Today, December 1, 2015, Google has announced that they will no longer provide 32-bit DEB packages of the Google Chrome web browser for select GNU/Linux operating systems.
This now makes two browsers that has dropped 32 bit support for Linux, Google & Opera, and I'm not sure if Opera is going to support 32 bit any OS in the future.
It's time to face the facts, except for the short lived netbook campaign, there hasn't been 32 bit computers sold since the release of Windows 7 in 2009, over 6 years ago. Before then most Vista computers shipped with 64 bit capability, only many chose to downgrade to XP for the same reasons why many have backed up their Windows 10 upgrades (to have proof of activation later) & reverted to Windows 7 or 8.1 to have a 'familiar' environment, or like some Vista users, the OS wouldn't run good on their computers. Ahead of it's time for some hardware.
So we've had 64 bit computers for at least 10 years (I had XP Pro 64 bit on a PC purchased at a business auction), and some of us are now wondering 'why' the drop for 32 bit software? Actually many of us were expecting it in 2012, that there would be no 32 bit Windows 8 offered, and there most certainly shouldn't have been a 32 bit Windows 10 offered.
I expect this action to not just affect Linux users, rather 32 bit users as a whole, most of these machines are old (from early Vista/late XP days), some are required to invoke the forcepae option for a modern version to install, and we wonder why Google & others wants to ditch 32 bit? Furthermore, I see the day coming that some 32 bit users who made the leap to Windows 10 will have to revert to their prior OS........& hope that Google is still supporting that.
We're in a different age, the CPU OEM's needs to advance, possibly to 128 bit, 32 bit is holding up future progress, because of the resources needed to make 64 bit software compatible with 32 bit OS's. In reality, that sounds silly, as a 64 bit computer of any type should have all 64 bit software, not 'some' 32 bit software just to be able to communicate with 32 bit clients, this was why when Office 2010 was released, the recommended install was the 32 bit version, in order to communicate with Office 2007. That's not forward thinking, rather backwards.
And that's where we stand, in a forward thinking environment. Many has said that either the next Ubuntu LTS will be the last 32 bit offering, or the current version will be the end of the line. If there's going to be a lack of software to support it, there's no need to produce another 32 bit LTS release, as more & more 32 bit software developers will stop writing software. Can I blame them for not wanting to support platforms with a rapid user declining rate? No I cannot. Software creation is expensive & resource consuming that can be redirected towards modern OS's on modern hardware, most of which are 64 bit machines, unfortunately the 128 bit CPU hasn't came forward yet, though there has been some machines with two 64 bit CPU's running in tandem, though this is not a true 128 bit CPU setup. Some has suggested that 64 bit will suffice for the next 200 years, which is not an encouraging sign, though for OEM's like AMD, it would be the breakthrough they desperately need, like the Athlon X2's in the upper mid part of the last decade. This forced Intel to step up, who were fine with how things were at the time.
Maybe there will be a Chromium release that's 32 bit, only it will be more work for the end user. Plus there's other 32 bit browsers included in the Software Manager. Some, we've never heard of. others we've not. Some are simply rebranded Firefox or Chromium browsers, others are castoffs that just never made it to be known. Though this doesn't imply they're no good, it's possible that like with some other software, these aren't up to date. A try & see approach is best with these, even on Linux, we don't want to run outdated browsers.
These browsers gets their information about how many 32 bit machines there are online in much the same manner as how stat counts are done, or getting the information directly from the same counters. This however, isn't exactly news, anyone who has done much reading of tech articles at all should have ran across articles that's suggested 32 bit OS's are nosediving faster than XP. Linux distro maintainers also keeps count of which OS's are downloaded the most, they know what's moving in larger numbers when getting from official sources.
Note that Google has also dropped support beginning in April for both XP & Windows Vista, the latter which still is in official support for a year, so it's not just Linux being targeted. It wouldn't surprise me at some point not far away for them to drop support for all 32 bit OS's. Security is another factor, along with the OS, 64 bit browsers are more secure than 32 bit ones, which is likely why Linux OS's that are 64 bit are running 64 bit browsers. Windows has been slower to adapt, yet the change may be imposed on them, Google is a very large corporation with deep pockets, if anyone can force Microsoft to retire 32 bit OS's right now, it's Google. All they have to do is pull the plug and the death of 32 bit Windows is certain.
Note that 32 bit Windows OS's are in much lower numbers than 64 bit also, and it was that OS brand which introduced many of of to 64 bit OS's, with XP Pro 64 bit on April 25, 2005, four months short of 11 years ago.
Honestly, I don't understand the surprise, had it not been for the 3 year extension that XP received, 32 bit computing would likely have been a dead horse years ago. It's been 6 years ago since I last seen Topics elsewhere where the content was 'should I run a 32 or 64 bit OS', a common issue for Windows 7 adopters, because for whatever reason, they feared the 64 bit OS, while at the same time, that's all that was being distributed, other than netbooks, later given to those who purchased 2 year data plans from cellular providers, a $200 netbook selling for $2,400 plus taxes, fees & surcharges, though these are no longer offered. Even today's budget smartphones are 64 bit powered, as are many low cost tablets of varying brands.
It's time to wake up & smell the coffee, we're in a high speed data world, and 32 bit computing isn't in the roadmap for the future. Many who still has 32 bit computers knows they have at least until 2019 with Ubuntu 14.04 & it's derivatives, the future of 16.04 is still up for grabs, no one is saying anything. Yet one thing for sure, we'll soon know, as there will be testing releases, alpha, beta & release candidates of the next LTS. That may give us a hint of future plans.