Mozilla Launches Firefox Preview For Windows 8 Tablets

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The company wants user feedback ahead of the official release in December

Almost a year after the project was first shown to the public, Mozilla has finally released a preview of its browser developed specifically for tablets running Windows 8, formerly known as Firefox Metro.

The touch-friendly browser features customisable tiles for the Start screen, support for swipe gestures, window snapping and integration with the Windows Share charm.

The open source software is available for testing, and is likely to be launched in December, following the release of Windows 8.1 sometime this Autumn.

Late to the party

The perpetually delayed Firefox Metro was originally expected to be released a few weeks after the debut of Windows 8. Visually, it is designed in line with the new Windows look, featuring bigger buttons and fewer settings than its desktop sibling.

metro-screenshotThe browser uses the same Gecko rendering engine as the regular Firefox for desktop, which means full support for WebGL and asm.js, as well as hardware-accelerated HTML5 video. It also offers Mozilla’s Sync service for syncing bookmarks and other data across all of user’s devices.

It is important to note that Modern UI-based browsers can only be used in Windows 8 if they are set as the default choice. This means that users can’t run the Firefox preview at the same time as Internet Explorer or Chrome.

Since this is a preview version, Mozilla is asking for user feedback, and says that in the next few weeks, testing will be mostly focused on improving performance and responsiveness.

Data by Net Marketshare shows that Firefox is currently the second most popular browser in the world. 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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