64-bit is the future of computing and one obvious benefit of running a 64-bit version of an operating system is the fact it allows you to access more than 3.5GB of RAM, helping speed up your computer. Despite the growing popularity of 64-bit though, we're still in that transitional phase where many applications are still only available in 32-bit builds – they're compatible with 64-bit, but you get none of the performance benefits 64-bit computing can bring.
Firefox is one such example: the latest Nightly build is available in 64-bit, but we're at least six months away from it making the transition through Aurora and Beta to a final release.
For those who can’t wait for Firefox to embrace 64-bit, take a look at Waterfox instead. This is a dedicated 64-bit browser based on Firefox’s open source code, compiled specifically for 64-bit versions of Windows, complete with optimizations to help speed things up a little more.
This makes it instantly familiar to existing Firefox users – Waterfox is based on the current stable Firefox build, which means it functions in exactly the same way. Aside from its name on the menu at the top of the main window, there’s nothing to differentiate it from Firefox.
Note, because the app is 64-bit, you’ll need to have installed the 64-bit version of Microsoft's Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable to avoid an MSVCR100.DLL missing error message when you try to launch the app. You’ll also find handy links to 64-bit versions of Flash, Silverlight and Sun Java on the Waterfox download page too, while all add-ons that work in Firefox should work with Waterfox too.
It’s also important to note that Waterfox shares your Firefox settings, so should you come to uninstall it, don’t select the option to delete all personal information if you’re still using Firefox.
Waterfox is well worth running if you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows and want to push the performance envelope as far as you can.