With Windows 8 comes a fundamental shift in the Windows operating system world that will have significant consequences for users and developers. The new Metro interface is without doubt the biggest feature and change in the new operating system. It introduces a start screen like interface that is heavily optimized for touch based devices, but can also be used by mouse and keyboard users.
With two interfaces in one operating system, comes the need to create specialized programs for each. The big issue here is that the majority of desktop apps won't run under Metro, and vice versa. Developers are now facing a situation where they need to create a Metro app for their desktop apps, to make them available everywhere on the system.
Mozilla began work on a Metro version of Firefox some time ago, and did release a bare-bones Firefox Metro prototype about three weeks ago. A new update by lead developer Brian Bondy highlights the changes that Mozilla made since the release of the prototype.
Firefox for Metro is now supporting the soft keyboard, which is an on-screen keyboard that can be used on touch devices when no hardware keyboard is attached to the device the user is working on. The developers continue their work to integrate Windows 8 touch events and gestures to improve the touch capabilities of the browser.
The web browser furthermore supports secondary tiles now, which basically allow Firefox users to pin websites directly to the Metro interface. These pinned sites work similar to bookmarks, only that they are displayed in Metro directly. This is already supported by Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10.
Firefox users can now also use the Windows 8 settings to access the preferences of the Firefox web browser via the Windows 8 settings charm.
The developers have added support for XAML interop, which they intend to use for the browser's app bar and other controls in the future.
The app bar is a bar of controls you can slide up from the bottom edge or your screen or popup via right click.
They lastly have also figured out how the undocumented PRI files work in Windows 8, which are used to store resources.
Plans are to move Firefox for Windows 8 Metro to the main Mozilla-Central repository n the near future, so that nightly builds become available.
Development seems to be progressing fairly well, and there is still enough time to get a working client out in the open before Microsoft releases Windows 8 to the public.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.