Open source browser gets touch-ready for Windows 8
Mozilla has released the beta version of its Firefox web browser for Windows 8, featuring a touch-screen friendly interface that has been designed in line with the new Windows look.
The company has called it “Firefox Metro Preview”, even though Microsoft itself has abandoned the name, deciding to call it “Modern UI” instead.
Users have complained about bugs and missing features in the new browser, but have praised the all-new design decisions, and overall integration with Microsoft’s latest OS.
Mozilla first announced it was developing a Windows 8 browser back in February. The company effectively promised to develop two browsers: one for the “classic desktop” application environment, with a traditional Firefox look, and one for “Metro”.
Seven moths later, we can finally see what impact using fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard has had on the design. The beta is based on version 18 of the Firefox build, but has clearly been optimised for tablets, with bigger buttons, swipe controls and fewer settings.
The bookmarks are now located on the left, recent pages in the middle, and downloads on the right. A single field on the top works both as a web address and Internet search entry field, and Metro-style rectangular tiles are everywhere.
Conveniently, the browser offers Mozilla’s Sync service for syncing bookmarks and other data across all a user’s devices, and it will update automatically with the latest stable build.
The Metro Preview is still missing many essential features, such as Flash support and add-ons. Many users have complained that the beta is full of bugs, and a few reviewers were struggling with even the basic functions. However, this is not a release version, and Mozilla will have plenty of time to polish the experience.
“This is an early preview and we know there are bugs and missing features, so please don’t hesitate to share your feedback and file any bugs you find,” read a statement on the Mozilla blog.
Firefox for Windows 8 is expected to be released a few weeks after Windows 8 itself is launched.
Metro-based browsers can only be used in Windows 8 if they are set as the default choice. This means that users can’t run Firefox Metro Preview at the same time as Internet Explorer or Chrome.
Earlier this month, data by Net Marketshare showed Mozilla’s open source browser regaining its place as the second most popular browser in the world, relegating Google’s Chrome to third place. The top dog, as it has been for the last several years, is still Internet Explorer.
Another ambitious project currently developed by Mozilla is its Firefox OS – a Linux-based operating system for entry-level smartphones, due to launch in 2013.
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