News broke today that Mozilla has -- once again -- delayed the delivery of the so called Metro version of the Firefox web browser on Windows 8.
The version that you can only run on Windows 8's start screen interface has been in development for quite some time, and while it is already available to Nightly users of the browser on the operating system, it is not for stable users which make up the bulk of the user base.
The latest release calendar confirms that Mozilla plans to release the Metro version of Firefox to Firefox 28, which will be released on March 18, 2014 if things to as planned.
That does not mean that Firefox is not available at all on the operating system. Windows 8 users, with the notable exception of those using Windows RT devices, can install Firefox or run a portable version on the desktop part of the operating system.
The Metro version of Firefox won't provide any useful features that the desktop version does not offer, at least not on regular desktop PCs.
It may offer better touch-optimization and integration with other new Windows 8 features such as the Sharing Charms menu though. While I can understand that this may be advantageous to tablet users, it needs to be noted that Firefox for Metro won't be available to Windows RT users. And it is those users who would benefit the most from the web browser.
So why would anyone use the Metro version of Firefox if they can use the desktop version instead. There are a couple of reasons where it may make sense.
First, if you are using Start Screen apps in Windows 8, you sometimes may click on links that open always in a web browser optimized for the start screen. This is Internet Explorer by default, but if you do not want to use Microsoft's browser for that, you need to find another browser that you can use for that purpose. And Firefox can be that browser if a Start Screen version is available.
Second, there may be setups or situations where you may prefer to use a Start Screen browser, for instance if you are running a tablet without keyboard or mouse, or for presentations. Since the browser is optimized for that environment, you may benefit from the Metro version.
It is however very likely that the majority of desktop users won't use the Start Screen version of a browser that often, as the desktop version offers many advantages that the Start Screen version does not offer. This is not only the case for Firefox, but for all Metro browsers.
It is for instance not possible to change the window size of the browser to exact specifications. While you can snap it to the left or right, it is not the same as selecting a custom resolution for it.
What's your take on this? Is a Windows 8 version of Firefox worth the effort, or should Mozilla have spend the resources on other tasks instead?
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