefox.

Pale Moon installation was easy but a separate utility has to be downloaded to migrate my Firefox settings. One benefit of 100% Firefox source code is that I can use Firefox Sync which synchronizes Firefox history, bookmarks, etc on different platforms. I'm using it to synchronize 32-bit Firefox, 64-bit Firefox and 64-bit Pale Moon so I don't lose any of my work while I'm evaluating them.

     Waterfox

Waterfox, like Pale Moon, is an optimized 64-bit version of Firefox that doesn't remove major components. It appears to be faster than Pale Moon but has one annoying feature:"Waterfox uses the same profile that Firefox does. If you uninstall Waterfox make sure you don't have the remove personal data box ticked!".

     Firefox

My transition from Firefox 32-bit to 64-bit was trouble-free. Firefox transferred all my bookmarks and settings correctly. It also checked all add-ons for compatibility and disabled the one that wasn't. Each time I start Firefox it asks me if it should check so I turned that off. I still have the 32-bit version installed but it won't load if the 64-bit version is already running. This is useful if, as I do, you inadvertantly click on the 32-bit icon.

The only problems I have with Firefox is that I couldn't find a 64-bit download for release versions 7 or 8 so I'm using Nightly build 10.0a1. This is a 64-bit version which is automatically converted from the latest 32-bit version. When you go to download it you will be advised that it is only for testing purposes but it has caused me no problems at all apart from having to reenable my add-ons.

    Internet Explorer

While Internet Explorer 64-bit is a useful browser, I stopped using it because it has had more problems with the websites I rely upon and work on. Even so, I enjoyed using it as it was also noticeably smoother and faster than the 32-bit version.

  Best Free Windows 64-bit Email

As yet I have no recommended 64-bit email client so refer to our Best Free Email Client article.

  • Windows 7 does not include an email client so the only released 64-bit email client is Windows Mail, included with Vista 64.
  • Thunderbird is another option but there is no production release even though 64-bit Thunderbird 7 has an unofficial release. Unfortunately, moving from your existing email client to 64-bit Thunderbird 3 can be quite a challenge. Users moving from Thunderbird 2 under Windows 7 and Vista 64 will need to use two third party freeware products, MozBackup and MailStore Home. Migration from Outlook is relatively simple under Vista 64 using the import function. This approach doesn't work under Windows 7 due to changes in the registration of MAPI entries which no one appears to want to acknowledge or address.

 

Quick Selection Guide

Pale Moon

4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A faster version of Firefox optimized for newer processors; some add-ons that Firefox said were "not compatible" work without problems; has Firefox pros including "Simplified interface, competitively fast, ..., very secure, sync & panoramas, thousands of add-ons, excellent website compatibility"
Migration of bookmarks has manual steps; no parental filtering; no accessibility features; also has Firefox cons: "need to restart browser after installing add-ons, fuzzy smaller fonts, ..., lacks popular audio & video codecs support"
Version 15.2.1
Online installer 1MB (Offline installer 13.5 MB)
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Version numbers match Firefox versions. Download Pale Moon Portable Further Resources: Migration Tools Technical Details for CPU compatibility and excluded Firefox features

Google Chrome

4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
The best 64-bit compatible web browser. "Extremely fast, clean, simple and intuitive interface, supports extensions, standards compliant, incognito browsing mode, account syncing, frequent & silent updates, built-in flash and PDF viewer."
"Requires an internet connection to install, interface is not very customizable, takes more HD space than Firefox and IE."
22.0.1229.94 m
Online Installer: 576 KB (Offline Installer: 32.2 MB, download link below)
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.

Internet Explorer

4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
"Amazing speed, minimalistic interface, pinned sites, improved web standard compliance, download manager with malware protection, tracking protection, H/W acceleration, good OS integration"
"Version 9 not compatible with XP, tab handling not as good as Firefox, no automatic restoration and extensive extension support, rebooting required after installation and long installation time, no bookmark syncing & themes, some site incompatibilities, 64 bit version less polished than 32 bit"; unsafe to uninstall completely
9.0.8112.16421
35 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

Waterfox

4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A faster version of Firefox optimized for newer processors which still has most of Firefox benefits: "Simplified interface, competitively fast, ..., very secure, sync & panoramas, thousands of add-ons, excellent website compatibility"; some add-ons that Firefox said were "not compatible" work without problems.
Shares the same profile with Firefox so do not check 'remove personal data' when uninstalling; No Mozilla support so bugs have to be fixed in Firefox; also has Firefox cons: "need to restart browser after installing add-ons, fuzzy smaller fonts, ..., lacks popular audio & video codecs support"
16.0.1
25 MB
64 bit only
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

Opera

4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
"Fast, feature rich, cross platform support, tab stacking, web standard compliant, built in mail & torrent client, extension & themes support, visual tabs & mouse gestures, Opera turbo, account syncing, tons of helpful features"
"Extension gallery not so extensive, no standard shortcut keys, no backing up from users or large organization"; does not uninstall tidily, aggressive in making itself the default browser
12.1
13.4 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

Mozilla Thunderbird Earlybird

4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
'Customizable and expandable through add-ons, intuitive user interface'
No official support so use at your own risk; 'No native support for web mail clients such as GMail or Hotmail'
10.0 beta
17.5 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
 

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