Mozilla To Release Firefox Version For Windows 8 Metro UI

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 13, 2012
Updated • Jun 25, 2018
Firefox, Windows 8

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 8 will ship with two different interfaces. First a classic interface that is more or less identical to what current Windows users are working with, and the new Metro user interface that is more tablet centric and minimalist.

You cannot just use desktop applications in the Metro interface and the other way round, which means that you may also access two different versions of the same application depending on the interface you are in.

A special version of Internet Explorer 10 has been designed for the Metro UI that is in many regards fundamentally different from the classic desktop version of the browser. Among the changes are a minimalistic interface, the lack of browser plugins or the fullscreen mode.

Mozilla has published two new Wiki pages that detail how the company intents to cope with the changing design requirements.

The Windows 8 wiki describes that Mozilla plans to release a Windows 8 Metro-specific Firefox browser, to complement the classic version of the browser. This Metro-specific version would be accessible on Windows 8's Metro user interface only.

The wiki page describes some of the challenges that the developers face at this point in the planning stage:

  • Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.
  • We will need to determine if the Firefox front end on Metro will be built in XUL, C/C++, or HTML/CSS/JS (I'm assuming for now that .Net and XAML are off the table.)
  • Firefox will have to support three "snap" states -- full screen, ~1/6th screen and ~5/6th screen depending on how the user "docks" two full screen apps. Our UI will need to adjust to show the most relevant content for each size.
  • We'll need to handle being suspended by the OS when out of view.
  • We may want to offer a live tile with user-centric data like friends presence or other Firefox Home information updates
  • Ideally we'd be able to create secondary tiles for Web-based apps hosted in Firefox's runtime.

The second Wiki page, Windows 8 Integration, highlights additional restrictions or challenges:

  • Unlike Desktop, Metro apps will ONLY be available through the Windows store.
  • There are no overlapping windows, nor traditional popup windows, everything is chromeless, everything is designed to be consistent across applications.
  • Not possible to simply and easily port existing apps to Metro. A significant amount of conventional desktop functionality will not be available.
  • Some interprocess communication is possible within Metro, but it is very limited.

It appears as if Mozilla is currently in an information gathering stage to find out if and how they can create a Metro UI version of the Firefox web browser.

No release related information are provided on the two wiki pages. It is however likely that we won't see alpha or beta versions before the release of the Windows 8 Release Candidate, or maybe even later.

There is a lot of uncertainty. Users for instance might want to know if they can use their extensions in the Metro UI version of the browser, or if that would be prevented somehow.

Windows 8 users with the intention to use Metro UI will surely welcome options to switch the default interface browser.

A Firefox Metro UI version, would that be something that you are interested in? Or do you think that Mozilla should concentrate development on the desktop version of the browser?

Mozilla To Release Firefox Version For Windows 8 Metro UI
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Mozilla To Release Firefox Version For Windows 8 Metro UI
Mozilla has published two new Wiki pages that detail how the company intents to cope with the changing design requirements.
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